[Nfbc-info] ADA damages don't require intent in California ruling by state supreme court

ckrugman at sbcglobal.net ckrugman at sbcglobal.net
Fri Jun 19 07:27:52 UTC 2009

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From: ckrugman at sbcglobal.net 
Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009 12:13 AM
Subject: ADA damages don't require intent in California ruling by state supreme court

    ADA Damages Suits Don't Require Intent, Calif. Supreme Court Rules

Mike McKee
The Recorder <http://www.law.com/jsp/ca/subscribe_intermediate.jsp>
June 12, 2009

Businesses that violate the Americans with Disabilities
even if unintentionally, can be sued for damages, the California Supreme
Court ruled unanimously on Thursday.

Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar concluded that was a reasonable
interpretation of the state Legislature's decision in 1992 to adopt Civil
Code §51(f) to amend the state's Unruh Civil Rights
Act<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unruh_Civil_Rights_Act>to include
violations of the ADA. While the ADA provides only injunctive
relief whether the harm was intentional or not, Section 52 of the Unruh Act
provides for damages of at least $4,000 or as much as three times the actual

"By incorporating the ADA into the Unruh Civil Rights Act, California's own
civil rights law covering public accommodations, which does provide for ...
a private damages action," Werdegar wrote, "the Legislature has afforded
this remedy to persons injured by a violation of the ADA."

A disabled man, Kenneth Munson, sued Del Taco after complaining that its
restaurant in Loma Linda, Calif., near San Bernardino, didn't provide
disabled parking or handicapped-accessible public toilets. Del Taco later
spent $75,000 on renovations.

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund <http://www.lambdalegal.org/>, which
filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, hailed the ruling.

"Real, reliable change for people with disabilities has been painfully
slow," staff attorney Tara Borelli of Los Angeles said in a prepared
statement. "But the high court's decision ... promises greater fairness in

Munson was represented by Russell Handy, a lawyer with the San Marcos,
Calif.-based Center for Disability Access, while Del Taco was represented by
Newport Beach, Calif., attorney Lisa Wegner. Brad Seligman, of Berkeley's
Impact Fund, represented nine amici, including the California Council of the

The ruling is *Munson v. Del Taco Inc.* , 09 C.D.O.S. 7253.

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