REAL ESTATE

Proposed legislation would limit ADA-related ‘drive-by’ lawsuits

BY Marianne Wilson

The International Council of Shopping Centers is among the groups endorsing proposed legislation that seeks to limit what it called an “unintended consequence” of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX), Doug Collins (R-GA) and David Jolly (R-FL) have introduced ADA Education and Reform Act of 2015, (H.R. 3765). The legislation addresses the practice by certain attorneys of filing "drive-by" lawsuits with the primary objective being a monetary judgement, not a "fix" to a barrier to access, according to the ICSC.

"The shopping center industry would like to thank Congressman Poe (R-TX) for his leadership in drafting a bill that ensures that resources are focused on improving access while protecting businesses from abusive lawsuits," said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. "The shopping center industry strongly supports the spirit and intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and strives to remain fully accessible, so that all of our customers can enjoy a full range of services and amenities."

The ADA was intended to improve access to facilities, not line the pockets of unscrupulous attorneys and their pool of plaintiffs, according to ICSC.

The ICSC cited data from Seyfarth Shaw LLP, which shows that from 2013 to 2014 the number of ADA Title III lawsuits — those dealing with public accommodation — surged by more than 63%. In many cases, a single plaintiff filed dozens, even hundreds, of cases across a geographic area alleging violations under the ADA. Often without the resources to contest the suit or even verify the standing of the complaint, thousands of businesses are left paying significant settlements consisting mainly of attorney's fees, the ICSC said.

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