Amended in Assembly April 6, 2015

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 amended, 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 ofbegin insert an educational institution ofend insert 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    1begin insert

begin insertSECTION 1.end insert  

end insert

begin insertThe Legislature finds and declares all of the
2following:end insert

begin insert

3(a) Existing law provides that individuals with disabilities or
4medical conditions have the same right as the general public to
5the full and free use of streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways,
6public buildings, medical facilities, public facilities, and other
7public places.

end insert
begin insert

8(b) Existing law prescribes a process for bringing an action to
9remedy issues of accessibility and provides that a person aggrieved
10or potentially aggrieved by a violation of these rights may bring
11an action for damages.

end insert
begin insert

12(c) Legislation enacted in 2012 requires an attorney to provide
13a written advisory with each demand letter or complaint to a
14defendant or potential defendant for any construction-related
15accessibility claim. Certain basic review requirements are also
16required prior to sending a demand letter. This legislation did not
17and does not apply to public facilities.

end insert
begin insert

P3    1(d) It is the mission of community colleges and school districts
2to provide quality educational programs and services that address
3the diverse needs of students and communities throughout the state.

end insert
begin insert

4(e) California’s community colleges place a heavy importance
5on providing quality educational facilities that are accessible to
6all members of the community.

end insert
begin insert

7(f) Community colleges and local educational agencies, as well
8as other public agencies, are subject to design and construction
9oversight by the Division of the State Architect. The Division of
10the State Architect evaluates compliance with building code and
11Education Code requirements for accessibility, structural safety,
12and fire and life safety on new construction projects and on
13modernization projects.

end insert
begin insert

14(g) As part of its responsibilities, the Division of the State
15Architect performs a project closeout to determine that the project
16complies with codes and regulations governing school construction,
17including accessibility. This process examines facilities for specific
18requirements before, during, and after construction to ensure any
19outstanding issues have been resolved. At the end of construction,
20the Division of the State Architect issues a closeout letter for the
21project that indicates compliance with applicable rules and
22regulations.

end insert
begin insert

23(h) In light of the participation of the Division of the State
24Architect in the design and construction of facilities of community
25colleges and local educational agencies, it is appropriate that
26these facilities receive additional protections already extended to
27private defendants in construction-accessibility actions.

end insert
28

begin deleteSECTION 1.end delete
29begin insertSEC. 2.end insert  

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

30

54.26.  

(a) For any action commenced on or after January 1,
312016, or for an action commenced prior to that date for which a
32final judgment has not been entered, the following shall apply:

33(1) New construction or alteration of a structure conducted by
34a public entity on or before September 15, 2010, that complies
35with the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or the
36Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards are deemed not in
37violation of this part.

38(2) New construction or alteration of a structure conducted by
39a public entity on or after September 15, 2010, and before March
4015, 2012, that complies with either the 1991 ADA Standards for
P4    1Accessible Design or 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design
2are deemed not in violation of this part.

3(3) New construction or alteration of a structure conducted by
4a public entity on or after March 15, 2012, that complies with the
52010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or the applicable code
6in place at the time of construction or alteration are deemed not in
7violation of this part.

8(4) Elements in existing facilities of a public entity that have
9not been altered on or before March 15, 2012, that comply with
10the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or 2010 ADA
11Standards for Accessible Design are deemed not in violation of
12this part.

13(b) A public entity’s possession of a closeout letter from the
14State Architect certifying that the public buildings, public facilities,
15and other public places to which the letter applies meet the
16applicable building and construction-related accessibility standards
17of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act shall serve as
18presumptive evidence that the public buildings, facilities, and
19places are in compliance with this part and the federal Americans
20with Disabilities Act.

21

begin deleteSEC. 2.end delete
22begin insertSEC. 3.end insert  

Section 55.52 of the Civil Code is amended to read:

23

55.52.  

(a) For purposes of this part, the following definitions
24apply:

25(1) “Construction-related accessibility claim” means any civil
26claim in a civil action with respect to a place of public
27accommodation, including, but not limited to, a claim brought
28under Section 51, 54, 54.1, or 55, based wholly or in part on an
29alleged violation of any construction-related accessibility standard,
30as defined in paragraph (6).

31(2) “Application for stay and early evaluation conference” means
32an application to be filed with the court that meets the requirements
33of subdivision (c) of Section 55.54.

34(3) “Certified access specialist” or “CASp” means any person
35 who has been certified pursuant to Section 4459.5 of the
36Government Code.

37(4) “Meets applicable standards” means the site was inspected
38by a CASp and determined to meet all applicable
39construction-related accessibility standards pursuant to paragraph
40(1) of subdivision (a) of Section 55.53. A site that is “CASp
P5    1inspected” on or before the effective date of the amendments made
2to this section by Senate Bill 1186 of the 2011-12 Regular Session
3of the Legislature means that the site “meets applicable standards.”

4(5) “Inspected by a CASp” means the site was inspected by a
5CASp and is pending a determination by the CASp that the site
6meets applicable construction-related accessibility standards
7pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 55.53. A
8site that is “CASp determination pending” on or before the effective
9date of the amendments made to this section by Senate Bill 1186
10of the 2011-12 Regular Session of the Legislature means that the
11site was “inspected by a CASp.”

12(6) “Construction-related accessibility standard” means a
13provision, standard, or regulation under state or federal law
14requiring compliance with standards for making new construction
15and existing facilities accessible to persons with disabilities,
16including, but not limited to, any provision, standard, or regulation
17set forth in Section 51, 54, 54.1, or 55 of this code, Section 19955.5
18of the Health and Safety Code, the California Building Standards
19Code (Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations), the federal
20Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336; 42
21U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq.), and the federal Americans with
22Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (Appendix A to Part 36
23of Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations).

24(7) (A) “Place of public accommodation” has the same meaning
25as “public accommodation,” as set forth in Section 12181(7) of
26Title 42 of the United States Code and the federal regulations
27adopted pursuant to that section.

28(B) For any action commenced on or after that January 1, 2016,
29or for an action commenced prior to that date for which a final
30judgment has not been entered, “place of public accommodation”
31also means public buildings, public facilities, and other public
32places ofbegin insert an educational institution ofend insert a public entity as defined
33in Section 12131(1) of Title 42 of the United States Code and any
34related federal regulations.

35(8) “Qualified defendant” means a defendant in an action that
36includes a construction-related accessibility claim that is asserted
37against a place of public accommodation that met the requirements
38of “meets applicable standards” or “inspected by a CASp” prior
39to the date the defendant was served with the summons and
40complaint in that action. To be a qualified defendant, the defendant
P6    1is not required to have been the party who hired any CASp, so
2long as the basis of the alleged liability of the defendant is a
3construction-related accessibility claim. To determine whether a
4defendant is a qualified defendant, the court need not make a
5finding that the place of public accommodation complies with all
6applicable construction-related accessibility standards as a matter
7of law. The court need only determine that the place of public
8accommodation has a status of “meets applicable standards” or
9“inspected by a CASp.”

10(9) “Site” means a place of public accommodation.

11(b) Unless otherwise indicated, terms used in this part relating
12to civil procedure have the same meanings that those terms have
13in the Code of Civil Procedure.



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