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Hotel Lawyers -- featured subjects and articles
Meet the Money® 2014

ADA defense and compliance

EB-5 financing

Workouts, bankruptcies & receiverships

Hotel Management Agreements

Hotel Franchise & License Agreements

Hotel industry trends

This is Jim Butler, author of and hotel lawyer. Please contact me at Jim Butler at or 310.201.3526.

Published on:

20 October 2016

David Loeb, Senior Research Analyst at RW Baird, presented his research during the Meet the Money® 2017 planning meeting hosted recently during The Lodging Conference. His presentation covered factors currently impacting the hospitality industry, including the stock market, cap rate changes, hotel REITs, and new technologies.

I found David’s presentation very interesting and noted the following highlights:

  • Hotel supply and demand growth are nearly in equilibrium, and forecasts still call for continuing positive grow
  • Many investors are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the next downturn
  • Secondary and tertiary markets are outperforming
  • Select service continues to grow in popularity and is getting a premium valuation
  • In terms of market capitalization, the hotel industry is comprised of “Host and 14 dwarves,” but when compared to non-hotel REITs (such as retail industry giant Simon Property Group), it is more like 15 dwarves
  • Transparency in hotel pricing and technology are having a dramatic effect on the hotel industry


Published on:

19 October 2016

ADA Defense Lawyer with a new case on Uber and Lyft

Uber and Lyft are back in the headlines again, but not for the usual ride share issues. This time it is for alleged violations of the ADA. Here is what my partner Marty Orlick, Chair of our ADA Compliance & Defense Group, has to say on this development.

The City of Brother Love is Showing Love to Persons with Disabilities
Under the ADA,
but not to Lyft or Uber
Martin H. Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group

From coast to coast, Uber and Lyft have come under increasing fire from disability rights organizations and have faced litigation because their ride share practices allegedly discriminate against persons with disabilities.  Federal lawsuits were also filed in San Francisco against Uber and Lyft .

In what appears to be the most draconian decision to date, a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge ruled on October 6, 2016 that Uber and Lyft repeatedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and issued an order suspending their rideshare services in the City of Brotherly Love.  The ramifications of this Order could be felt throughout the United States and Canada, which has similar civil rights laws to protect persons with disabilities.

Common Pleas Judge Linda Carpenter’s Order in Blount v. Philadelphia Parking Authority granted plaintiff’s request for an injunction prohibiting the parking authority from authorizing Uber and Lyft to operate in the City of Brotherly Love.

The Complaint alleged that Uber and Lyft systematically failed to provide vehicles which accommodate persons in wheelchairs, routinely refuse to accommodate persons who travel with service animals and charge excessive pricing for such accommodations. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

15 October 2016

The hotel lawyers of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® recently hosted an event for hotel industry leaders held during the Phoenix Lodging Conference. The meeting was both a high level networking opportunity and a planning session for the Firm’s national hotel finance conference – Meet the Money® 2017, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency LAX, May 8-10, 2017.

For more information, visit

U.S. Lodging Industry Analysis: Daniel Lesser, LW Hospitality Advisors

To help establish the setting, Daniel Lesser, President and CEO of LW Hospitality Advisors, gave a presentation on his view of the lodging strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (or SWOT analysis).
Among the industry strengths and opportunities Dan discussed were the U.S. economy, strong inbound foreign tourism, CMBS maturities, and the rise of secondary markets. Some of the weaknesses and threats included slowing U.S. travel growth, changing regulations, the rising influence of labor unions, cyber security risks and travel industry disrupters such as Airbnb and HomeAway.

Dan’s presentation is below.  CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

16 October 2016

Click here for the latest articles on ADA Compliance & Defense.

JMBM’s ADA Defense & Compliance team takes the ADA seriously, and we recommend that our clients take a proactive approach in identifying and solving potential problems before they become lawsuits. For many years now, we have called attention to the importance of making website ADA-compliant, but hotels, resorts, restaurants, banks, retailers and other owners and operators of commercial real estate continue to be vulnerable to one of the more recent and serious waves of ADA complaints. See Charles Schwab settles web site accessibility claim and New ADA standards for website accessibility.

Today, my partner Marty Orlick talks about a recent wave of website accessibility claims plaguing owners of commercial real estate. Be smart. Understand the problem and fix it now. This issue is not going to go away.


Hotel Websites and Reservation Systems
Is your website accessible to the blind and vision impaired?
Martin H. Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group

A version of this article was published by the California Bankers Association.

How would you react if you received a letter from a law firm alleging that your hotel’s website is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it discriminates against persons who are visually disabled?

If your reaction is to take it seriously, you would be correct.

How would you react if you discovered a near-identical letter was sent to hundreds of other hotels, restaurants and other businesses – by the same law firm?

If your reaction is that you received a cookie-cutter letter by a plaintiff firm that is using a dragnet to identify possible defendants for lawsuits, you would also be correct.

How would you respond to the demand that you bring your website into compliance with international standards for web accessibility?

If you respond by picking up the phone to call experienced ADA legal counsel, you will be saving time and money.

What it’s all about

In January 2016, the law firm Carlson Lynch Sweet & Kilpela (CLSK) sent hundreds of near-identical form letters to national hotels, restaurants, financial institutions and other businesses, contending that the Department of Justice (DOJ) – the federal agency responsible for adopting ADA Standards – requires businesses to make their websites compliant with the ADA. (Note here that the DOJ has not formally adopted any specific website accessibility guidelines.) CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

13 October 2016

Click here for the latest articles on ADA Compliance & Defense.

JMBM’s ADA Defense & Compliance team takes the ADA seriously, and we recommend that our clients take a proactive approach in identifying and solving potential problems before they become lawsuits. But sometimes serial plaintiffs just go too far with claims that cannot be justified and which violate the purpose and spirit of the ADA. Today, my partner Marty Orlick talks about a recent case that offers property owners and operators some relief against this type of harassment.

Case Dismissed: Judge Rules that Plaintiff’s Pool Lift ADA Cases
Have No Place in Federal Court
Martin H. Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group

In the latest decision against an Arizona “high frequency ADA litigant”, the United States District Court for the Central District of California ruled this week that cases like Brooke vs. Perry Family Trust, et al. have no place in Federal Court.

The plaintiff, Theresa Brooke, has filed hundreds of identical ADA lawsuits against Arizona and California hotels, including a half-dozen suits last week.  The plaintiff, a disabled resident of Arizona, contends that she was discriminated against by hundreds of hotel owners based on her disability.  She claims that these hotels violated the 2010 ADA Standards because they fail to provide permanent pool lifts at either or both the pool and spa.

In each case, Brooke alleges she called the hotels to “inquire whether the pool or Jacuzzi had a lift or other means of access for disabled persons” and the representative informed her that it did not.  Plaintiff then alleges she sent her “agent” – “an expert in ADA accessibility guidelines” – to visit the hotel, take pictures of the barriers and report back to her.  Plaintiff claims she frequently visits or intends to visit the area “in the coming months and for the indefinite future” for leisure and business. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

7 October 2016

Los Angeles—The Global Hospitality Group® of Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP is pleased to announce the recent closing of two hotel deals for their clients, Great Wolf Resorts and Wurzak Hotel Group. Jim Butler, Chair of the Global Hospitality Group®, and David Sudeck, a senior member, led the transactions and associated EB-5 financing.

Great Wolf Resorts recently closed the purchase of property in LaGrange, Atlanta, for a resort that will include a 93,000 square foot water park, several restaurants, and 456 suites. Butler and Sudeck helped their client secure financing through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program.

Another JMBM client, the Philadelphia-based Wurzak Hotel Group, recently purchased a property in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is under construction on a 24-story, dual-branded hotel. The 323-room hotel project will include The Dalmar, a Starwood Tribute Portfolio, and an Element hotel, which will feature retail, meeting facilities, and a rooftop lounge. Butler and Sudeck assisted Wurzak in sourcing EB-5 financing for the project, as well as negotiating and closing the deal.


Published on:

3 October 2016

Déjà vu all over again?

Last Thursday, President Obama signed the Continuing Resolution, or CR, passed by Congress for the principal purpose of avoiding the shutdown of the Federal government by continuing to fund government operations and most of its agencies at 2016 levels through December 9, 2016. It is hoped that at that time, Congress and the President will be able to agree upon the budget for the entire fiscal year ending September 30, 2017.

As last year, the Continuing Resolution is a temporary solution, continuing funding only through December 9, 2016. A host of various programs are included in the Continuing Resolution, including the EB-5 Regional Center program, and most other Federal programs and agencies, plus a few additional items such as relief for Flint Michigan.

What does this mean for EB-5? CONTINUE READING →

Published on:


Most of the people we talk to in the hotel industry believe that consolidations, such as the recent Marriott-Starwood and Accor-Fairmont mergers, will have a big effect on their own hotel investments and other stakeholders in the hotel industry.

JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® would like to know what you think about these events. Please click on the link below to tell us how these mergers will impact your business with this 6-question survey that should take you less than 3 minutes to complete.

Click here to take our survey.

We will share the survey results (on an anonymous and aggregated basis only) with everyone who completes the survey. The results should be interesting . . .

Published on:


PREVAILING WAGE LAW is California’s “other” minimum wage. It requires workers to be paid union wages on publicly funded construction projects. But in recent years, the law in California has EXPANDED well beyond its initial purpose.  It has become a tool for workers to demand union wages on virtually any construction project in California. These claims can increase the cost of a major construction project by millions of dollars—and can be brought years after construction is complete.

$8 million Prevailing Wage verdict in 2011
for work on the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel
Jon Welner, Hotel Lawyer

Rent credit from Port District triggered prevailing wage; $8 Million in back wages paid by Hensel Phelps Construction Company

In California Prevailing Wage Law, “public funds” come in many forms. In the case of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, the Hotel learned the hard way that a “rent credit” can transform a $350 million, privately funded project into a “public work.”

In 2005 the Hotel signed a ground lease with the Port of San Diego. The lease required the construction of a hotel and convention center by the end of 2008. Rent would be a minimum of $2.25 million per year during construction and $4.5 million per year thereafter. To help support the project, the Port agreed to a “rent credit” of up to $46.5 million during the first eleven years of the lease.

Does a rent credit = the payment of public funds?

Hilton San DiegoThe Hotel claimed that project was privately funded and not a “public work.” It argued that the rent credit was not the “payment…of public funds” because the overall lease—including the credit—was at fair market value (FMV).

The unions disagreed. They argued that a “rent credit” falls squarely within the statutory definition of “public funds,” which includes “rents…that are paid, reduced, charged at less than fair market value, waived, or forgiven” by the government. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

21 September 2016

Have you noticed the explosion of new brands from hotel companies over the past few years? At JMBM, we do a lot of work with branding through license agreements, management agreements and other arrangements. So we asked my partner Bob Braun to give us some insights on what this is all about and what significance it has.

Here are Bob’s thoughts, along with some practical advice on what owners and developers should do in this situation.

Hotels – Brand Expansion or Brand Explosion?
Bob Braun, Hotel Lawyer

Consumer oriented companies commonly use “brand extension” to launch a new product by using an existing brand name on a new or related product, often in a different category. These companies use brand extension to leverage their existing customer base and brand loyalty to increase profits with a new product offering. CONTINUE READING →