Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Campins on the New California Anti-Serial-Litigation Law

Ace disability rights and employment lawyer Julia Campins has this post on her law firm's blog about SB1186, the new California law that is supposed to respond to serial litigation.  A taste:
Others have commented on the First Amendment concerns in the new demand letter requirements, and I will not address those. What I am concerned with here is how this legislation will work to the detriment of those who need to use courts to protect their civil rights, and will barely cause a ripple in the practices of the targets of this legislation.

Let’s return to the story of the problem litigants. How hard of a requirement is it for them to list the date or dates of their visits? Indeed, they planned the visit for the purpose of the litigation. How hard of a requirement is it for them to list the specific barriers? They went with an eye toward barriers and, like a paid expert, were looking for specific violations. 
Now, compare this problem litigant to a real person visiting a public accommodation because she likes the food or he needs to purchase some clothing. She may not make a calendar entry every time she goes to Burger King. Do you? He may not go clothing shopping on a regular basis. Both may use cash and not get receipts. She may remember that there was a problem getting into the restaurant, but not remember until she returns or is reminded that not only was the door impossible for her to open, but there wasn’t enough room for her to open it. Or, more importantly, if she was unable to get into the restaurant at all, how is she to know that there was no seating for people who use wheelchairs? The legislation makes her lawsuit difficult or impossible (assuming that it is interpreted to require specific dates of visits), but has done nothing to stop the intended targets.

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