Senator Linda Stewart, District 13 — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2017
Ali Akin Kurnaz,
Senator Linda Stewart Files New Legislation Better Helping Disabled Floridians & Cracking Down on "Drive-By" Lawsuits
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) on Wednesday filed Senate Bill 1398 with Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) to create a voluntary program that promotes accessibility for the disabled, provides businesses with guidance on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and gives courts a tool to reject claims for attorneys’ fees and costs in “drive-by” lawsuits. The lawmakers will join State Rep. Tom Leek (R-Ormond Beach) to discuss the legislation on Friday, March 10, 2017 at 9:30 AM in the State Capitol’s House Media Room.
“We are taking key steps to ensure the Americans with Disabilities Act is used for the purpose for which it was intended—to protect our friends and neighbors with a disability, and not as a money-making scheme for unscrupulous attorneys,” said Sen. Stewart. “Florida’s small businesses will now have access to information and guidance that ensures they are taking proactive steps to accommodate anyone who wants to shop there.”
Drive-by lawsuits were recently the focus of CBS’s 60 Minutes, which highlighted the abuses of certain law firms that have sought out unsuspecting hotels, restaurants, and other local employers to file hundreds of frivolous lawsuits based on highly technical violations of the ADA. Violations can be as simple as misplaced signs or failing to include the words “Van Accessible” on parking signs. Senate Bill 1398 provides businesses with resources to increase accessibility for places of public accommodation and gives courts a tool to handle drive-by ADA lawsuits accordingly.
“This is good, common sense public policy that makes a real difference in our communities, and gives the ADA back to the people for whom it was written—Americans with disabilities,” said Rep. Leek, who filed House Bill 727 as a companion bill in the Florida House of Representatives.
“This bill is a big win for both the disability and business communities, and I am proud to stand behind it,” said Senator Baxley.