Three recent cases from District Courts in California show just how hard it can be to predict what will happen in an ADA case, at least in the early stages. The facts are essentially identical, but the results are diametrically opposed. Is it because the judges have different views of the law? Is it because the lawyers in one case were not as good as the lawyers in the other? The cases leave plenty of room for speculation. What every business should know, however, is that there are no sure things in ADA litigation, and the regulations are more complicated than you might think*.
On March 5, 2015 the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion in one of the longest running ADA lawsuits around. Chapman v. Pier 1 Imports (U.S.) Inc., 2015 WL 925586 (9th Cir. Mar. 5, 2015). Like the Home Depot case I wrote about a few weeks ago the issue in Chapman v. Pier 1 concerned obstructions that blocked access and a policy that was supposed to prevent such obstructions. Unlike Home Depot, Chapman v. Pier 1 includes some clear guidelines for businesses that want to make sure they are “walking the walk.”
By Richard Hunt in ADA, ADA FHA Litigation General, ADA Policies, ADA regulations, Retail, Uncategorized Tags: ada litigation, ADA pleading, ADA standing, FHA ADA litigation "statute of limitations" strategy DOJ "attorney general" enforcement, private lawsuits, private litigants
This inspiring picture of a para-athlete should remind us all of what those with “disabilities” as defined by the law can achieve. It should also make the courts consider whether they have mis-construed the law concerning injury under the ADA. I’ve written many times before about the troubling tendency of some courts to ignore the actual injury requirement for lawsuits under the ADA. (See my posts on December 23, 2013, October 3, 2013, May, 2013 and especially Nov. 6, 2013). A recent decision from North Carolina shows how one court, at least, has adopted the common sense view that a plaintiff who has not been injured cannot maintain an action under the ADA. Blue v. Boddie-Noell Enterprises, Inc., 2015 WL 509831 (E.D.N.C. Feb. 6, 2015). More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, Policies and Procedures FHA ADA, Restaurants, Retail, Shopping Centers Tags: ada litigation, private lawsuits, real-estate, restaurants, retail
Two realities dominate the world of ADA compliance and defense. First, the ADA is a no-fault statute: good intentions don’t matter and innocence is no defense. Second, even when barrier removal is impossible, a business still has an obligation to try to become accessible. Two recent cases show how the failure to remember this can lead to failure in the defense of a lawsuit.
Snyder v. Lady Slings the Booze, LLC, 2014 WL 7366665 (W.D. Ky 2014) presented a fairly common problem. The step up to the defendant bar (whose name along makes the case worth citing) was higher than permitted by the ADA, but could not be ramped because a ramp would protrude into a city sidewalk. The defendant did the right thing at the beginning and tried to apply for a permit, but when the permit was denied apparently decided the case was over. Barrier removal was not readily achievable, and so, the defendant thought, it was off the hook for ADA compliance. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA General, Reasonable accommodation, Retail Tags: ada litigation, ada violation, private lawsuits, reasonable accommodation, restaurants, retail
I wrote last week about the difficulty in determining just what the ADA requires in cases concerning physical accessibility. A recent decision from California shows how hard it can be to know what the “reasonable accommodation” provisions of the ADA require. For businesses who want to comply with the ADA and want to avoid litigation this is bad news. I’d like to suggest though that a simple principle will help businesses do the right thing. Just have your employees ask themselves what would they would do if customer were their mother. More