CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

CA Supreme Court Rules Defendants Who Win ADA Lawsuits Can Receive Attorney's Fees

Posted on 12/18/2012 @ 03:00 PM

Tags: Americans With Disabilities Act

A major California Supreme Court ruling was issued yesterday in which the Court found that plaintiffs who lose disabled access lawsuits are liable for the defendant's attorney's fees.

In Jankey v. Lee, the plaintiff sued the owner of K&D Market, a small grocery store in San Francisco's Mission District, and argued that California law requiring fee awards to whomever wins was preempted by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The Supreme Court ruled that California law makes an award of fees to any prevailing party mandatory, and "the ADA does not preempt this part of the state's attorney fee scheme for disability access suits." This allows K&D Market to receive $118,458 in attorney's fees.

One-sided attorney's fees have been an enormous factor in the proliferation of disability access claims in California. Defendants had no incentive to fight a claim in court because even if they prevailed they would still have to pay their own attorney's fees. So, it was always cheaper to settle.

We applaud the Supreme Court for a great decision. You can read the ruling here.

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