Senator Linda Stewart, District 13 — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2017
Ali Akin Kurnaz,
Senator LInda Stewart's Disability Accommodations Bill Receives Senate Approval
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Determined to maintain her long-standing promise to protect the most vulnerable residents of the state, State Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) on Monday passed a public accommodations bill in a full vote on the Senate floor with unanimous, bipartisan support. SB 1398 creates 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.
“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,” 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. I would like to thank my colleague Rep. Tom Leek for his work on the House companion bill.”
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.