I’m not Maimonides, but I do think we need a Guide for the Perplexed concerning ADA website litigation because it seems that in many cases both courts and litigants have mistakenly treated websites as if they were buildings. Websites are not buildings, and recognition of that fact would do a great deal to eliminate or slow down abusive website lawsuits. If you are a defendant in such a suit or think you might be, this blog is for you and your lawyers. There is no silver bullet, but there are approaches to defense with real promise. More
ADA – serial litigation
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - serial litigation, ADA Class Actions, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Litigation Procedure, ADA Point of Sale, ADA regulations, ADA rulemaking, ADA Web Access, ADA Website Accessibility Tags: ADA defense, Arbitration, Browsewrap, Clickwrap, Container Store, FHA Defense, Point of Sale, website accessibility
In the last two years the federal courts have had a number of opportunities to find that Title III claims under the ADA are not arbitrable and have declined the invitation. That doesn’t mean these cases are in fact going to arbitration. In every case I found the arbitration agreement was found to be unenforceable on state law grounds, leaving open the possibility of a public policy argument. Nonetheless, I think that a properly written and implemented arbitration clause can force a Title III case into arbitration and give defendants a chance to avoid much of the unnecessary cost of litigation. Here’s why.
The starting point in a discussion of arbitration for civil rights statutes has to be Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 111 S.Ct. 1647 (1991). In Gilmer the Supreme Court found that claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act could be made subject to a valid arbitration agreement, rejecting claims that it was somehow inconsistent with public policy. A few months later Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, in which, among other things, it affirmed that More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, ADA Internet Web, ADA Litigation Procedure, ADA Mootness, ADA Policies, ADA Web Access, ADA Website Accessibility, FHA Reasonable Accommodation, Hospitals, Internet Accessibility, Statute of Limitations Tags: ADA defense, ADA Policies, ADA standing, FHA Defense, HOA litigation, Johnson v Starbucks, Midwest Disability Initiative, Pacific Trial Group, Scott Ferrell, Strojnik, unruh act, website accessibility
The official worst heat-wave ever is now over in both the U.S. and France, but Sirius is still rising just before dawn and nothing has cooled off in the courts. Here are the latest cases on ADA and FHA issues.
HOAs and the FHA
Lau et al v. Honolulu Park Place, AOAO, 2019 WL 3208644 (D. Haw. July 16, 2019) is a kind of short treatise on how the FHA applies to accommodation claims made by parents or others associated with a disabled person. What is surprising is the degree of ignorance or obtuseness shown by the HOA’s counsel in defending the case. Here’s what the Court says:
“Defendants appear to misunderstand the FHA as well as the injury-in-fact requirements of Article III. . . . Only the most obtuse reading of the Complaint could fail to construe the allegations as an injury to the person. . . . But Defendants’ conclusion is only possible when accepting their misrepresented version of what Plaintiffs seek. In other words, it is a straw man of their own creation.
HOAs should remember that the firm handling their assessment collections or dealing with personal injury suits may not have the specialized knowledge necessary for FHA defense. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - Hotels, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Mootness, ADA Negligence, ADA Policies, ADA Website Accessibility Tags: ADA defense, drive-by lawsuits, FHA Defense, Scott Johnson, serial litigation, Starbucks, Usablenet
All but two of today’s cases are from serial filers, and 7 of 17 are from a single serial filer, Scott Johnson. The fact that serial filers dominate the world of ADA litigation is hardly news; in fact, it would news if an ordinary disabled individual who suffered a real ADA injury filed suit. It is also news that federal judges in the mid-west are showing an increased reluctance to keep cases alive based on dubious standing claims. As Bradley Cooper sings in the latest version of A Star if Born, “Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.” More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Web Access, ADA Website Accessibility Tags: Accessible websites, ADA defense, ADA Supreme Court, ADA website defense, Dominos v Robles
Domino’s Pizza has filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court challenging the Ninth Circuit’s recent ruling in favor of Guillermo Robles.* The Court’s decision on whether to grant certiorari will have a profound impact on the possible “tsunami”** of website accessibility lawsuits, but we don’t have to wait for that decision to find the Petition itself interesting.
What I find most intriguing is Domino’s argument that the Ninth Circuit has adopted a new, third standard for application of the ADA to the internet. Along with other commentators I have always seen a two way split in the Circuits. Some (the First, Second and Seventh) simply hold that all websites are public accommodations subject to the ADA. It is a simple approach that leaves no room for doubt about a website’s accessibility obligation. Others (the Third, Sixth, Eleventh and Ninth Circuits) find that a website is covered by the ADA only if it has some nexus to a physical place of business. The exact nature of that nexus is a question being slowly answered as different situations are presented to the courts, but details aside, the nexus requirement seemed a common thread in decisions from these Circuits. More