The obesity epidemic that attracts so much attention in terms of public health serves as an additional reason for businesses and property owners to pay attention to ADA and FHA accessibility issues. The statistics are well known and striking. In the last 40 years obesity (Body Mass Index >30) has increased from around 12% to more than 30% of the population. Extreme obesity (Body Mass Index > 40) has increased from around 1% to more than 6% of the population. (http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/index.htm) If current trends continue, extreme obesity will become as common as mobility disabilities, which affect around 7.5% of the population (http://www.pascenter.org) . More
By richardhunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, Hospitality, Hotels, Restaurants, Retail, Shopping Centers Tags: ada litigation, ada violation, private lawsuits, private litigants, restaurants, retail
A few careless words in an opinion can spawn dozens of lawsuits and may create precedents that cost property owners and operators tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees if not in remediation costs. The question of whether compliance with ADA Standards and Guidelines is sufficient to avoid an ADA claim illustrates just how this can happen. More
By richardhunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, Apartments, Condominiums, FHA, Hospitality, Hotels, Multi-Family, Residential Development, Restaurants, Retail, Shopping Centers Tags: ada litigation, ada violation, FHA Litigation, private lawsuits, private litigants, real-estate, restaurants, retail
2012 brought with it the final effective date for the 2010 Accessibility Standards and with that new possibilities for claims under the ADA and FHA. The most significant change in the standards from a litigation standpoint was the imposition of long pending requirements for ATM’s, which brought a wave of new cases around the nation. There were important trends for more traditional claims that will continue in 2013.
There will be an increased emphasis by plaintiffs on claims based on alleged policies regarding regarding FHA and ADA compliance as opposed to incidents of non-compliance. Once of the basic economic problems for ADA and FHA plaintiffs is that the barriers to access encountered by any individual plaintiff may be modest, and once such modest barriers are remediated the case may become moot. Unless there is a substantial controversy the fees awarded even by a generous court may be less than what is needed to justify the lawsuit in the first place. Alleging a policy of discrimination allows an individual plaintiff to assert claims based on barriers to access he or she does not know exist and may never encounter. The case law in this area is mixed at best, and plaintiffs can be expected to expand the availability of policy and practice claims in the accessibility context. More
I buy small gifts for the holidays at a handful of stores with inexpensive products and cluttered aisles. I’ve even been told by clients that clutter can be a marketing strategy because it coveys the idea of bargain prices. Unfortunately, it may also violate the ADA by making otherwise accessible aisles too narrow and otherwise accessible counters too crowded. That, at least, was the finding in the most recent chapter of the long running lawsuit between Byron Chapman and Pier 1 Imports. The case has been pending for more than eight years, and has already generated two opinions from the Ninth Circuit. The last of these seemed to be a complete victory for Pier 1, but on remand and with an amended complaint Chapman obtained a summary judgment and permanent injunction. The case is headed once again for the Ninth Circuit, but the facts and holding should be of interest to any retailer. More
In her song “Raised on Robbery” Jonie Mitchell describes a man “sitting in the bar of the Empire Hotel, drinking for diversion and thinking for himself” while he watches a hockey game that he’s bet on. I thought about that song when I ate lunch with a wheel chair bound at a local restaurant. We had no trouble being seated; there were plenty of accessible tables. What we couldn’t do was see the three large flat screen TVs behind the bar because the bar area only had raised tables and raised booths.
Does the inability to sit in the bar or see a TV amount to discrimination against those with disabilities? It depends on how you look at the business of the restaurant. If the restaurant is only selling food and drink then a person with a mobility disability gets the same thing everyone else does – food and drink. But if the restaurant is the experience of drinking and watching a hockey game the disabled person is out of luck. More