The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Facilitates an ADA Serial Litigant’s Claims Against Business Owners

As many of TALG’s business clients can attest, unmeritorious claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) are an epidemic seriously affecting their bottom lines. No matter whether your business is a local taco shop or a supplier of construction materials, it likely will be considered a “public place of accommodation” which must be ADA compliant. Serial ADA litigants, many of whom have brought hundreds of ADA lawsuits, know that many businesses cannot afford to bring their businesses into ADA compliance and make “tester” visits simply to show non-compliance and then file suit seeking statutory damages due to lack of compliance.

In a recent decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the court overturned a lower trial court’s judgment after trial finding that such a serial litigant lacked standing to bring an ADA suit and that the business’s parking lot was not a “public place of accommodation” because it was not intended for use by the business’s customers. In so overturning the trial court’s decision, the Ninth Circuit ruled that lower courts cannot consider how many ADA suits the litigant has brought in determining whether the plaintiff has standing to bring suit. Even though the plaintiff had filed nearly 2,000 ADA lawsuits, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the only considerations that lower courts can consider are whether the plaintiff had knowledge of an ADA violation and whether he can establish a sufficient future injury through evidence of an intent to return to the business.

For business owners, the Ninth Circuit’s decision is another setback in the fight against the scourge of ADA suits. The Ninth Circuit effectively blessed serial ADA litigants and their campaigns against California businesses.

TALG has counseled many of its clients regarding ADA compliance and effectively represented clients who have had ADA suits filed against them. We would be happy to assist your business in answering your questions you may have regarding protecting your business from ADA suits.