A client of mine was recently advised that the client’s FHA forms for reasonable accommodation requests were illegal because “The law specifically prohibits inquiry into the nature or extent of a disability.” This is a common misconception, and one that can easily result in an apartment complex full of supposed therapy animals owned by individuals who are not disabled. It is worth understanding where this misconception came from and what the law really allows. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Litigation Procedure, ADA Mootness, ADA Point of Sale, ADA Vending Machines, ADA Web Access, FHA, FHA Reasonable Accommodation, Internet, Internet Accessibility Tags: ADA defense, ADA Mootness, ADA standing, FHA Defense, Readily Achievable, WCAG 2.0, website accessibility
We aren’t quite to Halloween, but the candy is certainly crowding the shelves of local stores, whose owners might want to take a look at Ryan v. Kohls, Inc., discussed below. Beyond that we have the usual roundup of default judgment cases, website accessibility standing cases, and of course some ordinary “drive-by” cases involving physical accessibility mixed in with cases that deserve special attention because they could have a broad impact on ADA and FHA litigation. Here they are. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, Design Build Discrimination, FHA, FHA design/build litigation, FHA Regulation, Multi-Family Tags: design/build litigation, Fair Housing Act defense, FHA Design Manual, FHA safe harbors, Miami Valley, Mid-America, Section 3604(f)(3)(C)
The decision in Miami Valley Fair Hous. Ctr., Inc. v. Preferred Living Real Est. Investments, LLC, 2018 WL 4690790 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 28, 2018) has the potential to create a significant change in how FHA design/build cases are litigated. It also provides litigants with a treatise on the most important evidentiary issues faced by both plaintiffs and defendants. The critical take-away for apartment owners and developers is that proof of deviations from the various FHA safe harbors is not conclusive evidence of an FHA violation. That means defendants who own or build apartments that are accessible but have technical deviations from FHA design/build safe harbors will be given the chance to talk about what matters to the disabled, that is, accessibility. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Policies Tags: ADA regulations, ADA website, Department of Justice ADA Regulations, DOJ letter to Congress, Ted Budd
On September 25 the Department of Justice responded to a congressional plea for regulatory guidance with a firm “no.” In its letter to Congressman Ted Budd DOJ made it clear that it had no intention of restarting the regulatory process it abandoned last year and that it did not believe regulations were necessary or desirable. It did say that in the absence of regulation the failure to meet an industry standard like WCAG 2.0 AA is not necessarily proof of an ADA violation. This allows businesses to prove (if they can) that despite not meeting that or some other standard their business websites are accessible.
Yesterday the Department of Justice rolled out a new online technical assistance webpage that cleans up a lot of the organizational problems I’ve blogged about in the past.* You can find it here. It isn’t perfect. You might wonder why, for example, we still have both a “Primer for Small Business” and a “Guide for Small Businesses” as well as two different documents concerning service animals. DOJ’s habit of publishing one topic guidances can be helpful, but the failure to consistently integrate them into more comprehensive documents makes it hard for businesses to have a single consistent place to go when they need information. We really need a well organized on-line encyclopedia of ADA guidance in plain language so that a business looking for a particular answer doesn’t have to guess which of the many available on-line documents will have it. It is also notable that DOJ still has materials written before the publication of the 2010 Standards as well as materials concerning communication that are more than 15 years old and therefore very likely to be out of date in light of technological developments.
Still, the re-organization is a welcome change and should be of some benefit to businesses interesting in maintaining ADA compliance without necessarily calling a lawyer.