Existing California law allows a plaintiff to collect statutory damages in a construction-related accessibility claim against a place of public accommodation only if the plaintiff was denied full and equal access to the place of public accommodation on a particular occasion, as specified. It also requires a demand letter alleging the construction-related accessibility claim to, among other things, state facts sufficient to allow a reasonable person to identify the basis of the claim, and imposes a $1,000 limit on such statutory damages if the defendant demonstrates that it has, among other things, cured the construction-related accessibility violation within 60 days of being served with a complaint. Assembly Bill 54 (Olsen), introduced in early December 2014, seeks to amend this law to provide that, when a plaintiff brings a claim alleging a violation of a construction-related accessibility standard within 3 years of a change in that standard, a plaintiff may only collect statutory damages if she/he also provides the owner, agent, or other party responsible for the place in violation with a written notice or demand letter with specified information at least 60 days prior to filing any action and the violation is not cured.

California Civil Code § 55.56 would be amended to read (new language underlined): 

"(a) Statutory damages under either subdivision (a) of Section 52 or subdivision (a) of Section 54.3 may be recovered in a construction-related accessibility claim against a place of public accommodation only if a violation or violations of one or more construction-related accessibility standards denied the plaintiff full and equal access to the place of public accommodation on a particular occasion. occasion, and the requirements of Section 55.565 have been met, if applicable."

New California Civil Code § 55.565 would provide:

" (a) When a plaintiff brings a construction-related accessibility claim alleging a violation of a construction-related accessibility standard within three years of a change in that standard, statutory damages under subdivision (a) of Section 52 or subdivision (a) of Section 54.3 may be recovered against a place of public accommodation only if the plaintiff provides the owner, agent, or other party responsible for the place of public accommodation where the alleged violation occurred with sufficient written notice of the allegations and alleged access barriers on which the claim is based at least 60 days prior to the filing of any action and the alleged access barriers are not removed.

(b) A written notice is sufficient for the purposes of subdivision (a) if either of the following conditions is met: (1) The notice states facts sufficient to allow a reasonable person to identify the basis of the construction-related accessibility claim under subdivision (a) of Section 55.31 and states that the recipient may be civilly liable for actual and statutory damages for a violation of a construction-related accessibility requirement if the access barriers that constitute the basis of the construction-related accessibility claim are not removed within 60 days. (2) The notice is a written demand letter that offers prelitigation settlement negotiations in accordance with subdivision (b) of Section 55.31.

(c) For the purposes of this section, "construction-related accessibility claim," "construction-related accessibility standard," and "place of public accommodation" have the meanings set forth in Section 55.52."