On July 23 the Depart of Justice published a notice of proposed rulemaking on accessibility in movie theaters for those with vision and hearing disabilities. (http://www.ada.gov/regs2014/movie_nprm.html). The public comment period begins today. The proposed rules will require most movie theaters to buy equipment so that customers with hearing disabilities and vision disabilities can participate in the movie watching experience. There are numerous limits and caveats, but what I find most interesting is the analysis of costs and benefits, in which the DOJ admits that it has little or no data to support a claim that the benefits are worth the costs. Consider some of the DOJ’s admissions about its own ignorance: More
This is a short follow-up to my May 14 blog “know when to fold ‘em.” A couple of weeks after I published that piece a decision came out from the Northern District of Georgia that dramatically illustrates the risk of a vigorous defense in a losing case.
Defense counsel interested in the legal principles that guide attorney’s fee awards in ADA cases will find it useful to read the full opinion in Gaylor v. Greenbriar of Dahlonega: Shopping Center, Inc., 2014 WL 2195719 (N.D. Ga., May 27, 2014) . However, the gist of the holding can be found in one short paragraph: More
A victory for common sense: 11th Circuit FHA ruling rejects subsequent owner liability in multi-family housing
In a decision issued on April 14, 2014 the 11th Circuit provided a major victory for subsequent owners of apartments and other types multi-family housing. In Harding v. Orlando Apts. LLC, 748 F.3d 1128 (11th Cir. 2014) the Court dismissed the notion that merely owning or operating an apartment complex could create liability for a failure of the apartments to meet the FHA design standards. Following the best reasoning of scattered earlier district court decisions the Court found that the clear language of the FHA imposed design and construction liability only on those involved in the original design and construction, and that the general anti-discrimination provisions of the FHA did not create an ongoing duty to bring a multi-family development into compliance with the design standards. (See my blog of November 21, 2013 for background on the pending district court cases). More
A pair of recent district court decisions provide some hope for defendants that federal courts are taking seriously the plaintiff’s obligation to plead an intelligible claim for relief. Unfortunately, the standard is still fairly low, and will only slightly limit cookie cutter lawsuits based on generic allegations. Nonetheless, ADA defendants will want to study the cases when confronted by a plaintiff whose settlement demands are so unreasonable that a substantive defense makes economic sense. More
Many modern building codes incorporate accessibility requirements that parallel or even exceed the requirements of the FHA and ADA. In fact, the regulations implementing the accessibility provisions of the Fair Housing Act identify as safe harbors the provisions of several versions of the International Building Code. It is hardly surprising then that property owners and contractors believe that getting a certificate of occupancy means the building complies with the FHA or ADA. Nonetheless, getting a C.O. is no guarantee of compliance with the law and no proof against litigation. The reasons are largely practical, but there is a legal dimension as well when it comes to placing the blame for a failure to comply. More