Disability lawsuits
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PHOENIX — State senators gave final approval Monday to legislation to give businesses time to fix violations of disability laws that opponents say they should already be obeying.

SB 1406 would require someone affected by a violation of the Arizonans with Disabilities Act to notify the business owner, who would have at least 30 days to fix the problem before litigation could be filed. The bill has already passed the House and now goes to the governor for his signature.

But the period of compliance could be much longer, 90 days or more, depending on the extent of the problem and whether building permits are required. Only if there is no action at that point could someone who has been harmed by a violation sue the business.

Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, questioned why businesses should be given time to not comply with a law she said amounts to illegal discrimination — in her way of looking at it, the same kind discrimination that keeps business owners from refusing to serve someone based on race.

“This bill is taking civil rights away from people,” she said.

“There’s no other group affected by civil rights laws that we would tolerate a 30-day cure period for it,” Hobbs said. “If somebody tried to walk into a restaurant who is black, and that restaurant said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, we’re not serving blacks,’ then that is a lawsuit right there.”

What has happened, said Sen. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, is “unscrupulous attorneys” have targeted businesses for what may be minor violations, file suit, negotiate a settlement and “line their own pockets at the expense of our disabled community.”

There is no dispute that thousands of businesses were hit with lawsuits, all filed by the same firm, with offers to drop the matter for a cash settlement. Attorney General Mark Brnovich succeeded in getting all the cases consolidated and dismissed as frivolous.

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