WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Asian American Hotel Owners Association applauded the House Judiciary Committee’s approval today of a bill that will cut down the number of illegitimate lawsuits filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Small businesses—hotels in particular—have been hit with nearly 10,000 “drive-by” lawsuits and subsequent settlement demands under the ADA in the last two years.
“We thank and commend Chairman Bob Goodlatte and the Judiciary Committee for advancing this worthy and bipartisan bill,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AAHOA.
The ADA Education and Reform Act by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, will strengthen the ADA and ultimately increase access, Rogers said.
“Unscrupulous attorneys and plaintiffs are abusing the ADA by using the ‘sue and settle’ model. They file vague lawsuits alleging non-existent or easily-fixed issues and quickly offer to make the problem go away for a few thousand dollars,” said Rogers. “The ADA Education and Reform Act contains common-sense reforms that will strengthen the law and curb the frivolous lawsuits.”
Some of the bill’s provision include allowing businesses to address issues before litigation and requiring the allegations to be specified in more detail.
Overly broad, vague, or outright false allegations are the hallmark of the drive-by lawsuits, said Georgia hotelier and AAHOA member Mili Shah when she testified before a judiciary subcommittee in May.
Shah was a victim of a vague drive-by lawsuit that alleged an issue with her hotel’s pool, which has been closed, empty, and covered as long as she’s owned the property. The plaintiff had never stayed or had a reservation, and, with the same attorney, filed nearly 100 similar lawsuits against other Georgia businesses.
“Hoteliers have long supported the ADA because we want to provide a welcoming experience for all of our guests,” Shah told the panel. “Unfortunately, the law has become a weapon for scheming lawyers seeking to squeeze small business owners into quick settlements.”
Rogers urged the House to act on the bill before the chamber’s summer recess.
“This bipartisan bill will be a win for small businesses, who provide nearly three-fourths of all new jobs in America. At the same time, the reforms will strengthen the law and help eliminate barriers,” said Rogers.
Founded in 1989, AAHOA (www.aahoa.com) is the largest hotel owners association in the world, with more than 15,000 small business owner-members. AAHOA members own almost one in every two hotels in the United States.