2021 has seen a dramatic increase in ADA hotel website lawsuits. These suits have cost the hospitality industry millions in legal fees. Depending on the judge and court, defense has yielded mixed results. However, DPA Attorneys at Law recently posted a big win. In the Northern District of California, DPA defended a hotel and the case was dismissed against ADA plaintiff firm, Potter Handy. The court found that there was a lack of standing to bring an ADA website lawsuit in the first place.
To have standing under Title III of the ADA, a plaintiff claiming discrimination must face a “real and immediate threat of repeated injury.” Ervine v. Desert View Reg’l Med. Ctr. Holdings, LLC, 753 F.3d 862, 867 (9th Cir. 2014). A plaintiff bears the burden of proving standing. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). A plaintiff can show likelihood of future injury by demonstrating an intent to return to a noncompliant accommodation or that he was deterred from visiting a noncompliant accommodation because he encountered barriers related to his disability there. Chapman v. Pier 1 Imports (U.S.) Inc., 631 F.3d 939, 948-50 (9th Cir. 2011).
Here, DPA argued that Plaintiff’s initial intent to patronize Defendant’s hotel and his intent to patronize the hotel in the future was not credible. This lack of credibility stemmed from Plaintiff filing 41 identical ADA lawsuits stating that he was going to travel and stay at each hotel in August 2021. The Court recognized that it was highly unlikely that Plaintiff would stay at each individual hotel in August 2021, as he would have had to stay at multiple hotels a day. Further, Defendant’s hotel was at least 50 miles away from where Plaintiff wanted to supposedly go “wine-tasting”. Finally, out of the 99 hotels that Plaintiff sued in 2021, he didn’t stay at one of those hotels. Thus, the Court found that Plaintiff failed to establish that he actually intended to stay at Defendant’s hotel.
This is a big win for the hospitality industry in California. It sets a precedent that frequent ADA plaintiffs cannot sue hundreds of hotels a year and expect to have standing. ADA plaintiffs will have to show they intended to visit defendant’s hotel and have a true intent to return. This stricter observance of standing for ADA cases will hopefully lead to less ADA website lawsuits.
This case was fought and won by DPA Attorney, Matthew Arnold.
For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact Pooja Patel at Ppatel@DpaAttorneys.com