CASp, the Certified Access Specialist Program offers a variety of benefits to businesses that get a CASp certification. The advantages can be further gleamed from the California Chamber of Commerce website [link: Advantages of CASp for businesses]. The main advantages of CASp certification are many (including a 90 day stay and a limit of $4k per effected violation per visit). Yet because CASp is California law and the ADA is Federal law, many business owners we’ve talked with are concerned about the effectiveness of SB1608. Business owners concerned about Federal Court sGuits often ask:
“Is CASp worth getting?”
A recent court case provides a real life example of this issue. A business which had CASp certification was sued in Federal Court. Now, Federal judges do not have to honor the California law, for instance, they do not have to grant the 90 day stay. This judge chose not to.
So, is CASp worth it?
Keep in mind that the differences between Federal and State court for ADA lawsuits are many. We can’t go over these things exhaustively but we will outline the general principles at this current time. Keep in mind that your case is unique and if you are under a lawsuit you must consult an attorney, don’t rely on this post for advice — this article is covering a topic. We are not giving legal advice.
If you are sued in Federal Court, you have the possibility of fixing the issue in question in order to make the lawsuit go away. Also, if you offer to settle and the plaintiff attorney refuses the settlement and you fix the issue, you may not have to pay for their attorneys fees (the judge may waive those damages).
In California Court, you fixing the issue in question doesn’t make the issue go away. Violations valid at the time of the encounter remain violations for which damages under the Unruh Act automatically entitle the plaintiff party $4k. Furthermore, the Unruh Act also specifies that attorneys fees will be paid.
So while CASp can’t provide coverage into areas of Federal law, it does provide some stronger incentives for plaintiffs to sue a CASp business under Federal Court. If the plaintiff takes you to California court, CASp goes into effect, and you can go straight to arbitration. However, they take you to Federal Court, you may still get arbitration… if you don’t, your fighting chances are better — you can STILL fix the issue in question and win the suit that way… an option we are told, is not available in California Court.
So overall, in answering the question above, the answer is:
Without CASp, a savvy plaintiff will take you to California Court, in which you will pay the same $4k plus attorney’s fees (potentially tens of thousands of dollars). With CASp you either pay $4k at most, or you can go to Federal court and have a chance at making the issue go away. Get CASp now to cover yourself!
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