By:  Lizbeth V. West, Esq.

On December 17, 2012, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Jankey v. Lee. The Court ruled that prevailing defendants in disability access cases brought under both the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and California Civil Code section 55 are entitled to their attorney’s fees just like prevailing plaintiffs are. The issue was vehemently disputed between that segment of the plaintiff’s bar that specializes in “shake-down” disability access lawsuits, and the California business community.

Weintraub Tobin (formerly “Weintraub Genshlea Chediak”) was retained by, and filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court on behalf of, 11 business and trade organizations including, the California Hotel & Lodging Association, the California Restaurant Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, the California Parks Company, the California Business Properties Association, Small Business California, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Building Owners and Managers Association of California, the California Building Industry Association, the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center, in support of Defendant.

We are pleased to announce that the California Supreme Court acknowledged and relied on a good deal of the legal authority and arguments contained in Weintraub Tobin’s amicus curiae brief and found that the attorney’s fee provision in California Civil Code section 55 is mandatory and is not preempted by the ADA.  For a more detailed summary of the Court’s decision please see attached legal alert.