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Madeline Cline – 1st District Supervisor Candidate (Photo provided by Madeline Cline)

Author: Madeline Cline

Letter to the Editor – SB 585

The recent passage of SB 585 out of the California State Senate is a major step towards protecting small businesses and individuals with disabilities in our state. This legislation addresses construction-related accessibility claims and introduces crucial reforms to shield small businesses from exploitative litigation.

For too long, bad actor trial attorneys have been able to take advantage of state law by seeking out plaintiffs to make bogus accessibility claims against small businesses who can’t afford to fight back. Small, mundane issues like a bathroom door being slightly too narrow or a mirror being slightly too high are used to threaten a lawsuit and extract thousands of dollars from unsuspecting businesses.

SB 585 is timely, as the trend of lawsuit abuse continues to grow. Senator McGuire should be applauded for supporting this bill andvoting in favor of it, helping to break this decades-long trend of any progress on this issue stalling.

SB 585 takes a comprehensive approach to curbing abuse by reforming statutory damages, attorney’s fees, and associated costs of construction-related accessibility claims. By implementing these reforms, the bill establishes vital safeguards for businesses, diminishing the threat of opportunistic lawsuits. 

Moreover, SB 585 strikes an admirable balance by introducing necessary protections while upholding the fundamental rights of individuals with disabilities. The bill’s commitment to protecting inclusivity and equal opportunities reflects California’s mission to create a state welcoming to people of all abilities.  

SB 585 now advances to the State Assembly, and securing the support of our local representative, Assemblymember Jim Wood, will be vital to seeing the bill become law.

The passage of SB 585 could stand as a significant achievement by state lawmakers, bringing a more equitable and accessible environment for all stakeholders involved and help our Mendocino County small businesses that have been impacted by this issue.

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