Just Keep Driving: Minnesota Courts Continue to Block ADA Title III “Drive-By” Suits

In early 2018, Minnesota federal courts issued two decisions dismissing so-called “drive-by” disability access lawsuits under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That trend has continued in 2019. In fact, in just the past two months, courts in Minnesota have dismissed, in whole or in part, no fewer than six Title III cases, again reminding business owners that liability is far from automatic in these lawsuits.

 

Due Process and Primary Jurisdiction Defenses to Website Accessibility Claims Fall Like Dominoes in the Ninth Circuit

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its highly-anticipated website accessibility opinion in Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, reaffirming the obligation to make retailers’ websites accessible and rejecting the due process and primary jurisdiction arguments commonly asserted by defendants in website accessibility litigation.

Eleventh Circuit Doesn’t Give a Hoot About Prior Settlement Agreements

On June 19, 2018, in Haynes v. Hooters of America, LLC, 2018 WL 3030840 (11th Cir. 2018), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals eliminated a useful defense strategy in the website accessibility arena when it held that a business’s agreement to remediate its website in a prior, private settlement did not render moot subsequent actions seeking the same relief.

Title III Notice and Cure Bill Passes Initial Legislative Hurdle

The House of Representatives passed a bill on February 15, 2018, that requires Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III plaintiffs to provide businesses with notice and an opportunity to cure any barriers before filing suit. The Senate must also pass a version of the bill before it can be sent to the White House for signing. Senate passage is reported as uncertain.

Proposed Pepsi Center Consent Decree Requires Open Captioning at Games and Concerts

In a proposed consent decree submitted for preliminary approval to the federal district court in Denver on December 29, 2017, the owners and operators of the Pepsi Center arena in Denver reached an agreement with a proposed class of deaf and hard of hearing plaintiffs to provide open captioning of all aural (spoken or heard) content at games played and concerts held at the arena.

DOJ Officially Pulls the Plug on Regulations Already on Life Support

In a move that surprises no one, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced today, December 26, 2017, that it has officially withdrawn its two Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) related to website accessibility: one under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applicable to state and local governments and one under Title III applicable to private businesses open to the public.

Serial Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Commences Latest Round of Hotel Litigation: How Can Hotels Protect Themselves?

Just as one flood of lawsuits against Arizona businesses finally dries up, another downpour begins. Peter Strojnik of Phoenix, the same attorney who filed more than 1,100 lawsuits that drew the attention of the Arizona attorney general, has filed approximately 60 new lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against motels and places of lodging in the last three months in federal court in Arizona.

Arizona Amends State Disabilities Act to Protect Businesses From Drive-by Lawsuits

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey just signed into law an amendment to the Arizonans with Disabilities Act (AzDA) designed to make it more difficult to bring lawsuits against businesses based on claims that they are not accessible to individuals with disabilities. The amendment requires potential plaintiffs to give business owners notice of alleged access violations and allows businesses 30-90 days to correct the issues before a lawsuit can be filed.

Can Fido Come to Work? EEOC Files Suit to Require Emotional Support Dog on Truck Route

It’s true. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is taking the position that an emotional support animal may be a required reasonable accommodation in the workplace.  In January, we explained that federal (and most states’) public accommodation laws do not require businesses and organizations to accommodate disabled individuals with regard to their requested use of emotional support dogs or other animals. Some state laws and city ordinances even make it a crime to try to pass off an emotional support dog or pet as a legally-protected, disability-related service animal.

Arizona Judge Finds Standing Is a Must for Serial ADA Plaintiff, Dismisses More Than 1,100 Cases

An Arizona judge dismissed more than 1,100 lawsuits against Arizona businesses alleging that their parking lots are not accessible to persons with disabilities. Judge David M. Talamante rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the Arizonans with Disabilities Act (AzDA) permits any person who believes a place of public accommodation has violated the act to bring a civil action.

Website Accessibility Epidemic Reaches Arizona

It was only a matter of time until the flood of litigation over the accessibility of websites to persons with disabilities reached Arizona. Recently it did when an Arizona man and his attorney filed lawsuits against four Arizona businesses alleging that their websites are not accessible to blind and visually impaired consumers in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Arizonans with Disabilities Act (AzDA). All of the lawsuits were filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona by Joseph Charles on behalf of James Close, who claims to be a resident of Texas and legally blind.

WCAG 2.0 AA Gains Prominence as Website Accessibility Standard

The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) finalized a regulation this week that will make the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) Level AA the design standard when interpreting and implementing Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires federal agencies and contractors to make their websites accessible to disabled individuals. Affected federal agencies and contractors will have one year from the publication of the final rule to comply with the revised 508 standards, which would place the compliance deadline sometime in early 2018.

Fido Can’t Help Ring in the New Year (Unless He’s a True Service Animal)

Individuals wishing to begin the new year by taking a beloved pet or emotional support animal out to a restaurant may run into new legal deterrents in some states. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) entitles people with disabilities to bring “service animals” into public places such as restaurants and stores, many individuals do not realize which animals the law covers.

DOJ Projects Rulemaking on State and Local Government Websites in July 2017

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that it is expediting its timetable and expects to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding accessibility of state and local government websites in July of 2017. The comment period for this NPRM would close in September of 2017. The DOJ’s announcement in the Unified Agenda also indicated that it continues to expect the regulations under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act to pave the way for the Title III regulations applicable to private businesses’ websites.

Must Your Stadium, Theater, or Museum Offer Complimentary Admission to Personal Care Providers?

Are public accommodations required to admit personal care providers for free? That’s the question that the lawyers in our Disability Access Practice Group have been hearing with increasing frequency since the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a decision in May of 2016 holding that The Franklin Institute, a nonprofit museum, was required to offer complimentary admission to the personal care attendant of a severely disabled individual. Below we provide a brief overview of the case and its currently narrow reach, an even shorter critique of the decision, and finally a summary of what your public accommodation may want to consider in the wake of the decision.