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 - Hotels, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Internet Web Tags: ADA defense, Article III standing, FHA Defense, Laufer, Laufer v Looper, Laufer v Mann
Can the 11th Circuit hold back the tide as King Cnut famously failed to do?² In Laufer v. Arpan LLC, 2022 WL 906511 (11th Cir. Mar. 29, 2022) the 11th Circuit disagreed with the Fifth, Tenth and Second Circuits concerning the injury sufficient to satisfy the standing requirements in Article III of the Constitution. If the case goes to the Supreme Court the 11th Circuit is likely to get its feet wet on Article III standing, but of more interest is the Court’s failure to consider whether the plaintiff had even suffered a statutory injury; that is, did she suffer the kind of injury Title III of the ADA was intended to prevent? If there was no statutory injury then the question of constitutional injury never arises. More
On March 18 the Department of Justice published its Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA. Anything that helps businesses understand their ADA obligations is helpful, but the fact that this Guidance was posted on the beta site of ADA.gov tells you that even DOJ has low expectations. Those low expectations are justified because the Guidance doesn’t define website accessibility and therefore does nothing to help businesses have certainty about their compliance with the law. 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