BILL NUMBER: AB 1878	INTRODUCED
	BILL TEXT


INTRODUCED BY   Assembly Member Beth Gaines

                        FEBRUARY 22, 2012

   An act to add Section 55.4 to the Civil Code, and to amend Section
4452 of the Government Code, relating to disability access.


	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


   AB 1878, as introduced, Beth Gaines. Disability access: liability.

   Under existing law, a person, firm, or corporation that interferes
with the access rights of a disabled individual is liable for the
actual damages of each offense and any amount determined by a judge
or jury of up to 3 times the amount of the actual damages, but in no
case less than $1,000. Existing law requires the State Architect to
develop and submit for approval and adoption building standards for
making buildings, structures, sidewalks, curbs, and related
facilities accessible to, and usable by, persons with disabilities.
   This bill would establish notice requirements for an alleged
aggrieved party to follow before bringing an action against a
microbusiness, as defined, for an alleged violation of the
above-described provisions. The bill would require that party to
provide specified notice to the owner of the property, agent, or
other responsible party where the alleged violation occurred.
Further, this bill would require the owner, agent, or other
responsible party to respond within 30 days with a description of the
improvements to be made or with a rebuttal to the allegations. If
the owner, agent, or other responsible party elects to fix the
alleged violation, the bill would provide 120 days to apply for any
necessary permits and to remedy the alleged violation. The provisions
of the bill would not apply to claims for recovery of special
damages for an injury in fact, and the bill would require a court or
jury to consider previous or pending actual damage awards received or
prayed for by the alleged aggrieved party for the same or similar
injury.
   Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no.
State-mandated local program: no.


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.  Section 55.4 is added to the Civil Code, to read:
   55.4.  (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, prior to
filing a claim under Section 51, 52, 54, 54.1, or 54.3, or Section
4450 or 4452 of the Government Code against a microbusiness as
defined in Section 14837 of the Government Code, the alleged
aggrieved party shall notify the owner of the property, agent, or
other responsible party where the alleged violation occurred by
personal service, in accordance with applicable state or federal
laws, or certified mail, of all alleged special access violations for
which a claim may be filed by the alleged aggrieved party. That
notice shall contain the following language:

   "This letter is to inform you that the property located at
(address of property), for which you are the property owner, agent,
or other responsible party, may be in violation of federal and/or
state special access laws pursuant to (expressly cite the federal
and/or California statute of which the property is believed to be in
violation) and caused harm to (list the name of the alleged aggrieved
party).
   Specifically, the possible violation(s) has/have been identified
as follows: (Notice must identify the specific facts that constitute
the alleged violation, including the date on which the alleged
violation occurred and identification of the location of the alleged
violation with sufficient detail, so that the location can be
identified by the property owner, agent, or other responsible party).

   Under Section 55.4 of the California Civil Code, you have 30 days
to respond to this notice by certified mail or personal service. Your
response must be addressed to (give address where personal service
may be received or certified mail may be sent). California law allows
you to respond in one of three ways:
   (1) You may expressly state that improvements will be made to
bring the premises into compliance with applicable special access
laws. If you respond in this fashion, you have a maximum of 120 days
to make these improvements or repairs and to apply for the
appropriate permits necessary to make these improvements or repairs.
The 120-day period shall begin on the date your response to this
notice is received at the address given above. If the improvements or
repairs necessary to bring the property into compliance with federal
and state special access laws are not completed in 120 days, and if
you have not applied for the appropriate permits necessary to make
the necessary improvement or repairs during that 120-day period, a
lawsuit may be brought against you.
   (2) You may challenge the validity of the alleged violations. If
you respond in this fashion, a lawsuit may be brought against you
immediately.
   (3) If the violations listed above are the same or similar to
previous violations that you believe have been corrected, you may
respond by stating that the necessary repairs have been made to bring
the property into compliance with federal and state special access
laws. You must also attach evidence that verifies those improvements.

   If you have any questions about this notice or your rights under
federal or California law, please contact your legal counsel."

   (b) Beginning with the date of notice, the property owner, agent,
or other responsible party where the alleged violation occurred shall
have 30 days to respond by certified mail or personal service to the
alleged aggrieved party. That response shall communicate any of the
following:
   (1) Expressly state that improvements will be made to bring the
premises into compliance with applicable laws. A response in this
fashion by the property owner, agent, or other responsible party
where the alleged violation occurred shall not be considered an
admission of guilt and is inadmissible in any future claims based on
the same facts filed against the property owner, agent, or other
responsible party.
   (2) Challenge the validity of the alleged violation. If the
property owner, agent, or other responsible party where the alleged
violation occurred so responds, the alleged aggrieved party may file
a claim, subject to any applicable statutes of limitations, any time
after receipt of notice as prescribed in this section.
   (3) State that the alleged violations identified by the alleged
aggrieved party have been corrected to comply with applicable state
and federal special access laws. The property owner, agent, or other
responsible party where the alleged violation occurred shall also
attach evidence that verifies those improvements.
   (c) If the property owner, agent, or responsible party where the
alleged violation occurred responds in the manner described in
paragraph (1) of subdivision (b), the property owner, agent, or
responsible party where the alleged violation occurred shall have 120
days to remedy the alleged violation and to apply for the
appropriate permits necessary to remedy the alleged violation. The
120-day period shall begin on the date the alleged aggrieved party
receives a response, pursuant to subdivision (b), from the owner,
agent, or responsible party where the alleged violation occurred.
   (d) If, at the end of the 120-day period, the property owner,
agent, or responsible party where the alleged violation occurred has
not made the improvements described in paragraph (1) of subdivision
(b) or applied for the appropriate permits necessary to remedy the
violation, and fails to provide satisfactory explanation as to why
those repairs were not yet completed and why the appropriate permits
have not been sought, the alleged aggrieved party may file a claim.
   (e) If the property owner, agent, or other responsible party where
the alleged violation occurred has made the improvements described
in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b), or has applied for the
appropriate permits necessary to remedy the violation, no current or
future alleged aggrieved party shall receive any damages or attorney'
s fees, other than special damages, for any claim arising out of the
same or similar facts that served as a basis for the alleged
violation.
   (f) This section applies to all claims for damages or fees, other
than those praying for special damages arising out of injuries in
fact. This section shall not be construed to limit claims for
recovery of special damages filed by any person who suffers an injury
in fact because they were denied full and equal access to an
accommodation as required by Section 51, 52, 54, 54.1, or 54.3, or
Section 4450 or 4452 of the Government Code.
   (g) In making a determination of the amount of damages awarded to
a successful plaintiff, a court or jury shall consider previous or
pending actual damage awards received or prayed for by that plaintiff
for the same or similar injury.
  SEC. 2.  Section 4452 of the Government Code is amended to read:
   4452.   (a)    It is the intent of the
Legislature that the building standards published in the State
Building Standards Code relating to access by the physically
handicapped and the other regulations adopted by the State Architect
pursuant to Section 4450 shall be used as minimum requirements to
insure that buildings, structures  ,  and related facilities
covered by this chapter are accessible to, and functional for, the
physically handicapped to, through, and within their doors, without
loss of function, space, or facility where the general public is
concerned. 
   (b) Any unauthorized deviation from those regulations or building
standards shall be rectified by full compliance within 90 days after
discovery of the deviation.  
   (c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), prior to any action commenced
for an alleged violation of Section 4450 or this section against a
microbusiness as defined in Section 14837, the notice requirements
specified in Section 55.4 of the Civil Code shall apply to the
alleged aggrieved party.