1. Donâ€™t ignore demand letters or lawsuits
For Sacramento business owners not familiar with full-time ADA plaintiffs such as Scott Johnson, it can be tempting to merely ignore disability access demand letters. This is a bad idea. ADA litigants have a large financial incentive to sue you. Therefore, it is important to open a dialogue and find a way to settle the dispute before it gets to court.
If you are served with a lawsuit, contact my office or another attorney immediately. Time is of the essence.
2. Preserve evidence from the time of the alleged incident
This is an important tip. Do you have security cameras? A POS system that records transactions daily? Invoices for each customer? These are all pieces of evidence that can be helpful to show that the plaintiff never actually visited your place of business.
Eye witness testimony from witnesses and employees on the day of the incident can be helpful too. Once you are made aware of an access claim, try to pin down the exact day upon which the incident occurred. Then collect evidence from that day to bolster your case that the plaintiff never set foot on your property.
3. Get a CASp Report
If you have not already received a CASp report, get one now. A CASp report will detail compliance issues with your property. A CASp report can also have legal benefits, including an automatic stay of legal proceedings, depending on when the report was created.
In any event, a CASp report is going to help you get your property into 100% compliance with the law.
4. Comply with the ADA
Complying with the ADA can be very time consuming and expensive. On the other hand, your property might only require minor upgrades. This is where a CASp report is going to help guide you.
The ADA is the law of the land. Your best defense to ADA lawsuits is to make sure that your property complies with the law.
5. Take a strong, principled approach to negotiations
We all want the same thing: safe, accessible access to places of public accommodation. However, that does not mean that plaintiffâ€™s attorneys should be able to shutter small businesses under the threat of exorbitant damages. Don't just cave to exorbitant settlement demands. Sometimes litigating your case can be more cost-effective depending on the settlement demands.
As a lawyer, I take pride in representing small businesses and landowners in these difficult cases. Contact my office at (916) 333-2222 for more information, especially if you have already been served with a lawsuit.