Colorado has recently joined larger states like New York, Florida and California in suffering a wave of “Drive-by Litigation.”  Recently a single disabled plaintiff and Florida attorneys have filed many nearly identical lawsuits designed to extort settlements from Denver Metro Area businesses for failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  Channel 7 News reports that these same two attorneys have filed hundreds of similar lawsuits in other states.

How can you avoid your business becoming the target of a drive-by ADA lawsuit?  You can start by auditing your business for ADA compliance.

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses open to the public (the law calls them “places of public accommodation”) to accommodate people with disabilities, by providing goods and services in such a way that the disabled have an equal opportunity to enjoy those goods and services.  See the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section, Title III Highlights.

Removing barriers is one of the most common actions businesses find they need to take to bring their business into ADA compliance.  Examples of barrier removal include ramps, widening doorways, making bathrooms ADA compliant, and rearranging merchandise displays. 

But a lot more may be required to bring your business into full compliance with the ADA.   The government has developed Accessibility Guidelines that include specific guidance for certain types of businesses and buildings.  See Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines Checklist for Buildings and Facilities.

Despite all the regulation, there is flexibility in the law.  For example, structural alterations made after January, 1992 must be ADA compliant, provided that the cost of those alterations is not disproportionate considering the overall cost of the alteration.  So, what is a disproportionate cost?  It may depend on the specific facts of your business.

If you have questions about how the ADA applies to you and how to conduct a compliance audit, contact our Business Law Group attorney, David A. Closson, at [email protected].

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