Indies Ask House for Protection From 'Frivolous' ADA Suits

Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
Bridget Headshot

The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, and 28 state trade associations, sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives that encouraged lawmakers to pass the ADA Reform and Education Act of 2017 (H.R. 620). According to the NGA, the legislation aims to “protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits brought by ethically questionable lawyers often only seeking a payout instead of protecting disabled patrons.”

To give stores the chance to correct potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the bill would give supermarket operators 60-days to respond to allegations after receiving written warning, and 120-days to make substantial progress toward addressing the alleged violation.

“In recent years, supermarket operators are no longer simply negotiating slip-and-fall lawsuits, but patent trolling and the threat of ADA litigation as well,” noted the letter, addressed to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “Often, ADA litigators have never been in the store that they are threatening to sue, or do not have a client that has been injured or harmed in any way. These attorneys regularly send threatening letters to store owners in hopes of an easy settlement.”

“Independent grocers are committed to complying with all ADA guidelines and making their stores accessible to disabled customers,” said Chris Jones, VP of government relations and counsel at Arlington, Va.-based NGA. “Any supermarket found to have shortcomings under the ADA should be granted an opportunity to take corrective measures without the threat of a frivolous lawsuit from lawyers who are more interested in making a buck than protecting the rights of the disabled.”

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