Just a brief note to let my readers know I will be joining the faculty of the SMU Dedman School of Law as an adjunct (i.e., part-time) professor teaching Disability Law beginning the fall of 2015. I would be very interested in your thoughts on the most important things young lawyers need to know about this field of law. Just email me at the address on the right.
ADA FHA General
There was a flurry of comment recently among the community of disability lawyers when a legal blogger posted a story about a pig allowed on an airplane with disastrous results. The story was interesting, but what caught the attention of those who practice in the field of disability law was his error in the law that applied. He said it was a story about ADA service animals, when in fact, as experts know, the issue was one under the Air Carrier Access Act.
I can’t blame him, or anyone else, for being confused. Even putting aside the dozens of state disability rights laws and the hundreds or thousands of municipal ordinances there are still a confusing array of federal laws and standards that might apply to any given business, and the rules about animals are particularly likely to cause confusion. Here is the briefest of explanations about where you and your business stand. 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, ADA FHA Legislation, Convention Centers, Stadiums Tags: ada litigation, ada violation, convention centers, private lawsuits, private litigants
When public or quasi-public entities contract with private businesses to use their facilities it can be difficult to pin down just who may have violated the ADA. It doesn’t have to be, but allocating ADA responsibility requires that the parties at least think about it. When they don’t the resulting litigation is likely to be complex and lengthy.
In Disabled Rights Action Comm. v. Las Vegas Events, Inc., 375 F.3d 861 (9th Cir. 2004) the Ninth Circuit established that a private entity could not avoid ADA liability by renting a publicly owned facility. It found, in essence, that the facility became a public accommodation when it was being used by the private entity, and the private entity could be the operator of that public accommodation. The now decade old message for businesses was clear: Your ADA liability will depend on your contract with the facility, and in particular on whether you control some aspect of accessibility. 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