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, ADA FHA Litigation General, Hospitality, Hotels, Retail, Shopping Centers Tags: ada litigation, ADA pleading, ADA standing, ada violation, mental health disabilities, private lawsuits, private litigants, real-estate, restaurants, retail
A couple of district court decisions from late February should both comfort and warn ADA defendants. Gutierrez v. Chung, 2013 WL 655141 (E.D. Cal. 2013) reminds us that settlement alone doesn’t resolve an ADA violation. The only permanent solution is remediation. National Alliance for Accessibility, Inc. v. Millbank Hotel Partners, 2013 WL 653955 (D. Md. 2013), on the other hand, shows how to attack the boilerplate pleadings found in almost all ADA lawsuits. 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, Retail, Shopping Centers Tags: ada litigation, ADA pleading, ada violation, FHA ADA litigation "statute of limitations" strategy DOJ "attorney general" enforcement, private lawsuits, private litigants
Defendants are frequently and justifiably annoyed by the usual style of pleading in ADA accessibility cases. It appears that a few courts, although a minority, have begun to apply ordinary federal pleading standards to these claims, which will make it much easier to obtain dismissal of those without real merit.
Many ADA plaintiffs are cagey, to say the least, about exactly what barriers they encountered, when they encountered them, and what effect the encounter had. A typical shopping center lawsuit, for example, may allege that there are cross slopes, improperly marked handicapped parking, and ramps that are too steep, but will not identify the location of the cross slopes, parking or ramps. The date or dates on which the plaintiff encountered these barriers will not be stated, and there will be only the most general allegation that the plaintiff was, as a result of these conditions, unable to have access to the center. 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