The Rolling Stones famously asked that they be rolled like a pair of tumbling dice, and looking at recent Title III ADA headlines reminded me of just what a crapshoot ADA litigation can be. The good news for businesses is that the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles have filed suit against the Potter Handy firm and its partners alleging that the firm filed false lawsuits under the ADA.¹ Hard on the heels of the action by the local authorities a federal judge in San Francisco, Vince Chhabria, entered a series of show cause orders requiring the Potter Handy firm and its clients to file sworn declarations providing factual support for their allegations concerning having visited and intending to visit ADA defendants in the future.² I don’t know how Potter Handy and its clients will respond to these orders, or what Judge Chhabria will do with those responses, but within days of these actions a federal judge in San Jose entered an all too typical order allowing a case to proceed despite being more or less identical to those being handled by Judge Chhabria. Sevens or snake eyes, in ADA Title III matters defendants and plaintiffs are at the mercy of the random assignment of judges done with each federal lawsuit filed. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - Hotels, ADA - Standing, FHA, FHA definition of handicap, FHA Emotional Support Animals, HOA, Uncategorized Tags: ADA defense, Emotional Support Animal, FHA Defense, serial litigation
Pictures of bombed out buildings and civilian casualty counts are a reminder that aggravating and expensive as ADA and FHA lawsuits can be, taking these disputes to court is a luxury most people in the world do not enjoy. For those of us who can engage in a civilized discussion of legal issues, here are the latest cases and other news. You’ll see where I think the courts and administration have gone wrong, but I’d rather be here than most of places in the news these days.
HUD and DOJ pushing hard on ESA cases.
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, FHA, Uncategorized Tags: ADA defense, ADA intent to return, ADA Mootness, ADA standing, ADA website nexus, FHA Defense, unruh act, website accessibility
The last six weeks have seen some important or at least interesting decisions under the Fair Housing Act and Title III of the ADA. If there is any common thread, it is that courts in general seem increasingly reluctant to give serial plaintiffs the benefit of the doubt on dubious pleadings while some judges continue to treat private enforcement as a legitimate means to advance the policy goals of these statutes. This is part 1 of a 2 part blog, so stay tuned . . . More
By Richard Hunt in ADA, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA Internet, ADA Mootness, FHA, Uncategorized Tags: ADA defense, ADA standing, ADA statute of limitations, ADA website, FHA Defense, serial litigation
It turns out that the story about Benjamin Franklin wanting the wild turkey to be the U.S. National Bird is a myth, I’m not willing to get into the politics of the annual pardoning of turkeys by the President, and I don’t have Wild Turkey in my liquor cabinet so here instead are the latest ADA and FHA decisions.
Another critical case on injury and standing, this time in the context of limitations.
In Karantsalis v. City of Miami Springs, Fla.,2021 WL 5279406 (11th Cir. Nov. 12, 2021) the Eleventh Circuit made a critical distinction between having a disability and being injured because of that disability that has implications beyond the immediate limitations issue. The question was when the plaintiff’s ADA claim against the City accrued. If it accrued when he first learned that he had multiple sclerosis in 2008 then his claims were barred by limitations. If it accrued when his symptoms progressed to the point that he could no longer use City facilities in 2019 then his lawsuit was timely. The Court found that despite having a disability the plaintiff had not been injured until his disability interfered with use of City services:
Karantsalis argues on the other hand that the district court incorrectly determined that his claims accrued in 2008. Instead, he contends that his claims did not accrue until he had suffered both (1) a disability, and (2) an injury (his inability to readily access and use the City’s services by reason of his disability). Under the ADA, Karantsalis was not injured (and therefore did not have standing) until after he was denied the benefits of the City’s public services.
As a statute of limitations case this decision is important for any municipality faced with ADA litigation over services like sidewalks that are in place for decades. It is equally important as part of the trend of recognizing that standing to sue requires a real, rather than a hypothetical injury. More
I received a call earlier today from one of the lawyers who sent demand letters on behalf of Pursuit of Respect.¹ It was a follow up to an email from August 2021, which was in turn a follow up to my response to a demand letter sent in June 2021. You can see they are not operating on a very tight schedule. In any case it prompted me to see how things were going with Pursuit of Respect since I have heard nothing of them since September¹. A quick look at Pacer.gov indicated that Pursuit of Respect has still never filed an ADA lawsuit. Jerome Ramsaran, the attorney who incorporated PoR has not filed an ADA lawsuit since 2019. The website of Pursuit of Respect, which claims to advocate for accessible websites, is not WCAG 2.1 AA compliant.
I did find it interesting that the same individuals who created Pursuit of Respect incorporated another non-profit, Advocacy for Equality, Inc., in December of 2020. I have not heard that demand letters are being sent in its name, but it would not surprise me if it is being used for that purpose. Please let me know if you have received a demand from either Pursuit of Respect or Advocacy of Equality in the last few months so I can share information.
¹ See “ADA Odds and Ends”
See my blog “Same old wine” for more information on this group.