Washington, DC -- Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-50) today voted in favor of H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, when it passed the House by a margin of 225-192. Congressman Hunter is a cosponsor of this bill, which will now be referred to the Senate for consideration. The following are Congressman Hunter’s remarks in support of its passage from the Congressional Record:
Mr. Speaker: I rise today in support of H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. This is overdue legislation that will increase protections for individuals with disabilities while providing business and property owners the opportunity to remedy ADA infractions before unnecessary lawsuits and the costs that accompany litigation. Under the current ADA law, lawyers may collect fees when suing businesses or property owners, but plaintiffs cannot collect damages. The current system has created “drive-by” demand letters sent by lawyers, like a bulk mailer, to every location on Main St. or at a small mall. In some cases it was not clear that the plaintiff had even attempted to access the property or had even gone inside. The emphasis was on filing the lawsuit and collecting fees without regard for increasing accessibility for the disabled. Sometimes the infractions are easily corrected: signage, soap dispenser heights.
In my district in east San Diego County we have quaint, older towns that are notable for their historical structures dating back to the 1800s. These communities are proud of their heritage and these buildings are a source of local pride and tourism. In Julian, an old gold mining and apple growing town, the Julian Town Hall was threatened by a lawsuit. A public relations stunt was held there where someone crawled up the steps of the town hall, cameras rolling, despite the fact that a handicap accessible ramp was located on the side of the building. In Ramona, a predatory lawyer targeted every business on Main St. with various and frivolous claims. It is for these and other reasons I introduced similar legislation, H.R. 777, the ADA Notification Act of 2013.
With the “notice and cure” provision in H.R. 620, drive-by lawsuits will be eliminated, business will have an opportunity to remedy any deficiency, and there will be increased compliance and correction because property and business owners cannot defer the corrections.