Real Estate Law: ADA Violations Do Not Require Intent

In Munson v. Del Taco, the Supreme Court of California has held that a plaintiff does not need to prove “intentional discrimination” to obtain the remedies available under the Unruh Civil Rights Act (“Unruh Act”) for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

In California, individuals may sue for violations of the ADA under the Unruh Act. (Civil Code § 51) The Unruh Act was enacted in 1905 to provide the citizens of California with full and equal treatment in places of public accommodation. In 1992 the California legislature amended the Unruh Act to specifically provide that a violation of the ADA also constitutes a violation of the Unruh Act, thus providing claimants with the remedies provided by Civil Code § 52. These remedies include up to a maximum of three times the amount of actual damage but in no case less than $4,000 per violation, plus attorney’s fees. (Civil Code § 51(f))

Prior to Munson, California courts have held that a claimant must establish that the ADA discrimination was intentional before being permitted to obtain the remedies provided by § 52. Following an analysis of both the Unruh Act and the ADA, the Supreme Court of California held that, “a plaintiff proceeding under section 51, subdivision (f) may obtain statutory damages on proof of an ADA access violation without the need to demonstrate additionally that the discrimination was intentional.”

Walton Law Firm LLP defends property owners, landlords and business owners against claims of ADA violations. If you have been sued or served with a notice of intent to sue for a violation of the ADA, please contact us for a confidential consultation.

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