After my last blog on obesity and the ADA* Robert Taft, a subscriber who as far as I know is not related to the fattest U.S. President, William Howard Taft, was kind enough to point out several pending decisions that are likely to affect, if not clarify, the problems related to obesity as a disability. Today we’ll take a look at those cases and the influence they might have. More
Definition of disability
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
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
Attorney General Sessions’ withdrawal of various ADA guidances is good news for business, but only in the mildest way. Yesterday we looked at the withdrawal of two old guidances regarding service animals. Both were slightly out of date and their withdrawal did not make any substantive change in the requirements for businesses. Today we look at withdrawn guidances concerning accessible facilities and reach the same conclusion. Tomorrow we’ll look at the last of the ADA materials withdrawn, a guidance from the closing days of the Obama administration whose withdrawal may indeed have real consequences for state and local government.
The withdrawn guidances that include accessible facilities are:
- Common ADA Problems at Newly Constructed Lodging Facilities (November 1999).
- Title III Highlights (last updated 2008).
- Common ADA Errors and Omissions in New Construction and Alterations (June 1997).
- Common Questions: Readily Achievable Barrier Removal and Design Details: Van Accessible Parking Spaces (August 1996).
- Americans with Disabilities Act Questions and Answers (May 2002).