The ADA and FHA decisions handed down in the last few weeks share a common theme: technicalities matter. Sometimes the lack of technical standards increases the time and money spent in litigation, as in the first entry below, but more often technical matters of procedure and expert testimony determine the outcome of a case. The ancient Greek dramatist Aeschylus famously said “wrong must not win by technicalities,” but it is easier to sort out right and wrong when you get to write the play and decide who says and does what. When people don’t agree they go to court, and a commitment to the rule of law is a commitment to deciding disputes based on technicalities instead of fluctuating political and individual notions of what is right and wrong. More
My next Quick Hits blog will discuss federal court decisions in the last month; this special is about only one thing – HUD’s very active enforcement activities concerning the Fair Housing Act, especially with respect to disability rights claims. Here are the press release headlines from September 1 to the present:
HUD AWARDS OVER $47 MILLION TO FIGHT HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
These grants go to local organizations that file FHA lawsuits, engage in FHA testing, and help process FHA Complaints. Most of the money is going to organizations that conduct testing campaigns in which they either expose discrimination or trap innocent landlords using calculated deception, according to how you view tester tactics. It may be a little of both since not all organizations are equally committed to fairness in fair housing. It is telling that litigation related activities will get three times as much money as education related activities. HUD seems to be more interested in punishing landlords than in helping them understand the law. This is an attitude left over from the decades in which most FHA complaints were based on obviously wrong conduct in the form or racism. Disability discrimination is far more difficult for landlords to understand because it is usually in found in failures to grant modifications or accommodations in situations where the morally correct choice is not necessarily the same as the legally correct response. HUD might take note that the education to enforcement ratio is backwards in an era where most claims arise out of ignorance rather than obviously evil conduct. If you are a landlord or HOA you need to be aware that more money means more testing, so you need to be careful in dealing with callers who claim to have a disability or fall into a protected category under the FHA. They really are out to get you. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - serial litigation, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Legislation, DOJ, FHA, FHA design/build litigation, FHA Emotional Support Animals, Uncategorized Tags: ADA defense, Emotional Support Animals, ESA fraud, FHA Defense, Pursuit of Respect
“Odd and Ends” is the title of a Bob Dylan concert compilation film that was recently released in digital format.³ My odds and ends are probably not as interesting, but I’ve been busy for the last month litigating claims under the FHA and ADA, so this blog is part one of a two part effort to catch up. I’m hoping to release a “greatest hits” blog in the near future.
Pursuit of Respect keeps sending demands
I’ve gotten a dozen calls in the last few weeks from businesses in Pennsylvania, California and Florida who got demand letters from one attorney or another claiming to represent Pursuit of Respect. When I last checked none of those lawyers had filed a lawsuit, which I believe is because their client is fictitious and they’d rather not expose themselves to any kind of judicial inquiry. They will, however, keep harassing businesses that don’t respond with calls and additional letters. If anyone reading this knows of a lawsuit filed on behalf of POR I would be very interested in hearing about.¹ More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - Hotels, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Internet, ADA Policies, ADA Public Accommodation, FHA, FHA Emotional Support Animals, FHA Regulation, Internet Accessibility, Public Facilities Tags: ADA defense, Deborah Laufer, FHA Defense, HOA, hotel websites, supplemental jurisdiction, website accessibility
Once again – as in past Memorial Day editions – I’m firing up the grill with hundred dollar bills in honor of the money wasted on lawyers, who are the only ones who really benefit from most ADA and FHA litigation. There are, however, some cases dealing addressing important substantive issues, and few in which Courts seem ready to turn the ADA and FHA into laws to help people instead of laws to make lawyers rich. More
Tester standing under the ADA – Getting it wrong, getting it right, and an interesting but irrelevant analysis.
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - Hotels, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Internet Web, FHA, Hotels Tags: ADA defense, ADA standing, ADA Title II, ADA Title III, Duncan, FHA Defense, FHA standing, Laufer, Laufer v Mann, Newsome, Sierra
Three cases in the last thirty days look at ADA standing and reach different conclusions about what the Constitution and the ADA require. For victims of serial litigation and for courts interested in the coherent application of the text of the ADA and similar statutes these are crucial cases.² More