Op-Ed by: Anthony Phan & Victor Gomez
First, it was the coronavirus that crushed small businesses. Then it was the supply chain disruptions and inflation that drove up the cost of all goods and services. Add in the challenge of finding workers in a state with a very high unemployment rate and you can start to get a taste of what small business owners have had to overcome over the last 2 years. Unfortunately, the only thing business owners can consistently count on these days are legal attacks from trial attorneys, especially ADA lawsuit abuse that has plagued Silicon Valley.
California business owners, large and small, are trying to hang on. Our business community can survive temporary economic challenges, they are resilient. But these challenges are nothing compared to just one potential shakedown lawsuit that could wipe them out entirely– leaving business owners and their employees without a job and without a future. What we need now are resources that business owners can count on. AB 2164 provides exactly that.
Every day, California businesses face abusive, unwarranted lawsuits based on innoxious violations related to the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) and Americans with Disability Act lawsuits (ADA). Even if you don’t own a business, these abusive lawsuits impact all Californians through lost jobs, weakened productivity, and higher prices.
California is seeing lawsuit abuse inflation with the rise in Americans with Disability Act lawsuits increasing by 22 percent in California, while nationally filings have decreased. In fact, plaintiffs took no time off during the pandemic in looking for ADA violations such as filing suit up to $4,000 per violation for a mirror that is a quarter of an inch too high, toilet too low or the blue striping on a parking lot starting to fade.
A recent report from The Perryman Group shows how an unbalanced justice system results in increased costs, disincentives for innovation, and decreased economic productivity and output. The report calculates job losses of 748,775 due to excessive tort litigation in California. It also highlights how the benefits of tort reform can lead to substantial economic benefits and can help stem the tide of businesses leaving the state.
If AB 2164 is signed into law, small businesses will have the financial resources needed to make those necessary ADA improvements to their stores. This will result in fewer ADA lawsuits, allowing business owners to focus on serving their customers, hiring more employees, and expanding their business customer base.
Please join us in urging California legislators to support AB 2164 and put it on the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Anthony Phan is a Milpitas City Councilmember, and Victor Gomez is Executive Director of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.