Los Angeles partner David Raizman was quoted in a Daily Journal article, “Losing Plaintiff in Disability Suit Must Pay Defendant's Attorney’s Fees, State Supreme Court Rules.”
The article discusses the unanimous decision of the California Supreme Court that requires a wheelchair-using plaintiff who lost a disabilities access lawsuit against a small grocery store to pay the store owner's attorney fees. The ruling attempts to reconcile a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that only requires plaintiffs to pay defendants' attorney fees if the court deems their lawsuits frivolous.
The decision deals with one section of one of the three laws California plaintiffs rely on to sue for disability access violations — Section 55 of the Disabled Persons Act. The section provides standing to "potentially aggrieved" parties, not just those who have actually been harmed, and allows plaintiffs to sue for a broader range of violations than the other laws provide for. Plaintiffs usually bring Section 55 claims for additional violations of access laws that they don't know about at the time they file their suit.
It is distinct from the federal American with Disabilities Act and other state laws because it allows a prevailing defendant to seek attorney fees, not just a prevailing plaintiff.
David said he did not see the decision as having a major impact on access lawsuits because he knows many lawyers who abandoned Section 55 "well before this decision" because of looming concerns they would have to pay the defendants' attorney fees if they lost.