Among the most frustrating claims of disability for landlords, businesses and clear thinking lawyers are those involving mental impairments – invisible disabilities whose very existence is hard to determine. For this blog we’re stepping away from strictly new cases to look at some older cases that help define the circumstances under which a mental impairment like anxiety or depression is truly disabling. The key, we will see, is whether there is a substantial limitation on one or more major life activities. More
Definition of disability
Obvious but often overlooked – it takes more than an impairment to be disabled under the ADA (or FHA)
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, ADA regulations, Definition of disability, FHA definition of handicap, Uncategorized Tags: ADA, Alcoholism, disability, FHA, Major life activity
The March 13 decision in Johnson v. NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, 1:16-cv-9769 (S.D.N.Y. March 13, 2018) shouldn’t be particularly interesting. The plaintiff claimed to be disabled because he was a recovering alcoholic. The Court dismissed the complaint because the plaintiff did not allege that his alcoholism interfered with a major life activity, explaining:
Although alcoholism is considered an ” impairment” under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act , “more than a physical or mental impairment is required ” to satisfy the definition of “disability. ” Because ” [m]ere status as an alcohol or substance abuser does not necessarily imply a limitation under the anti-discrimination statutes, a plaintiff who alleges that he is disabled “must demonstrate not only that he . . . was actually addicted to drugs or alcohol in the past, but also that this addiction substantially limits one or more of his . . . major life activities. ” (quoting an earlier case). More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - serial litigation, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, Definition of disability, FHA definition of handicap, Internet Accessibility Tags: ADA Internet, ADA website, Groundhog Day, Major life activity, Punxsutawney Phil
It looks like six more weeks of winter based on the reaction of Punxsutawney Phil to the long shadow he casts over weather forecasting. The last week of ADA decisions seems to confirm that it will remain chilly for businesses as well.
If Punxsutawney Phil had seen Robles v. Yum! Brands, Inc., 2018 WL 566781 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 24, 2018) when he popped out of his hole on Groundhog Day he probably would have just given up and stayed inside for the rest of the year. Robles is another web accessibility case in which the district court simultaneously refuses to say just what an accessible website is and requires the defendant to build one. In other words, no summary judgment is possible and the defendant faces an expensive legal battle after which it may be ordered to do something impossible or, worse still, ordered to do something so ill-defined that it will lead to an endless argument about compliance. We discussed this in more detail in our earlier blog “What is an ADA accessible website? Well, it’s complicated.” More
After reading a recent blog in which the author asserted that “handicap” under the Fair Housing Act had the same meaning as “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act I thought it would be useful to re-visit this question, which I last wrote about in 2014. There have been a few new decisions, none decisive, and the bottom line remains the same. The 2008 amendments to the ADA changed the definition of “disabled,” but there was no equivalent amendment to the FHA. Ordinary principles of statutory interpretation require the conclusion that the two words no longer have the same meaning. For all the details see my earlier blog by clicking this LINK. It has been updated with the more recent decisions in this area.
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA FHA Litigation General, Definition of disability, major life activity Tags: ADA disability, ada litigation, dyslexia, mental health disabilities, Mental Impairment, private litigants
In Winston Groom’s “Forrest Gump” a young man with a significant intellectual impairment manages to accomplish great things through a combination of luck, determination, and insistent loyalty to his friends and family. Was he disabled as that term is defined under the ADA? An April 11 decision from the Easter District of Pennsylvania reminds us how complex a disability determination can be. It also highlights a persistent question with intellectual and other mental impairments: If hard work and character allow someone to overcome their limitations, is that person really disabled? Bibber v. National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiner, Inc., 2016 WL 1404157 (E.D. Penn. April 11, 2016). More