Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “Drive-By” Lawsuits Update
Changes to Texas laws for actions filed in state court, July 2017
Drive-by ADA lawsuits are a recurring problem for businesses across the nation, with serial plaintiffs making threats against hotels, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation for alleged ADA violations. Thousands of businesses have been sued or received demand letters threatening lawsuits unless they pay a settlement for minor, easily correctable ADA infractions. Many businesses do not have the time, resources, or inclination to challenge these lawsuits and instead decide to settle out of court.
Because the ADA is s federal law, most of these ADA lawsuits are brought in federal court. However, we do see a substantial number of lawsuits or complaints arise in Texas state courts. We are pleased that the 85th Texas Legislature passed HB 1463, providing much-needed relief for business owners facing legal claims for alleged ADA violations in state court lawsuits.
HB 1463 provides that before a lawsuit is filed in state court alleging a business's failure to comply with applicable design, construction, technical, or other standards required by the ADA (including complying with website accessibility guidelines), the claimant must give at least 60 days notice to the business operator of his/her intent to file the claim. If the business owner does not correct the ADA violation within that 60 day period, the plaintiff can move forward with the lawsuit.
THLA strongly supported passage of HB 1463 because this “notice and cure” provision helps restore the original purpose of the ADA: to provide access and accommodation to disabled citizens, not providing fertile ground for aggressive attorneys attempting to force fast settlements.
THLA is pleased to report that HB 1463 passed the full Legislature during the regular session, was signed into law by the governor, and will officially become effective in Texas on September 1, 2017. Additionally, THLA is continuing to partner with our national associations on a federal court solution to ADA drive-by lawsuits.