Like most of you I’ve been working from home for the last couple of months, meaning primarily that my dogs are getting a lot of exercise. There has been no sign of any slowdown in the ADA and FHA litigation business, so there is plenty to cover in this Quick Hits edition.
By Richard Hunt in ADA, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - Hotels, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Internet Web, ADA Mootness, FHA, Uncategorized Tags: ADA defense, FHA Defense, Gonzalez v Chinatown Hotel, Hillesheim, Scott Johnson
The Rite of Spring in the world of ADA and FHA litigation is a lot more like Stravinsky’s ballet – which terminates in the death of the lead character – than the bunnies and ducks that we usually associate with April. But whatever your spring festival, here’s the latest in the case law.
Corona Virus and Title III of the ADA
A great deal of attention has been paid to whether the disease Covid-19 constitutes a disability under the FHA and ADA. Crochet v. California College of the Arts, et al..,2020 WL 1815741 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 9, 2020) looks at a different aspect of the pandemic – whether injunctive relief matters when a physical place of business is only operating remotely. The plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction under the FHA to stop what she considered excessive rent charges. The court refused on the simple principle that money damages was an adequate remedy. This section of the opinion is worth reading because of its discussion of the principle that ordinary equitable limits on injunctive relief do not apply to the FHA. The plaintiff also wanted an injunction requiring the defendant to offer her the same level of shuttle bus service as other students. This the court refused because with the current California shut-in order there were no shuttle busses running and they were unlikely to start running before the plaintiff graduated. This raises the interesting question of how courts should deal with Title III ADA cases filed against businesses that are now shut down or offering only delivery service. Most cases will settle, but those that move forward will require deeper thinking about standing and available relief when the future is so uncertain. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, FHA, FHA definition of handicap, FHA Emotional Support Animals, FHA Guidance, FHA Training Tags: assistance animals, Emotional Support Animals, FHA Defense, HUD guidance, service animals
On April 14 at 2:00 p.m. CST I’ll be presenting a one hour webinar on HUD’s January 2020 guidance on reasonable accommodations for animals. I’ll cover what HUD got right and wrong in this guidance and explain what housing providers need to know about the reasonable accommodation process in light of the guidance. Written materials include modified decision tree for accommodation requests.
The course is sponsored by the University of Texas School of Law and is approved for CLE credit. If you are interested in registering, this link will take you to the registration page:
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, FHA, FHA design/build litigation, Statute of Limitations Tags: ADA defense, Fair Housing Justice Center, FHA Defense, FHA statute of limitations, Havens Realty Corp. Design/build litigation, JDS Development, tester standing
I wrote back in 2014 about the problem of endless FHA liability for design/build defects* and have covered other statute of limitations cases as well** but a recent decision from the Southern District of New York is worth noting for both its summary of existing law and the fundamental error it embraces.
In Fair Hous. J. Ctr., Inc. v. JDS Dev. LLC, 2020 WL 1126556 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2020) the plaintiff, an advocacy group, dispatched testers to several of the defendant’s developments where they discovered various failures to meet the design/build requirements in 42 U.S.C. §3604(f)(3)(C). The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit on the grounds that the statute of limitations on design/build claims had run. The court disagreed. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, FHA, FHA definition of handicap, FHA Emotional Support Animals, FHA Guidance, FHA Regulation Tags: assistance animals, Emotional Support Animals, FHA, FHA Defense, Guidance on Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act Relating to Assistance Animals, HUD, Internet fraud
On January 28, 2020 HUD issued its “Guidance on Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act Relating to Assistance Animals.”† Over the course of 19 poorly written and poorly organized pages HUD provides one crumb of help for housing providers faced with bogus requests for emotional support animals. The bulk of the “Guidance” is a confused repetition of various earlier HUD positions that defy common sense and the law.
For landlords the most important part of this Guidance is HUD’s acknowledgement that letters purchased on the internet are not reliable evidence of a disability or a disability related need for an emotional support animal. We’ve known this for years, but it’s nice that the bureaucrats have finally recognized it as well. However, this means almost nothing as I’ll discuss below. More