SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Senator Dianne Feinstein is urging California legislators to address the problem of so-called “drive-by” lawsuits that are filed against business owners in the state.

Feinstein said she is concerned that lawsuits filed under the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act are threatening the viability of some small businesses.

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The unique California law allows a $4,000 charge per violation per day for businesses found in noncompliance with the ADA.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Senator Feinstein said shakedown tactics are often used by lawyers, who get small business owners to pay a settlement for them to walk away from the case.

“This does not benefit the disability community because it’s just, you have to pay me or I’m going to sue you,” said Feinstein. “So they pay and the lawyers gone. You don’t know whether it’s actually remedied or not.”

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Feinstein recently wrote a letter to Senate President Pro tem Darrell Steinberg urging support of a bill that would give a 90-day grace period from the time a violation letter is received before a suit could be filed.

A similar bill last year that would have granted a 120-day reprieve failed to pass.

“I think people who encounter an infraction like this should be given an opportunity to cure it, to stop it,” said Feinstein.

The senator warned that she would consider introducing legislation in the U.S. Senate if California lawmakers fail to take action.

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