Despite the passage of a new law in May of 2016, small business owners in Minnesota continue to face a rash of lawsuits over Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) violations.
NFIB/MN State Director Mike Hickey says, “it is terrible lawsuit abuse” and “it’s really important that a change is made.” Per Hickey, more than 300 lawsuits have been filed in what many see as nothing more than a way to get quick settlements out of business owners.
A bill introduced in the House last spring was designed to severely curtail these suits, the Marshall Independent reports. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Smith (R-Maple Grove), put a one-year statute of limitations on “filing a civil lawsuit for failing to remove a barrier for people with disabilities” and “required that the business being sued had to be sent a letter demanding the removal of the barrier.”
No money could be requested to prevent a lawsuit and legal action couldn’t be taken until the one-month response time was over.
In addition, a business was given a legal defense if it could show it had removed the barrier or developed a plan to fix the problem. However, this was not the version that was ultimately signed into law; the language requiring attorneys to notify business owners and give them the time to comply was removed.
“We’re really disappointed in the version that was passed. We’re going to be back because these lawsuits are going to continue,” Hickey told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press last year.
Hickey, Rep. Smith, and small business owners throughout the state believe that toughening the Minnesota law would help reduce the number of these “demand” lawsuits.