COLUMBUS—State Representative Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) applauded the Ohio House’s passage of legislation that responds to the issue of individuals filing predatory claims against businesses for minor or technical violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The bill instead seeks to protect its original intent, which is to provide ADA accessible facilities.
Substitute House Bill 271, sponsored by Rep. Jeffery Rezabek (R-Clayton), strives to prevent abuse of the ADA, particularly in instances where demand letters are sent to businesses for minor and unnoticeable violations of the act. The letters are often sent by serial filers and threaten businesses into settling for large sums of money. Committee testimony indicated that these filers seldom check to make sure the businesses actually fixed the compliance issue.
The bill provides incentives for individuals with disabilities to serve written notice prior to filing an accessibility lawsuit and allow time for the business to fix the issue. It does not bar actions filed without notice. However, if a suit is filed without the notice, the plaintiff cannot generally recover attorney’s fees.
“This legislation is good for our communities as it will open a dialogue between our businesses and individuals with disabilities,” said Lanese. “It gives our businesses the chance to learn how to best serve their patrons in a respectful manner instead of via threat of a lawsuit. I was pleased to have been able to vet this legislation in the House Civil Justice Committee.”
House Bill 271 is a Buckeye Pathway bill that seeks to protect small businesses from predatory lawsuits and improve the integrity of the ADA by incentivizing compliance.
The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate for further deliberation.