November 26, 2013

Supreme Court will answer Ninth Circuit question

It took a little longer than usual, but the Supreme Court today decided to answer another question asked by the Ninth Circuit.

In Beauchamp v. City of Long Beach, the Supreme Court will address this question (potentially two questions, actually) posed by the federal Court of Appeals:  “Section 54.3(a) of the California Civil Code provides that a person who violates the California Disabled Persons Act (CDPA), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 54, 54.1, is liable for actual damages for ‘each offense . . . but in no case less than one thousand dollars ($1,000).’  Does the phrase ‘each offense’ refer to each occasion when a plaintiff encounters a barrier that denies the plaintiff full and equal access to a public facility, or should a trial court construe ‘each offense’ more narrowly, particularly in situations where a plaintiff repeatedly encounters the same barrier?  If the phrase ‘each offense’ is not susceptible to a narrower construction, under what circumstances would the penalty scheme in section 54.3 violate the due process clause of the state constitution?”

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