ADA Seminars in Modesto and Redlands This Week
By Todd Roberson on 03/14/2012 @ 12:00 PM
CJAC will be holding two seminars on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance this week.
On Thursday, CJAC Legislative Director Katherine Pettibone will present to the International Code Council in Modesto. The seminar will go from 11:30pm-1:00pm.
On Friday, CJAC President Kim Stone will present at the Redlands Chamber of Commerce. Assemblyman Mike Morrell is co-hosting the event and it will last from 7:30am-9:30am.
If you would like to attend, please call us at 916-443-4900 for more details.
While CJAC seminars are educational only, not specific legal advice, they help small business owners become more familiar with the law and how to avoid a costly lawsuit.
If you would like us to hold an ADA compliance seminar in your area, please give us a call.
ADA Reform Bills Abound
By Todd Roberson on 03/06/2012 @ 11:00 AM
There is no shortage of proposals in the California Legislature this year to change the way the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is enforced in our state, a reflection of the fact that the problem of abusive ADA lawsuits is not getting any better. Fully understanding and complying with both the federal ADA and the state disabled access regulation continues to be a challenge for too many small business owners, and it is clear that more needs to be done to reduce the number of lawsuits while continuing to increase access for the disabled.
At this point, the following bills from legislators across the state and from both parties have been identified as attempts to address this problem:
AB 1610 - Don Wagner (R-Irvine) - Provides for notice of an alleged ADA violation and provides 120 days to fix the violations before a lawsuit can be filed.
AB 1878 - Beth Gaines (R-Roseville) - Provides for notice of an alleged ADA violation and provides 120 days to fix the violations before a lawsuit can be filed.
AB 1879 - Beth Gaines (R-Roseville) - Requires the State Architect to prepare a report containing all federal and state disabled access regulations and note any state regulations that are in direct conflict with federal regulations.
AB 1994 - Alyson Huber (D-El Dorado Hills) - Requires all complaints to be filed with the county planning department where an alleged disabled access violation has occurred and that the county work with a certified access specialist to develop a compliance schedule for remedying violations.
AB 2282 - Bill Berryhill (R-Ceres) - Currently a spot bill relating to ADA lawsuits (a placeholder that may be amended later into a substantive bill).
AB 2325 - Chris Norby (R-Fullerton) - Provides for notice of an alleged ADA violation and provides 120 days to fix the violations before a lawsuit can be filed.
SB 1186 - Robert Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) - Provides for notice of an alleged ADA violation and provides 90 days to fix the violations before a lawsuit can be filed.
Plaintiffs' Lawyers Aim to Overturn Supreme Court Ruling on Medical Damages
By Todd Roberson on 02/27/2012 @ 02:00 PM
As expected, a plaintiffs' lawyer-backed bill to undo last year's California Supreme Court ruling in Howell v. Hamilton Meats has been introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). The bill, SB 1528, was introduced on Friday and would allow an injured plaintiff to recover the costs of medical services "without regard to the amount actually paid."
In its ruling last August, which you can read more about here, the Supreme Court held that a plaintiff may only collect as damages the amount that was actually paid by insurers for medical treatment rather than the retail rate that medical providers would charge for that treatment.
Medical providers establish negotiated rates of reimbursement with insurance companies that are lower than what they would charge an uninsured patient who receives medical treatment.
In the Howell v. Hamilton Meats case, the plaintiff had health insurance for which a negotiated rate was already agreed upon, the medical providers were fully reimbursed at the negotiated rate, and the plaintiff was compensated for all out-of-pocket costs.
Thus, the Court stated that it is not appropriate to “expand the scope of economic damages to include expenses the plaintiff never incurred.”
Plaintiffs' lawyers, however, want the higher rate used to determine damages to increase the size of the settlements from which they get paid.
Look out for a major a battle this year over SB 1528...
Big Win for Arbitration in U.S. Supreme Court
By Todd Roberson on 02/22/2012 @ 12:00 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court kept up its defense of arbitration yesterday, finding that a West Virginia court's attempt to prohibit pre-dispute arbitration of claims against nursing homes is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The case, Marmet Health Center v. Brown et al., dealt with three negligence suits brought against nursing homes in West Virginia. The Supreme Court ruled that West Virginia's prohibition against pre-dispute agreements to arbitrate personal injury or wrongful death claims against nursing homes is a categorical rule prohibiting arbitration of a particular type of claim, which is contrary to the terms and coverage of the FAA.
We applaud the Supreme Court for standing up for arbitration as a fair, effective, quicker, and cheaper way to settle disputes than civil trials. And in case there is anyone in California interested in prohibiting pre-dispute arbitration agreements in our state, this ruling makes clear that you shouldn't bother.
Read more about the ruling here.
$50,000 in Attorneys Fees Over a $261 Dispute?
By Todd Roberson on 02/14/2012 @ 08:00 AM
In last Thursday's edition of the Daily Journal (Feb 9th), Los Angeles attorneys Joseph Lipner and BJ Ard take a look at significant civil law developments in the California Supreme Court over the past year ("The Final Word: Civil Law Development in the State Supreme Court").
We have to point out one that we are disappointed with.
In Serrano v. Stefan Merli Plastering Co., the Court ruled that a court reporting service that lost a dispute over a $261 fee charged for expediting a deposition transcript is liable for up to $50,000 in attorneys fees!
While the appellate court accepted the challenge to the $261 fee, it rejected the attorneys fee claims, as the trial court had.
The Supreme Court unfortunately ruled in a 6-1 decision that attorneys fees were authorized when an action has enforced "an important right affecting the public interest."
We're going to have to say that a pay day of $50,000 over a $261 fee which may or may not have been improper seems a bit out of whack.
You can find the column by Lipner and Ard at www.dailyjournal.com (subscription required).