Articles Posted in ADA Compliance and Defense

Published on:

30 June 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on ADA Compliance and Defense.

As ADA lawsuits continue target hotels, it is critical that hotel owners understand what the ADA requires during the online reservations process. Stuart Tubis of JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group, explains below.

 

ADA Requires Hotels To Describe
Accessibility Features On Website
by
Stuart Tubis, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group

Many hotels are not aware that the ADA imposes several requirements during the reservations process, including posting descriptions of the hotel’s physical accessibility features on its online reservations system.  Starting around early 2018, serial ADA plaintiffs have filed significantly more lawsuits against hotels regarding this issue.

In addition to the many physical accessibility requirements at places of lodging (hotels), such as accessible parking and accessible guest rooms, the ADA also requires places of lodging to take certain actions during the reservations process to help individuals with disabilities obtain an accessible guest room.  Specifically, places of lodging are required to do the following:

  • Ensure individuals can reserve accessible guest rooms in the same manner and time as other guests;
  • Provide descriptions of accessible features of the hotel and guest rooms as part of any reservations process (such as website booking);
  • Ensure that the hotel’s accessible guest rooms are held for individuals with disabilities and not rented out to those not requesting an accessible room (unless all non-disabled rooms have been booked); and
  • Once reserved, ensure that the accessible guest room is hard booked and not rented to anyone else.

These requirements derive from 28 C.F.R. § 36.302(e)(1), which is provided in full below.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

29 June 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
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ADA website cases continue to be filed against hotels nationwide, but some courts are pushing back against serial plaintiffs. My partner, Marty Orlick, shares the news below from a website case filed in the Northern District of New York.

ADA Website Litigation Update — Serial Plaintiff Gets No “Lucky Charm”
from New York Federal Judge
by
Martin Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group

In a case indicating that courts may be weary of serial plaintiffs filing multiple cookie-cutter lawsuits, a United States District Judge in the Northern District of New York has ordered a plaintiff to show that she has standing to bring ADA hotel website accessibility lawsuits to federal court.

The disabled plaintiff, who resides in Florida, has filed 29 nearly identical ADA website cases in the Northern District of New York seeking injunctive relief, damages, and attorneys’ fees. In this specific case, Deborah Laufer v. 1110 Western Albany LLC and Ryan LLC, the plaintiff sought an unopposed default judgement when the defendant failed to respond to the complaint.

The Court, however, determined the plaintiff failed to establish Article III standing to bring the lawsuit and refused to enter the default judgment.

Achieving Article III standing in federal court

To have standing to seek injunctive relief in federal court, plaintiffs must establish they have sustained (or are in immediate danger of sustaining) a direct injury as the result of the alleged wrongdoing, and that the injury is concrete and particularized, not hypothetical or speculative.

In this case, the plaintiff claimed injury due to the alleged lack of information on a hotel’s website about accommodations for disabled guests, as is required under the ADA’s 28 C.F.R. Section 36.302(e).

But Hon. Brenda K. Sannes, of the United States District Court of the Northern District of New York states in an Order dated May 8, 2020:

“There appears to be a serious question as to whether Plaintiff has established standing, in this, or any of her other cases, and thus whether the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over these actions. See, e.g. Laufer v. Laxmi & Sons LLC, 1:19-cv-01501 (BKS/L) (Dkt. No. 15, at 7. May 6, 2020). (“There are no facts in the Complaint or Plaintiff’s affidavit indicating that she has ever traveled to Rensselaer, New York, or anywhere in New York, or that she has any reason to travel anywhere in New York or any reason to seek lodging anywhere in New York.”)

The Judge has ordered the Plaintiff to file briefs in 29 actions, addressing whether she has standing, and to specifically reference the legal issues and case law discussed in the Memorandum-Decision and Order the Court entered in Laufer v. Laxmi & Sons, LLC.

What does this mean for hotels?

The 29 lawsuits filed by the plaintiff in the Northern District of New York, are among the more than 235 nearly identical lawsuits she has filed nationally.
CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

06 February 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on ADA Compliance and Defense.

Marty Orlick, Chair of JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group, and his team of ADA lawyers has represented more than 600 business in ADA matters, including hotels and restaurants. He has written extensively about ADA issues, including ADA websites lawsuits, which continue to proliferate.

In this third and final article of this series, Marty discusses ADA litigation that is specific to hotels, and the rise of “copycat” litigation, where more than one plaintiff sues the same entity for the same alleged violation.

This part is titled: ADA Website Accessibility Lawsuits Won’t Go Away in 2020: Part 3 – Website reservations – ADA litigation specific to hotels.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

4 February 2020

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In Part 1 of this 3-part series, my partner, Marty Orlick, Chair of JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense Group, explains how we got from providing parking for disabled guests, to providing websites and mobile apps that can be accessed by potential guests who are blind or sight impaired.

Now, in part 2, he writes about a few key court decisions that may affect ADA compliance and litigation, and what they mean to the hospitality industry.

This part is titled: ADA Website Accessibility Lawsuits Won’t Go Away in 2020: Part 2 – Rights to Due Process and Standing Requirements.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

30 January 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on ADA Compliance and Defense.

JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® has defended hundreds of hotel, resort and restaurant owners all over the United States in ADA litigation, and has provided counseling that has brought entire hotel portfolios into compliance with the ADA.

Hospitality industry veterans fully understand the need to remove physical barriers to disabled guests, which can include a lack of accessible parking, no accessible paths of travel on the hotel grounds, counters exceeding height limits, bathrooms that aren’t accessible to wheelchairs, and so on.

Increasingly, however, we are seeing ADA lawsuits alleging an establishment’s website and mobile application is inaccessible to persons who are blind or sight impaired and use screen reading software.

My partner, Marty Orlick, Chair of JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense Group, has written extensively about websites and ADA compliance, and is experienced in defending ADA website lawsuits. In his recent article for Law360 on the topic, he explains the issues, covers recent court decisions, and details ADA website litigation that is specific to hotels.

We’re going to deliver the article to you in blog-sized bites, the first of which is titled, ADA Website Accessibility Lawsuits Won’t Go Away in 2020: Part 1 – How We Got Here.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

23 January 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.

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

Over the years, my partner, Marty Orlick, Chair of JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense Group, has written about service animals used by persons with disabilities, and what hospitality staff needs to know about how to accommodate them. For example, what should the hostess of your restaurant do when a miniature horse enters your establishment with its disabled owner? What kind of animals qualify as service animals, anyway? And what is the owner’s responsibility?

Read Marty’s latest article on this topic, The ADA and Service Animals – Don’t Horse Around.

Click here to read the article.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

29 May 2019

JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense Group has defended more than 750 ADA lawsuits and DOJ investigations or actions brought against owners and operators of hotels and other businesses classified as “public accommodations” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A federal Grand Jury has indicted a prolific ADA plaintiff for income tax evasion. More than just an interesting story, Marty Orlick explains how this might affect current and future ADA litigation.

 
Serial Plaintiff Who Filed Nearly 3,000 Americans with Disabilities Act (‘ADA’) Lawsuits is Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury and Faces Possible Imprisonment and Fines for Income Tax Evasion
by
Martin H. Orlick, Hotel Lawyer  & Chair,
JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group

In an ironic twist of fate, Scott N. Johnson, Esq., a disabled Sacramento attorney, who has filed nearly 3,000 ADA lawsuits as plaintiff, starting in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, now faces possible jail time for felony income tax fraud according to a Federal Grand Jury Indictment.

On May 23, 2019, United States Attorneys filed a Grand Jury Indictment, United States of America v. Scott Norris Johnson, accusing Johnson of three counts of “Making and Subscribing a False Tax Return” by failing to declare substantial income derived from ADA settlements on his U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns and his U.S. Corporation Income Tax Returns for the tax years 2012-2014.

According to the Indictment, from no later than “on or about January 28, 2008, SCOTT NORRIS JOHNSON owned and operated Disabled Access Prevents Injury, Inc. (“DAPI”), a corporation registered in the State of California. DAPI was treated as a C corporation for tax purposes.” The Indictment alleges that Johnson was DAPI’s sole shareholder and that DAPI “provided legal services associated with lawsuits that it filed on behalf of SCOTT NORRIS JOHNSON as the plaintiff.”
CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

21 May 2019

JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense team, led by my partner Marty Orlick, continues to help hotels and other businesses achieve compliance under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and has defended more than 750 ADA lawsuits and DOJ investigations or actions brought against owners and operators of “public accommodations.” Such properties include hotels, resorts, restaurants, timeshares, bed and breakfasts, spas, sports facilities, wineries, theaters and other commercial real estate, such as apartment communities, shopping centers, retail stores and banks.

Today, Marty shares some good news from Riverside, California, where the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office is seeking to stop abusive ADA lawsuits filed by serial litigants.

 
Riverside County DA drops the hammer on ADA litigant and counsel
to stop abusive litigation
by
Martin H. Orlick, Hotel Lawyer  & Chair,
JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group

In an extraordinary case charging ADA litigation abuse, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office filed an action on behalf of the People of California seeking to permanently prevent serial ADA plaintiff James Rutherford and two law firms that regularly represent him (Manning Law and the Law Offices of Babak Hashemi, and individual members of the firms) from filing abusive lawsuits. The Complaint alleges that the defendants violated various Business & Professions Code sections designed to protect the public against “unlawful, unfair or fraudulent acts or practices” and seeks civil penalties not to exceed $2,500 for each violation and other equitable relief. Civil penalties in this case could exceed $800,000 if the allegations prove true.

The Complaint alleges that “Defendants filed 323 lawsuits based on alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act” in federal and state courts. Many of these lawsuits were filed against hotels and retailers. According to court papers, the pleadings filed by the defendants follow a pattern of near-identical “allegations, except for the identity of the named defendants and the date of the alleged harm.”

This lawsuit is eerily similar to a lawsuit filed by the Arizona Attorney General against Peter Strojnik, Sr., who filed nearly 2,000 identical ADA lawsuits against Phoenix/Scottsdale businesses. Suspended from practicing law, Mr. Strojnik surrendered his license to avoid disbarment. Another lawyer in New Mexico also surrendered her license in lieu of disbarment over ADA litigation abuse. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

15 February 2019

$87 billion in hotel transactions involving more than 3,900 properties
LOS ANGELES—The hotel lawyers of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® are pleased to present their updated Hospitality Credentials, which include clients and projects that represent more than $87 billion in hotel transaction experience involving more than 3,900 properties worldwide – more than any other law firm.

“If you are a hotel owner, developer, or capital provider, our hospitality lawyers can provide expertise and experience you just won’t find elsewhere,” said Jim Butler, Chairman of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group. “Whether you are buying or selling a hotel, developing a new one, need a privacy and cybersecurity plan, or defend an ADA lawsuit – we have lawyers who know the ropes, and can guide you every step of the way.”

JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group provides a full range of services to the hospitality industry including:

  • ADA compliance & defense
  • Cannabis
  • Celebrity chef agreements
  • Construction
  • Corporate governance
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data privacy
  • Development
  • Equity & joint ventures
  • Expert witness
  • Fiduciary duty
  • Financing
  • Foreign investment
  • Franchise & licensing
  • Hotel-specific contracts
  • Labor & employment
  • Land use & environmental
  • Leasing
  • Litigation
  • Management agreements
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Opportunity Zone
  • Proposition 65
  • Purchase & sale
  • Shareholder disputes
  • Tax
  • Trademark & copyright
  • Trusts and estates
  • Union negotiations
  • Union prevention
  • Vacation ownership
  • Workouts, bankruptcies & receiverships
“Exceeding $87 billion in hotel transactions involving 3,900 properties is a new milestone, and one I am proud to announce,” said Butler. “I am grateful to all of our wonderful hospitality clients who have shown us their trust and confidence over the years and continue to provide us with challenging and meaningful work.”

About JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group
JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group is the premier hospitality practice in a full-service law firm and the most experienced legal and advisory team in the industry. The Group publishes the Hotel Law Blog and hosts the annual Meet the Money® National Hotel Finance & Investment Conference (May 6-9, 2019 in Los Angeles). For more information visit www.HotelLawyer.com.

Contact:

Jim Butler
jbutler@jmbm.com
+1 310-201-3526

Published on:

21 June 2018

As the number of electric and hybrid vehicles in California continues to grow, we are also seeing the proliferation of electric vehicle charging stations in the parking areas provided by hotels, theaters, stadiums and hotel mixed-use properties. While owners and managers of these facilities are providing a much-needed service to their guests, many are unaware that – at least in California – if their facility provides electric vehicle charging stations, a certain number of them must be accessible to the disabled.

The regulations and requirements for these accessible charging stations are very specific, and the article below, written by my partner Marty Orlick, gives only a high-level summary of the scoping and technical requirements. This is an area where you really need to talk to the experts.

 
Are Your electric vehicle charging stations “accessible” to disabled guests
under California’s latest regulations?
by
Martin H. Orlick
Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group

With the surge in popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles, the need to provide Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCS) is on the rise at hotels, theaters, stadiums, and hotel mixed-use properties. If your EVCS are not accessible to your disabled guests, here is what you need to know.

California’s Regulations for EVCS Accessibility

In California, if your commercial facility provides EVCS for your customers and guests, you must also provide a certain number of EVCS that are accessible.

California’s accessibility regulations for EVCS are in the 2016 California Building Code (CBC), and went into effect on January 1, 2017. The regulations supersede and expand upon California’s little-known “Interim Disabled Access Guidelines for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations” created in 1997.

The CBC accessibility regulations include both scoping requirements (what type of EVCS and how many) and technical requirements (where to locate EVCS, and how to make them accessible).

Scoping Requirements

The number and type of accessible EVCS required is determined by the total number of EVCS at a facility. When new EVCS are added to a site with existing EVCS, the total number of new and existing EVCS is used to determine the number of accessible EVCS.

The table below, provided by the California Division of the State Architect, sets forth these scoping requirements. CONTINUE READING →

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