Monday, October 17, 2005

ADA - standing - injury in fact

Kratzer v. Gamma Management - ED Pa. -- October 12, 2005
Defendant's motion for summary judgment denied on plaintiffs' ADA claims.

Plaintiffs alleged that they are qualified individuals with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 USC sec. 12101 et seq. Defendant corporation is the operator of a Ramada Inn and Conference Center. Plaintiffs said that they visited the Ramada and were denied full, safe and equal access due to barriers and Defendant's lack of compliance with the ADA.

Defendant moved for summary judgment, alleged that plaintiffs do not have standing, because they have never tried to stay at the hotel and have no current plans to hold a conference there. Standing requires an "injury in fact." Plaintiffs did allege that each has personally visited the center, continues to desire to visit, and has attended a conference there. They made very specific allegations about the particular shortcomings of the facility.

The ADA gives remedies to "any person who is being subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability...or who has reasonable grounds for believing that such person is about to be subjected to discrimination" in violation of the ADA, 42 USC sec. 12188(a)(1). The provision also states that "[n]othing in this section shall require a person with a disability to engage in a futile gesture if such person has actual notice that a person or organization" covered by the law does not intend to comply with the ADA.

No circuit court appears to have addressed the precise issue here -- whether a plaintiff who has visited a facility and identified alleged compliance problems may, after a new operator has taken over, assert a claim alleging ADA violations that are grounded in a plaintiff's intended future use of the newly operated facility." However, precedent from other circuits has held that the "futility provision" allows a suit so long as the plaintiff establishes knowledge of the barriers and that they would visit the facility but for the barriers. Other circuits have held that a plaintiff who is deterred from patronizing a public accommodation because of defendant's failure to comply with the ADA may be considered to have suffered an injury in fact. Many district courts have held likewise.

Defendant's motion for summary judgment denied.