Here’s a very unhappy looking King Richard III contemplating the murder of his nephews and possible rivals for the throne, or perhaps the latest headlines. While the latest cases on accessibility law don’t usually look like light reading, right now they are a cheery diversion from the rest of world events. Here we go:
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - Hotels, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Class Actions, ADA Internet Web, ADA Mootness, ADA Policies, ADA Web Access, FHA, FHA design/build litigation Tags: ADA consent decree, ADA defense, ADA Testers, ADA Website Litigation, Beshay Foods, Braille gift cards, Coca Cola Freestyle, COVID-19, FHA Defense, First Fix then Fight, Jack-in-the-box, Johnson v Starbucks, Legal Justice Advocates, Portell Law Group, Seyfarth Shaw
Like most of you I’ve been working from home for the last couple of months, meaning primarily that my dogs are getting a lot of exercise. There has been no sign of any slowdown in the ADA and FHA litigation business, so there is plenty to cover in this Quick Hits edition.
Owners liability for leased premises – you can’t rely on your tenant.
By Richard Hunt in ADA, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - Hotels, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Internet Web, ADA Mootness, FHA, Uncategorized Tags: ADA defense, FHA Defense, Gonzalez v Chinatown Hotel, Hillesheim, Scott Johnson
The Rite of Spring in the world of ADA and FHA litigation is a lot more like Stravinsky’s ballet – which terminates in the death of the lead character – than the bunnies and ducks that we usually associate with April. But whatever your spring festival, here’s the latest in the case law.
Corona Virus and Title III of the ADA
A great deal of attention has been paid to whether the disease Covid-19 constitutes a disability under the FHA and ADA. Crochet v. California College of the Arts, et al..,2020 WL 1815741 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 9, 2020) looks at a different aspect of the pandemic – whether injunctive relief matters when a physical place of business is only operating remotely. The plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction under the FHA to stop what she considered excessive rent charges. The court refused on the simple principle that money damages was an adequate remedy. This section of the opinion is worth reading because of its discussion of the principle that ordinary equitable limits on injunctive relief do not apply to the FHA. The plaintiff also wanted an injunction requiring the defendant to offer her the same level of shuttle bus service as other students. This the court refused because with the current California shut-in order there were no shuttle busses running and they were unlikely to start running before the plaintiff graduated. This raises the interesting question of how courts should deal with Title III ADA cases filed against businesses that are now shut down or offering only delivery service. Most cases will settle, but those that move forward will require deeper thinking about standing and available relief when the future is so uncertain. 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 Mootness, ADA Web Access, Title II Tags: ADA arbitration, ADA defense, Browsewrap, Clickwrap, FHA Defense, FHA Municipal Zoning, Hamer v City of Trinidad, Stadium Lines of Sight, Strojnik, Uber Technologies
“Beware the Ides of March” was what the prophet warned Caesar according to Shakespeare. It didn’t go well for him, but the latest batch of ADA and FHA decisions are something of a mixed bag. Before getting to that news though I want to make sure everyone who wants one has a copy of my white paper on HUD’s new guidance on service and assistance animals. If you are interested just email me. You will be added as a subscriber to this blog and I’ll email a copy of the paper. But now on to the news.
Standing and intent to return – the Strojnik factor
It is elementary that an ADA plaintiff must establish some likelihood of a future injury in order to have standing. Strojnik v. 1530 Main LP, 2020 WL 981031 (N.D. Tex. Feb. 28, 2020) is one of a small number of Texas cases addressing this issue. Judge Brown’s analysis is worth reading because it looks at the 5th Circuit authorities and explains why the “deterrent effect” doctrine is not sufficient to give a plaintiff standing in the absence of any intent to return. The “deterrent effect” doctrine is, in fact, a mis-named and mis-used substitute for intent to return. A plaintiff who never intended to go back cannot have been deterred from going back by some condition at the defendants’ place of business. Sloppy language and slopping thinking in the Nnth Circuit are the origin and support of the ADA litigation industry. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - Hotels, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Class Actions, ADA Internet Web, ADA Mootness, ADA Web Access, FHA, Uncategorized Tags: ADA defense, ADA web access, driveby lawsuits, FHA Defense, Serial filers
Being slow but steady the tortoise, as we all know, won the race. The picture on the left tells you the strategy I ended up using. In any case the news is current as of November 14, the last day I checked for new ADA and FHA decisions. There’s plenty of interest, as usual.
A pre-emptive strike on website accessibility succeeds.
The plaintiff in Expensify, Inc. v. White, 2019 WL 5295064 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 18, 2019) sought to take matters into its own hands and local court by suing a pair of serial website filers for a declaratory judgment that its website was not in violations of the ADA. The defendants almost immediately agreed to waive their claims, presumably because they did not want to litigate without the home field advantage they command in the Western District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff was not content and tried to keep the case alive, but the Court found the waivers mooted its claims. The key finding is that there was a dispute justifying the complaint for declaratory relief. It is only a district court decision, but Defendants who receive a demand letter without a lawsuit should consider this kind of pre-emptive strike as a good way to avoid an unfriendly jurisdiction. More