With just 12 percent of the nation's disabled persons residing in the state, California faces 40 percent of the nation's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits each year, but a recently signed law aims to make it harder for lawyers to file frivolous and shakedown lawsuits.

State Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga), who introduced the measure together with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), said the new law addresses those situations “where unscrupulous attorneys are filing shakedown lawsuits against businesses in an effort to gain an easy payday with no intention of improving access for the disabled community.”

Among other things, the new law makes it illegal for attorneys to send "demand for money" letters to businesses. They can send letters that advise the businesses of access problems or other ADA violations, but they cannot demand payment while threatening to sue if the payment isn't received.

In addition, these letters of notification must be copied and send to the California State Bar and California Commission on Disability Access (CCDA) for review.

The law, effective since this past Sept. 20, also reduces fines for violators who correct the viiolations within 30 or 60 days, depending on the size of the business.