San Diego is facing a recent wave of ADA disability access lawsuits that are often aimed at small businesses. With limited resources and often operating in older properties that were built before new regulations went into effect, small businesses are an attractive target for these suits. However, there are protections for small businesses facing ADA lawsuits, too.

Protection for Small Business: Presumption of no discomfort or embarrassment

If a small business owner can show that it is a business with less than 25 employees and that the defect alleged in the ADA disability access complaint has been corrected within 15 days, there is a rebuttable presumption that any “technical violations” alleged do not cause a person difficulty, discomfort or embarrassment for the purpose of an award of minimum statutory damages for businesses. While not a complete defense, this is nonetheless helpful.

Protection for Small Business: Further Statutory Damages Reduction to $2,000.00/Offense

Also, if a business property owner or tenant is a small business and can demonstrate that all construction-related violations were corrected within 30 days after receiving the complaint, statutory damages can be reduced to $2,000 for each offense, instead of $4,000 per offense.

Protection for Small Business: Stay of Action and Early Evaluation

If the site which is the subject of the complaint alleging ADA violations is owned or occupied by a defendant that is a small business that has employed an average of 25 or fewer employees over the past three years and meets the gross receipts eligibility criteria provided in Civil Code section 55.56(2)(f), the court will grant a stay of the action and schedule an Early Evaluation, provided that proof is provided that all violations have been corrected within 30 days of service of the complaint. As discussed here, a stay is a very helpful protection for a small business owner in an ADA compliance case.

The ADA protection for California small businesses discussed above show that the legislature is serious about implementing policy the furthers the policy of promoting disabled access but not at the cost of forcing small businesses to close. If you are a San Diego small business owner that is facing a disability access suit, feel free to contact The Jake A. Walton Law Firm – we would be happy to speak with you.