Moorlach Combats ADA Lawsuit Abuse with “Right to Cure.” NOW with Joe Dunn UPDATE!

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Deported "professional plaintiff" Alfredo Garcia, state senator John Moorlach.

Deported “professional plaintiff” Alfredo Garcia, state senator John Moorlach.

I bet you’ve heard many of the stories, and it’s been going on for 26 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act – combined with California’s “Unruh Civil Rights Act” encouraging handicapped vigilante litigants to sue businesses, for profit, for minor ADA violations, the archives of petty abuse are endless and growing.  Our Golden State is home to only about 12% of disabled Americans, yet we enjoy 40% of ADA lawsuits, more than Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas and New York combined!

Businesses – particularly small “mom & pop” ones – have a hard time keeping up with the constantly changing requirements the legislature puts on them for making things easier for handicapped customers – and they get regularly sued for such infractions as:

Sued for how much?  California law allows $4000 plus the plaintiff’s legal fees for each little infraction a handicapped “customer” finds.  But that is $4000 per visit, so greedy plaintiffs are motivated to come back over and over to the same place, to multiply their winnings to as much as $100K.  Usually rather than spend more money fighting to defend themselves, the business will just settle.  Often, the loss is so great that they go belly up.

Sued by whom?  An NBC investigation of thousands of these suits shows that more than half of them are filed by “serial” plaintiffs who’ve filed at least thirty of the things.  Some of these characters are truly amazing.  The Register told last year of wheelchair-bound serial litigant (and child porn enthusiast) Robert McCarthy, who comes out to our state once a year from his Arizona home searching for prey, with over 250 suits under his belt.  But Robert’s a piker compared to the late John Carpenter, a convicted child molester, who pulled off nearly 1000 suits in the LA area before committing suicide in 2014.

alfredo garciaBut perhaps the perfect poster boy for ADA lawsuit abuse was Alfredo Garcia, the undocumented-immigrant felon who crippled himself in 1996 falling out of an avocado tree while coked-out and drunk, and went on to rake in $1.2 million filing 811 such frivolous ADA lawsuits;  he also usually managed to get his fee waivers paid by us taxpayers by claiming poverty, to the tune of $213,502.  Young Alfredo was finally deported in 2014 – not for any of this, but for selling crack, selling weapons, and burglarizing a car.  Not many immigrants’ rights advocates shed a tear.

Enter The Moorlach.

moorlach warmNow comes our esteemed State Senator John Moorlach with the very sensible “Right to Cure” bill, SB 1142.  SB 1142 would “allow small businessowners, many of whom are ‘mom-and-pop’ businesses, a ‘right to cure’ within 120 days any identified non-compliance of the Construction-Related Accessibility Standards Compliance Act or Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), without penalty and without an expensive lawsuit being filed and attorney’s fees being owed.  Additionally, where there is conflict between the federal rule and the California rule, the federal rule will preempt the California rule.” – that had been another cause of confusion.

Moorlach’s fact sheet continues:

[The status quo] “is putting many small businesses out-of-business, and its further adding to the stigma that California is a bad place to open a business and create jobs.  Additionally, because California has implemented its own version of the ADA, the Construction-Related Accessibility Standards Compliance Act, there is often confusion as to which standards a business is supposed to adhere to. A plaintiff can sue under a cause of action that is not provided for in the ADA, but is under California law.  A “right to cure” honors the purpose of the ADA – to give access to all Californians for public spaces in the state. There is no point to disability access standards if there are no businesses left to implement them.”

richard rothStill just a baby bill, SB 1142 is awaiting its first committee hearing, in Senate Judiciary.  How many sponsors or co-authors does it have so far?  Five or six.  Bipartisan?  There’s one Democratic Senator backing it, Richard Roth of Riverside (right), who also has his own bill addressing these and similar problems, SB 269, which is more complex.

But wait a second.  This shit has been going on for 26 years now.  And many of the stories I’ve linked are from years ago, and include a paragraph suggesting that legislators “are planning to do something about this.”  Why has it taken so long?  The Moorlach isn’t sure, but suspects the influence of all-powerful trial lawyers, who want to protect this “gravy train.”

Trial lawyers?  Are you thinking the same thing I’m thinking?  Yes, I think it falls to me to ask Joe Dunn if he would support this bill or not.  Of course he’s no longer in the state legislature and is running for Congress, but his answer might show if he is a TRIAL LAWYER TO A FAULT, or conversely if there really is a good argument against this bill, he might have it.

firemen correa“Joe Dunn?”  A Moorlach guffaw rings out from the other end of the line.  “I think he’d better be looking for a burning building to save some people from,” the senator cracks, referring to Dunn’s opponent Lou Correa’s recent Corey Booker moment.  (left)

Funny stuff.  I’ll be back to update this story when I get Joe’s reaction.  For now, let’s support Moorlach’s SB 1142, the Right to Cure Bill.  Vern out…

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UPDATE April 12

Ran into Joe at the Anaheim Council meeting tonight, he spoke ELOQUENTLY for a ban against STR’s (Short Term Rentals.)  The strongest characteristic of Anaheim, he said, is its sense of community, and the proliferation of STR’s destroys that.

While he was in line I quickly described Moorlach’s bill, and Moorlach’s expectation that the biggest problem he’d run into was “trial lawyers.”  Not so, says Joe.

dunnSays Joe, “We tried to pass a bill just like that back in 2006.  I personally convinced other trial lawyers that this was for the best, and not to oppose it.

“The problem we ran into, and which John will run into is disability advocates.  And this is the argument he’s gonna get from them, which stymied us in the judiciary committee, and which he should be ready for:   They’re gonna say the ADA is a civil rights bill.  And they’re going to say that if a restaurant refused to serve somebody because they’re black, they would not be given a 60-day ‘chance to cure.‘  John and his supporters need to be ready to counter that argument.”

Also, Joe laughed at John’s joke about him having to be looking for a burning building to rescue a family from.

 


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.