California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 1468


Introduced by Assembly Member Baker

(Coauthor: Assembly Member Wilk)

February 27, 2015


An act to amend Section 55.52 of, and to add Section 54.26 to, the Civil Code, relating to civil rights.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1468, as introduced, Baker. Civil rights: disability access.

Existing law provides that individuals with disabilities or medical conditions have the same right as the general public to the full and free use of the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways, public buildings, medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices, public facilities, and other public places. Existing law prescribes a process for prosecuting an action in this regard and provides that a person aggrieved or potentially aggrieved by a violation of these rights may bring an action for damages and that a prevailing party is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees.

This bill would except from the application of these provisions public buildings, public facilities, and other public places of a public entity that, on specified dates, met specified disability access design standards. The bill would provide that a public entity’s possession of a close out letter from the State Architect certifying that the buildings, facilities, and other places to which the letter applies meet the applicable building and construction-related accessibility standards of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act serves as presumptive evidence that the public buildings, facilities, and places are in compliance with this part and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Existing law prescribes a process in certain construction-related accessibility claims against a place of public accommodation. This process permits statutory damages to be awarded against a place of public accommodation only if the violation denied the plaintiff full and equal access to the place of public accommodation on a particular occasion. This process also reduces a defendant’s minimum statutory damage liability to $1,000 if the defendant demonstrates that it has corrected all construction-related violations that are the basis of a claim within 60 days of being served with the complaint, and other select conditions are met.

This bill would apply the process described above to an action commenced on or after that January 1, 2016, or an action commenced prior to that date for which a final judgment has not been entered, to public buildings, public facilities, and other public places of a public entity by revising the definition of a place of public accommodation.

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

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

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

Section 54.26 is added to the Civil Code, to read:

2

54.26.  

(a) For any action commenced on or after January 1,
32016, or for an action commenced prior to that date for which a
4final judgment has not been entered, the following shall apply:

5(1) New construction or alteration of a structure conducted by
6a public entity on or before September 15, 2010, that complies
7with the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or the
8Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards are deemed not in
9violation of this part.

10(2) New construction or alteration of a structure conducted by
11a public entity on or after September 15, 2010, and before March
1215, 2012, that complies with either the 1991 ADA Standards for
13Accessible Design or 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design
14are deemed not in violation of this part.

15(3) New construction or alteration of a structure conducted by
16a public entity on or after March 15, 2012, that complies with the
172010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or the applicable code
18in place at the time of construction or alteration are deemed not in
19violation of this part.

P3    1(4) Elements in existing facilities of a public entity that have
2not been altered on or before March 15, 2012, that comply with
3the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or 2010 ADA
4Standards for Accessible Design are deemed not in violation of
5this part.

6(b) A public entity’s possession of a closeout letter from the
7State Architect certifying that the public buildings, public facilities,
8and other public places to which the letter applies meet the
9applicable building and construction-related accessibility standards
10of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act shall serve as
11presumptive evidence that the public buildings, facilities, and
12places are in compliance with this part and the federal Americans
13with Disabilities Act.

14

SEC. 2.  

Section 55.52 of the Civil Code is amended to read:

15

55.52.  

(a) For purposes of this part, the following definitions
16apply:

17(1) “Construction-related accessibility claim” means any civil
18claim in a civil action with respect to a place of public
19accommodation, including, but not limited to, a claim brought
20under Section 51, 54, 54.1, or 55, based wholly or in part on an
21alleged violation of any construction-related accessibility standard,
22as defined in paragraph (6).

23(2) “Application for stay and early evaluation conference” means
24an application to be filed with the court that meets the requirements
25of subdivision (c) of Section 55.54.

26(3) “Certified access specialist” or “CASp” means any person
27 who has been certified pursuant to Section 4459.5 of the
28Government Code.

29(4) “Meets applicable standards” means the site was inspected
30by a CASp and determined to meet all applicable
31construction-related accessibility standards pursuant to paragraph
32(1) of subdivision (a) of Section 55.53. A site that is “CASp
33inspected” on or before the effective date of the amendments made
34to this section by Senate Bill 1186 of the 2011-12 Regular Session
35of the Legislature means that the site “meets applicable standards.”

36(5) “Inspected by a CASp” means the site was inspected by a
37CASp and is pending a determination by the CASp that the site
38meets applicable construction-related accessibility standards
39pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 55.53. A
40site that is “CASp determination pending” on or before the effective
P4    1date of the amendments made to this section by Senate Bill 1186
2of the 2011-12 Regular Session of the Legislature means that the
3site was “inspected by a CASp.”

4(6) “Construction-related accessibility standard” means a
5provision, standard, or regulation under state or federal law
6requiring compliance with standards for making new construction
7and existing facilities accessible to persons with disabilities,
8including, but not limited to, any provision, standard, or regulation
9set forth in Section 51, 54, 54.1, or 55 of this code, Section 19955.5
10of the Health and Safety Code, the California Building Standards
11Code (Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations), the federal
12Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336; 42
13U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq.), and the federal Americans with
14Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (Appendix A to Part 36
15of Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations).

16(7) begin insert(A)end insertbegin insertend insert“Place of public accommodation” has the same meaning
17as “public accommodation,” as set forth in Section 12181(7) of
18Title 42 of the United States Code and the federal regulations
19adopted pursuant to that section.

begin insert

20(B) For any action commenced on or after that January 1, 2016,
21or for an action commenced prior to that date for which a final
22judgment has not been entered, “place of public accommodation”
23also means public buildings, public facilities, and other public
24places of a public entity as defined in Section 12131(1) of Title 42
25of the United States Code and any related federal regulations.

end insert

26(8) “Qualified defendant” means a defendant in an action that
27includes a construction-related accessibility claim that is asserted
28against a place of public accommodation that met the requirements
29of “meets applicable standards” or “inspected by a CASp” prior
30to the date the defendant was served with the summons and
31complaint in that action. To be a qualified defendant, the defendant
32is not required to have been the party who hired any CASp, so
33long as the basis of the alleged liability of the defendant is a
34construction-related accessibility claim. To determine whether a
35defendant is a qualified defendant, the court need not make a
36finding that the place of public accommodation complies with all
37applicable construction-related accessibility standards as a matter
38of law. The court need only determine that the place of public
39accommodation has a status of “meets applicable standards” or
40“inspected by a CASp.”

P5    1(9) “Site” means a place of public accommodation.

2(b) Unless otherwise indicated, terms used in this part relating
3to civil procedure have the same meanings that those terms have
4in the Code of Civil Procedure.



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