California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 52


Introduced by Assembly Member Gray

(Coauthors: Assembly Members Olsen, Perea, and Salas)

(Coauthors: Senators Cannella and Galgiani)

December 1, 2014


An act to amend Section 55.56 of, and to add Section 55.565 to, the Civil Code, relating to public accommodations.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 52, as introduced, Gray. Public accommodations: construction-related accessibility claims.

Existing law allows a plaintiff to collect statutory damages in a construction-related accessibility claim against a place of public accommodation only if the plaintiff was denied full and equal access to the place of public accommodation on a particular occasion, as specified. Existing law imposes a minimum liability of $1,000 on these statutory damages for each offense when a defendant demonstrates that the defendant has corrected the construction-related accessibility violation within 60 days of being served with a complaint and the defendant demonstrates that the structure or area of the alleged violation was determined to meet standards or was subjected to an inspection, as specified. Existing law also imposes a minimum liability of $2,000 for each offense if the defendant has corrected all construction-related violations that are the basis of the claim within 30 days of being served with the complaint and the defendant is a small business, as specified.

This bill would instead provide that a defendant’s maximum liability for statutory damages in a construction-related accessibility claim against a place of public accommodation is $1,000 for each offense if the defendant has corrected all construction-related violations that are the basis of the claim within 180 days of being served with the complaint and the defendant demonstrates that the structure or area of the alleged violation was determined to meet standards or was subjected to an inspection, as specified. The bill would reduce that maximum liability to $1,000 for each offense if the defendant has corrected all construction-related violations that are the basis of the claim within 180 days of being served with the complaint and the defendant is a small business, as revised. The bill would also provide that specified statutory damages in a construction-related accessibility claim against a place of public accommodation that is a small business, as defined, may only be recovered if the place of public accommodation is granted a 180-day stay of court proceedings to meet specified requirements.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

Section 55.56 of the Civil Code is amended to
2read:

3

55.56.  

(a) Statutory damages under either subdivision (a) of
4Section 52 or subdivision (a) of Section 54.3 may be recovered in
5a construction-related accessibility claim against a place of public
6accommodation only if a violation or violations of one or more
7construction-related accessibility standards denied the plaintiff
8full and equal access to the place of public accommodation on a
9particular occasion.

10(b) A plaintiff is denied full and equal access only if the plaintiff
11personally encountered the violation on a particular occasion, or
12the plaintiff was deterred from accessing a place of public
13accommodation on a particular occasion.

14(c) A violation personally encountered by a plaintiff may be
15sufficient to cause a denial of full and equal access if the plaintiff
16experienced difficulty, discomfort, or embarrassment because of
17the violation.

18(d) A plaintiff demonstrates that he or she was deterred from
19accessing a place of public accommodation on a particular occasion
20only if both of the following apply:

21(1) The plaintiff had actual knowledge of a violation or
22violations that prevented or reasonably dissuaded the plaintiff from
P3    1accessing a place of public accommodation that the plaintiff
2intended to use on a particular occasion.

3(2) The violation or violations would have actually denied the
4plaintiff full and equal access if the plaintiff had accessed the place
5of public accommodation on that particular occasion.

6(e) Statutory damages may be assessed pursuant to subdivision
7(a) based on each particular occasion that the plaintiff was denied
8full and equal access, and not upon the number of violations of
9construction-related accessibility standards identified at the place
10of public accommodation where the denial of full and equal access
11occurred. If the place of public accommodation consists of distinct
12facilities that offer distinct services, statutory damages may be
13assessed based on each denial of full and equal access to the distinct
14facility, and not upon the number of violations of
15construction-related accessibility standards identified at the place
16of public accommodation where the denial of full and equal access
17occurred.

18(f) (1) Notwithstanding any other law, a defendant’s liability
19for statutory damages in a construction-related accessibility claim
20against a place of public accommodation is reduced to abegin delete minimumend delete
21begin insert maximumend insert of one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each offense if the
22defendant demonstrates that it has corrected all construction-related
23violations that are the basis of a claim withinbegin delete 60end deletebegin insert 180end insert days of being
24served with the complaint, and the defendant demonstrates any of
25the following:

26(A) The structure or area of the alleged violation was determined
27to be “CASp-inspected” or “meets applicable standards” and, to
28the best of the defendant’s knowledge, there were no modifications
29or alterations that impacted compliance with construction-related
30accessibility standards with respect to the plaintiff’s claim that
31were completed or commenced between the date of that
32determination and the particular occasion on which the plaintiff
33was allegedly denied full and equal access.

34(B) The structure or area of the alleged violation was the subject
35of an inspection report indicating “CASp determination pending”
36or “Inspected by a CASp,” and the defendant has either
37implemented reasonable measures to correct the alleged violation
38before the particular occasion on which the plaintiff was allegedly
39denied full and equal access, or the defendant was in the process
40of correcting the alleged violation within a reasonable time and
P4    1manner before the particular occasion on which the plaintiff was
2allegedly denied full and equal access.

3(C) begin deleteFor a claim alleging a construction-related accessibility
4violation filed before January 1, 2018, the structure or area of the end delete

5begin insertThe end insertalleged violation was a new construction or an improvement
6that was approved by, and passed inspection by, the local building
7department permit and inspection processbegin delete on or after January 1,
82008, and before January 1, 2016,end delete
begin insert within five years prior to the
9date the claim was servedend insert
and, to the best of the defendant’s
10knowledge, there were no modifications or alterations that impacted
11compliance with respect to the plaintiff’s claim that were completed
12or commenced between the completion date of the new
13construction or improvement and the particular occasion on which
14the plaintiff was allegedly denied full and equal access.

15(D) The structure or area of the alleged violation was new
16construction or an improvement that was approved by, and passed
17inspection by, a local building department official who is a certified
18access specialist, and, to the best of the defendant’s knowledge,
19there were no modifications or alterations that affected compliance
20with respect to the plaintiff’s claim that were completed or
21commenced between the completion date of the new construction
22or improvement and the particular occasion on which the plaintiff
23was allegedly denied full and equal access.

24(2) Notwithstanding any other law, a defendant’s liability for
25statutory damages in a construction-related accessibility claim
26against a place of public accommodation is reduced to a begin delete minimum
27of two thousand dollars ($2,000)end delete
begin insert maximum of one thousand dollars
28($1,000)end insert
for each offense if the defendantbegin insert has corrected all
29construction-related violations that are the basis of the claim
30within 180 days of being served with the complaint andend insert

31 demonstratesbegin delete bothend deletebegin insert eitherend insert of the following:

begin delete

32(A) The defendant has corrected all construction-related
33violations that are the basis of a claim within 30 days of being
34served with the complaint.

end delete
begin delete

35(B)

end delete

36begin insert(A)end insert The defendant is a small business that has employed 25 or
37fewer employees on average over the past three years, or for the
38years it has been in existence if less than three years, as evidenced
39by wage report forms filed with the Economic Development
40Department, and has average annual gross receipts of less than
P5    1three million five hundred thousand dollars ($3,500,000) over the
2previous three years, or for the years it has been in existence if
3less than three years, as evidenced by federal or state income tax
4returns. The average annual gross receipts dollar amount shall be
5adjusted biannually by the Department of General Services for
6changes in the California Consumer Price Index for All Urban
7Consumers, as compiled by the Department of Industrial Relations.
8The Department of General Services shall post that adjusted
9amount on its Internet Web site.

begin insert

10(B) The defendant is a small business as defined in Section
1114837 of the Government Code.

end insert

12(3) This subdivision shall not be applicable to intentional
13violations.

14(4) Nothing in this subdivision affects the awarding of actual
15damages, or affects the awarding of treble actual damages.

16(5) This subdivision shall apply only to claims filed on or after
17the effective date of Senate Bill 1186 of the 2011-12 Regular
18Session of the Legislature. Nothing in this subdivision is intended
19to affect a complaint filed before that date.

20(g) This section does not alter the applicable law for the
21awarding of injunctive or other equitable relief for a violation or
22violations of one or more construction-related accessibility
23standards, nor alter any legal obligation of a party to mitigate
24damages.

25(h) In assessing liability under subdivision (d), in an action
26alleging multiple claims for the same construction-related
27accessibility violation on different particular occasions, the court
28shall consider the reasonableness of the plaintiff’s conduct in light
29of the plaintiff’s obligation, if any, to mitigate damages.

30

SEC. 2.  

Section 55.565 is added to the Civil Code, to read:

31

55.565.  

When a plaintiff brings a construction-related
32accessibility claim alleging a violation of a construction-related
33accessibility standard by a place of public accommodation that is
34a small business as defined in Section 14837 of the Government
35Code, statutory damages under subdivision (a) of Section 52 or
36subdivision (a) of Section 54.3 may be recovered against a place
37of public accommodation only if the place of public
38accommodation where the alleged violation occurred is granted a
39180-day stay of court proceedings from the day the claim is filed
40during which time the place of public accommodation may meet
P6    1the requirements of a qualified defendant as defined by paragraph
2(8) of subdivision (a) of Section 55.52.



O

    99