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Hospitality Lawyer: ADA Update — Federal Courts Denying Plaintiffs’ Attorneys’ Fees

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11 September 2006
Hotels and other targets of ADA lawsuits have found a friend in the U.S. Constitution: Article III.

Many thousands of ADA lawsuits have been filed in federal District Courts in the past few years. A large percentage of the plaintiffs filing these lawsuits are represented by a handful of plaintiffs’ organizations that specialize in ADA lawsuits. Because plaintiffs can recover attorneys’ fees and litigation costs and — in California and several other states — damages, in addition to injunctive relief, plaintiffs’ organizations have become a cottage industry.

However, some federal courts have recently determined they have no authority to award attorney’s fees, because the plaintiffs failed to establish “Article III standing”.

Article III of the U.S. Constitution limits the jurisdiction of federal courts to the resolution of “cases” and “controversies.” Article III standing requires a plaintiff to show that (1) he or she has suffered an “injury in fact” that is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant; and (3) it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.

In the Ninth Circuit, to show a concrete and particularized injury, a plaintiff must demonstrate that he or she is affected in a personal and individual way. These courts have held that a plaintiff has Article III standing only for those ADA violations which he or she personally encountered (or knew of) which then deterred further visits to the property.

In other words, if a plaintiff doesn’t prove he or she planned to return to the hotel at the time the complaint was filed, there is no actual or imminent injury, and therefore no Article III standing. Without Article III standing, a plaintiff’s lawyer cannot collect fees and costs from the defendant.

Without the motivation of collecting attorneys’ fees, ADA plaintiffs’ organizations may stay away from federal court. That still leaves state courts, of course, but that is a subject for another day.

Other articles on ADA

If you found this article of interest, you may want to check out some of the other articles on this topic on which can all be found under the “HOTEL LAW TOPIC” of “ADA” at the top of the home page (or by clicking here). The following are titles and links to some of those articles:

ADA Compliance and Defense Lawyer: Starwood Hotels and The Phoenician get an expensive (and unnecessary) lesson in ADA compliance. Who’s next?

A blast against frivolous, serial ADA lawsuits in striking the right balance

ADA defense lawyers: When disabled hotel guests’ needs go beyond the norm for typical guests, what do hotel owners and managers have to do?

Urgent ADA warning from Hospitality Lawyer: You won’t believe what they want to do with ADA now
Hospitality Lawyers: Defending ADA lawsuits. How your hotel website can make you a target for ADA lawsuits

Hotel Lawyer: How hotel swimming pools may spawn ADA lawsuits and what to do about it.

Hospitality Lawyer — Who’s crying “Woof”? What you must know about the ADA requirements for disabled guests and their service animals

Hospitality Lawyer — Landmark ADA case could provide relief for California hotels.

Hospitality Lawyer: ADA Update — Federal Courts Denying Plaintiffs’ Attorneys’ Fees

Hospitality Lawyer: Big ADA Changes Coming to Hotels

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