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 ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, Apartments, Condominiums, FHA, Multi-Family, Residential Development Tags: Apartments, Condominiums, developers, FHA Litigation, mental health disabilities, real-estate, service animals, support animals
Support animals for individuals with mental health disabilities present special problems for the owners and managers of residential properties. A complaint filed on New Year’s Eve, Intermountain Fair Housing Council, Inc. v. Michael’s Manor, LLC, illustrates some of those problems and shows why requests for an accomodation to allow a support animal must be handled with care.
The first issue faced by owners and managers is whether an untrained support animal has to be allowed at all. In Michael’s Manor the plaintiff alleges that the leasing agent flatly refused to permit a support animal for the treatment of a mental disability A decade ago that refusal might have worked, for a number of courts held that an apartment or condominium complex was only required to permit trained service animals based on the ADA definition of “service animal.” The FHA does not mention service or support animals in its provisions concerning reasonable accommodations and most recent decisions agree that refusal to allow a mental health support animal can constitute illegal discrimination. Requiring proof that the tenant’s animal qualifies as a “service animal” for a physical disability almost certainly violates the FHA. 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