California bill would crack down on predatory disability-law attorneys

California law entitles people with disabilities to full and equal business accommodations, facilities and services. Unfortunately, some attorneys of questionable integrity have built a “cottage-industry” by threatening business owners and landlords with legal action based on alleged violations of the disability-access laws. In many cases, these attorneys demand up to $4,000 per violation, even if the violations are minor, technical and unintentional, and even if the business owner is willing to quickly correct the alleged problems.

The financial demands can be so onerous that numerous small businesses have simply closed their doors because they could not face the threat of crushing legal fees and potential fines to defend against such actions.

Senate Bill 1186 received bipartisan support in the Senate, which concurred in amendments 34-3. The bill has been sent to Governor Brown for his signature.

Under the Bill, potential damages for disability-law violations would drop to as low as $1,000 if the defendant quickly corrected the deficiencies. Further, attorneys would be required to include their State Bar license number in a demand letter, the violations would have to be described and defined in greater detail, and attorneys would be barred from making demands for money until litigation is filed.

Senate Bill 1186 appears to strike an equitable balance between supporting the rights of the disabled community while protecting businesses from predatory demands for money and threats of questionable lawsuits. Instead of lining the pockets of these attorneys as a result of questionable settlements, the new law will encourage businesses to fix their violations quickly to comply with the law, which will clearly benefit the disabled community that has worked so hard to ensure equal access to businesses in this state. It’s a “win-win” for all, and hopefully, the Bill will soon become law.


The Law Offices of Terry L. Gilbeau provides personalized counsel to clients in a variety of business and personal matters, including creditors’ rights, debt collection, products liability and international transaction issues. His office is located in Rocklin, CA, just outside of Sacramento, CA, near Roseville, Lincoln, Auburn, in Placer County and can be reached at (916-626-5539) or email Terry at Click here for the firm website

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