As expected, a state Senate committee today defeated a bill that would have given some property owners six months to fix disability access violations before making them civilly liable.
Majority Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee said they wanted to give a 2008 state law on disability access -- Senate Bill 1608 -- more time to work before considering major changes to the area of litigation.
That law, forged through years of negotiations among legislators, trial lawyers and business groups, offers some litigation protection for property owners who consult with a certified access specialist. It also created a commission to offer guidance to the Legislature and the public on access laws.
“We have a process that is workable,” said one of the law’s authors, Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro. “It is newer … We need to give it a little more time to work.”
But state Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said the law isn’t working, noting a spate of disability access lawsuits that were recently filed in his district.
“Maybe our next step is to work more closely with the courts to get their support” since a reduction in disability lawsuits would reduce caseloads, said Dutton spokesman Larry Venus. The senator may also pursue changes that would direct damages for small violations to a charity fund, Venus said.