In Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center v. Hospitality Properties Trust, 2017 WL 3401319 (9th Circuit, August 9, 2017) the Ninth Circuit decided once again to make abusive serial ADA litigation as easy as possible, ignoring both the constitutional limits on standing and the way cheap standing† has created a crisis in ADA litigation that Congress is only now beginning to fix.* The plaintiffs in Hospitality Properties Trust never visited the hotels they sued, relying instead on telephone calls in which they were supposedly told the defendant hotels lacked accessible free shuttle services. Beyond alleging the existence of these calls they included boilerplate allegations that they would have stayed at the hotel if there had been shuttle service and that they would visit in the future but were deterred by the ADA violation. This, they claimed, created an injury sufficient for Article III standing. More
ADA FHA Litigation General
On May 17 a jury in the District of Montana found that a landlord violated the Fair Housing Act by requiring a pet deposit from a disabled tenant and awarded damages of almost $40,000. (U.S. v. Katz et al, Case No. 14-68). Why is this good news for landlords? Because there was a jury trial, meaning the landlord had a chance to win.
HUD and the DOJ have long taken the position that any requirement of a pet deposit for a service dog or assistance animal* violates the reasonable accommodation provisions of the FHA. (Notice dated April 23, 2013, FHEO-2013-01). The position is illogical on its face because HUD and DOJ recognize that a disabled tenant remains responsible for any damage caused by a service or assistance animal. If the tenant remains responsible for the damage, why not require a damage deposit? HUD does not require that landlords waive a rent or general damage deposit for disabled tenants, and a pet deposit is no different. Nonetheless, HUD has spoken and requests for accommodation in the form of pet deposit waivers have skyrocketed since 2013. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA Litigation General, FHA, FHA Emotional Support Animals Tags: CityVision, dialing for dollars, Fair Housing Advocates, Gary Lacefield, Gratus Partners, Patrick Coleman
CityVision Services, a Texas based company in the business of filing HUD complaints, recently chose to withdraw a complaint rather than face investigation of its operations by HUD’s Region VII office. The details remain confidential (they involve one of our clients) but the broad picture of how this happened can help other victims of CityVision complaints deal with them.
In this particular case CityVision filed two complaints; one on behalf of an individual claiming disability discrimination and one on its own behalf. Like all the complaints CityVision files on its own behalf it contained a short and completely misleading statement of its history and operations. It claimed, for example, to have been established 23 years ago to file complaints on behalf of victims of discrimination, when in fact the present incarnation of CityVision was created in 2015 in order to file complaints on its own behalf. More
Meet Iqbal and Twombly.* Pleading an ADA case sometimes seems trivially easy. Allege a disability, allege an encouter with an architectural barrier, claim intent to return or deterrence and any plaintiff should be able to at least avoid dismissal. It appears, however, that some courts are taking a harder look at the kind of vague allegations found in the pleadings of many serial plaintiffs. This gives defendants new opportunities for early dismissal.** More
By Richard Hunt in ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA FHA Litigation General, Restaurants, Retail, Shopping Centers Tags: "drive-by", ADA drive-by litigation, DIY, DIY ADA Survey, Do It Yourself
Today’s Google news brought another batch of outraged articles about serial ADA plaintiffs and legislators looking for solutions to the ADA litigation epidemic. The serial filer was in the Wichita, Kansas area, and the legislators were in Colorado, but otherwise the stories were pretty much the same as the stories last week, and the week before, and the week before that. Business owners say they were surprised to find that they were not ADA compliant, and lawmakers say the law should require a pre-suit demand so businesses have a chance to fix their problems before they get sued. The plaintiff, or his lawyer, always points out that the ADA has been in effect for 25 years, so it shouldn’t really be news. More