1 May 2016
Federal Judge Takes Decisive Action to Protect Hotels from ADA Abuse by a High Frequency Litigant
Martin H. Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense Group
In a rare and decisive action, a Central District Court Judge dismissed an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit filed by an Arizona disabled plaintiff who has recently filed a wave of over 70 ADA lawsuits against Southern California hotels.
The plaintiff, who claims she is confined to a wheelchair, called an Orange County hotel to book a room. She asked the hotel representative whether the hotel pool and Jacuzzi had a pool lift or other means of access for disabled persons. The hotel employee allegedly reported that the hotel had no pool lifts. Thereafter, allegedly, plaintiff’s “agent,” and ADA investigator, visited the hotel, verified that there were no pool lifts, and notified the plaintiff of other ADA violations. The plaintiff claimed that she regularly frequents the area where the hotel is located and plans to do so in the future. If there was a pool lift, plaintiff claims, she would stay at the hotel in the future.
The plaintiff, Theresa Brooke, has filed over 70 ADA lawsuits against Southern California hotels in the past 6 weeks, “every single one of which” in boilerplate fashion alleges ADA violations based on inaccessible hotel pools and spas. In dismissing the lawsuit, the Judge noted that the “deluge [of ADA lawsuits] is ongoing, noting plaintiff, it appears, would like to stay at every Orange County hotel that presently has an inaccessible Jacuzzi.”
Citing a recent opinion (Brooke v. Kalthia Group Hotels), the trial judge on his own motion dismissed the lawsuit finding that plaintiff had not stated a claim under the ADA because a plaintiff who had not visited the hotel cannot litigate a case against the hotel based solely on calling the hotel, seeing pictures and taking a call from her private investigator.
Despite two decisive rulings dismissing these lawsuits, this plaintiff continues to file multiple ADA lawsuits daily. All hotel owners and operators need to know that these cases can be won without substantial cost.
If you would like to discuss any of the ADA issues, please contact us:
Chairman, Global Hospitality Group®
Chairman, ADA Defense Team
Jim Butler is a founding partner of JMBM, and the founder and chairman of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® and Chinese Investment Group™. He is recognized as one of the top hotel lawyers in the world and has authored or co-authored The HMA & Franchise Agreement Handbook, How to Buy a Hotel Handbook, The ADA Compliance and Defense Guide, and The Lenders Handbook. Jim has led the Global Hospitality Group® in more than $71 billion of hotel transactional experience, involving more than 3,800 hotel properties located around the globe. Jim’s team has also closed more than $1 billion of EB-5 financings for developer clients over the past two years. 310.201-3526 or firstname.lastname@example.org