This past Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging a disabled woman’s claim that she has legal standing to bring a lawsuit against a Maine hotel company for violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) even though she does not plan to visit its hotel in the future. The outcome of this case will be crucial for all places of public accommodations, even those outside the hotel context, such as restaurants, stores, and other retail establishments. Indeed, this case has the potential to determine whether it becomes significantly easier or more difficult for plaintiffs to bring viable ADA lawsuits against any type of company whose business is open to the public, regardless as to whether the allegations relate to websites or more traditional “brick and mortar” barriers to access.
This case began in 2020 when Deborah Laufer, an individual who uses a wheelchair, brought a lawsuit against Acheson Hotels, a hotel company that operates the Coast Village Inn and Cottages in Maine, alleging that Acheson’s website failed to identify accessible rooms, failed to provide an option for booking an accessible room, and failed to provide sufficient information to determine whether any of the guest rooms were accessible, in violation of Title III of the ADA. As you may recall from our prior blog post, Ms. Laufer is a prolific ADA tester/serial plaintiff who has filed more than 600 lawsuits against hotels and other places of lodging. Aside from the name of the property she is suing, Ms. Laufer’s lawsuits are virtually identical; they allege that a hotel or other place of lodging has violated the ADA because its website and/or third-party online reservation website (such as Expedia) purportedly fails to sufficiently identify the accessible features of the hotel, as required by the ADA regulations. Continue reading