Defenses When Your Business is Sued Under the ADA
If your business has been hit with a suit alleging a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, you may be confused, and frightened. But there are ways out of these kinds of lawsuits and understanding what to do when you are sued under the ADA can help you minimize legal exposure for your business.
Fixing the Problems
If you are served with a lawsuit alleging that something about your business is not compliant with the ADA, your best option is to try to fix the violation, or at least to fix as much as you can fix. This is because in some cases, once the violation is fixed, there is nothing else to litigate.
The Plaintiff’s lawsuit becomes moot—that is, there is no longer any controversy to litigate, given the property has been brought up to ADA compliance. Mootness also occurs when the alleged behavior has stopped or where there is no realistic possibility of it starting again.
What is the Violation?
In some cases it is clear from the complaint what the alleged violations are. If not, often a simple letter from your attorney to the other party can reveal the true nature of the violations. If the other side refuses to reveal this information, the case can possibly be dismissed, or at least, you may be able to cut off the other side’s right to attorneys fees.
All steps that you take to fix or remedy the problem should be tracked and saved.
The ADA does have an exception to the requirement to fix the offending behavior in older buildings, defined as buildings that existed before the ADA was enacted in 1993. This is where fixing the problem is not “readily achievable.” This defense can be helpful to owners who purchase property that existed before that date, but which is purchased with ADA violations.
A readily achievable repair is one that can be easily accomplished and can be done with minimal expense or difficulty. Courts will also compare the needed repair to the business itself, including the financial resources the business has, the number of employees, and how much the operations of the business will be interrupted or disrupted by the repairs.
As an example, a small individually owned gas station which could add handrails, add signage, or paint an area, may not be able to knock out an entire wall or modify permanent parts of the fixtures on the property.
Unfortunately, what is “readily achievable” may be in the eyes of the judge—meaning that even if you have a strong readily achievable defense, your case may need to be litigated and evidence gathered in order to prove that.
Whereas, if the alleged problems are things that can be fixed, those repairs and modifications can be done on your own, and shown to the court immediately, in order to get the lawsuit dismissed.
If your business is sued for any reason, get help now. Call the West Palm Beach business litigation lawyers at Pike & Lustig for help today.