April is the cruellest month according to T.S. Eliot†, but it was really just busy for my practice and the courts. Here’s part one of our update on important decisions in the ADA and FHA world. We expect to be caught up after a long weekend of blogging and a couple of additional installments. More
ADA Litigation Procedure
A pair of recent cases, both brought by the same law firm on behalf of different plaintiffs, underscore the importance for every business of having policies and procedures for both ADA compliance and maintenance. This is especially important for businesses with multiple stores because a policy and procedure class action will elevate a single bad parking space to a nationwide class action, making both remediation and settlement or remediation very expensive.* 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 Both were slightly out of date and their withdrawal did not make any substantive change in the requirements for businesses. Today we look at withdrawn guidances concerning accessible facilities and reach the same conclusion. Tomorrow we’ll look at the last of the ADA materials withdrawn, a guidance from the closing days of the Obama administration whose withdrawal may indeed have real consequences for state and local government.
The withdrawn guidances that include accessible facilities are: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).
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Litigation Procedure, ADA Mootness
Access Now, Inc. v. Otter Products, LLC, 2017 WL 6003051 (D. Mass. Dec. 4, 2017) points out one of the many problems created by the thoughtless application of the ADA to websites – the potential for forum shopping. Massachusetts is one of the most favorable venues for ADA website cases because its federal courts have held that all websites are subject to the ADA regardless of their connection to a physical place of business. In Otter Products the plaintiff lived in Massachusetts and had no difficulty persuading the Court that it could exercise jurisdiction over the defendant based on product sales over the internet to Massachusetts residents. The possibility of being sued in almost any state comes with doing business nationwide. The problem with ADA lawsuits is that while we have a single federal law there is no single federal standard for determining which websites must be accessible or what accessibility means. This means plaintiff’s law firms will be choosing where to file suit based on an agenda that may bear little or no relationship either to real accessibility or what Congress intended. Businesses with nationwide sales may as well accept that every website must be accessible (because that is what the most liberal courts have held) and that website accessibility will mean whatever they lack (because that is the allegation needed to get past a motion to dismiss). More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Litigation Procedure, ADA Mootness Tags: Burningham v TVI, Gomez v Empower U, HB 1463, HB 3765, HB727
A number of states have passed laws intended to stop abusive ADA lawsuits, including most recently Florida and Texas.* As we’ve reported several times recently some individual federal judges are taking their own steps to stem serial litigation without diminishing the rights of the disabled. All these efforts attack the problem at the wrong end. Serial ADA lawsuits are a just a symptom of a deeper problem – a lack of ADA education and regulatory enforcement. More