Kansas Legislature sends bill designed to restrain ADA lawsuits to Gov. Laura Kelly

by Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector
April 3, 2023

TOPEKA — The House and Senate agreed to send Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday a watered down bill aimed at deterring out-of-state attorneys from filing lawsuits against businesses in Kansas alleging websites didn’t comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The original version of a measure, transformed through negotiations into House Bill 2016, was viewed as a heavy-handed attempt to interfere with ADA compliance litigation. The alternative, adopted by the House 83-37 and in the Senate 35-5, was a softer approach that authorized Attorney General Kris Kobach to file countersuits if a lawsuit was deemed “abusive” by the courts.

“The reason this bill was introduced is that there are out-of-state attorneys targeting small businesses in Kansas over ADA violations on their websites,” said Rep. Fred Patton, a Topeka Republican. “These small businesses either have to spend a significant amount of money defending these out-of-state claims or they simply pay to settle the case.”

“I want to stress this is only about abusive lawsuits involving website accessibility,” said Patton, an attorney and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

He said the bill would serve the state’s interests in anticipation the U.S. Department of Justice issued guidelines on what information a company’s website should feature to be compliant with the ADA. Provisions of the bill would expire when the Justice Department published guidance.

The Kansas bill, if signed by the governor, would grant businesses 90 days to correct any problem with information contained on a website. It wouldn’t, Patton said, preclude a person from asserting a right to equal access to public accommodations affirmed by the ADA.

Rep. John Carmichael, a Wichita Democrat and attorney, said the bill approved by the House and Senate was a “very, very different bill” than the version introduced on behalf of Kansas business lobbying organizations. He said the previous incarnation would have “shut the courthouse door to disabled Kansans on public accommodation cases.”

“I have to give my reluctant thanks to the Senate for the work that they’ve done to water this bill down to where it really does nothing,” Carmichael said. “It’s kind of turned into a high school project to see if they could find some way to get this thing passed.”

Carmichael said it would be wrong for Kansas to enact laws that intentionally inhibited access to the federal courthouse by people with disabilities.

Eric Stafford, who represents the Kansas Chamber, said the goal was to deter attorneys engaging in extortion and predatory practices by raining lawsuits down on businesses in Kansas. He said one lawyer who filed suit against a Kansas business had pursued at least 800 comparable cases since 2020.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttp://www.sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


― Advertisement ―


― Advertisement ―



― Advertisement ―

95.5 KNDY

1570/94.1 KNDY



Q 106.7 & 102.5 KQNK