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Brown bans ‘demand for money’’ letters over disability issues

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Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a law aimed at protecting businesses from being shaken down by attorneys who threaten lawsuits over disability access violations unless the owners pay a cash settlement.

The measure bans issuing ‘demand for money’ letters to businesses that have construction- related barriers to acccess by disabled people, including a lack of ramps for wheelchairs and passageways that are too narrow.

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SB 1186l was introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assemblyman Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga), and also reduces damanges that can be sought against business owners who correct problems within 60 days of getting a complaint.

``This bipartisan bill retains the state’s strong disability-rights protections, while helping put an end to predatory practices that squeeze small businesses and do little to improve access,’' Brown said in a statement.

Steinberg said he supports state and federal laws requiring building access for the disabled.

He said some ‘demand for money’ letters currently result in payments without the access problems being addressed.

‘Up until now, unfortunately, it was often cheaper and quicker for business owners to settle out of court than to remove those obstacles,” said Steinberg.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento


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