Bad News for ADA Plaintiffs

In 2015, California tried to slow down the runaway freight train of ADA “architectural barrier” lawsuits by professional plaintiffs. Under amendments to the California Civil Code, professional plaintiffs and their law firms now had to identify themselves in their court pleadings as “high frequency litigants”, they had to pay an extra $1,000 filing fee, and they had to make specific disclosures to the targets of their lawsuits that they would not otherwise have to make.  

The professional plaintiffs and their law firms have been avoiding this problem by filing their lawsuits in federal courts, where they would not have to “put up with” the procedural and financial burdens of the 2015 California law.  The federal courts would exercise their discretion to consider and impose the $4,000 statutory penalty provided by state law, which would otherwise not be available under federal law – all while avoiding the procedural burdens of the state law imposes on “high frequency litigants.”

In a pending case we have with a professional plaintiff and his law firm in the US District Court, Central District (Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties), the District Court saw it for what it was: an attempt to skirt the more rigorous state law requirements for “high frequency litigants”. So, the court declined to exercise “supplemental jurisdiction”, effectively taking $4,000 off the table. The court cut to the chase: plaintiffs were using the federal court to avoid the burdens of state law, and the court wouldn’t stand for it.  

In consideration of the Court’s decision, we are actively considering how to utilize this decision to decline supplemental jurisdiction to the advantage of our current and future clients throughout California.