Explaining “Standing” in ADA Litigation

Standing” is a legal concept that serves as a “gate-keeping” function in litigation. It allows only those with an interest in the case to be involved. So, for example, if there is a dispute between two NYC businesses, they will hire experienced NYC attorneys to file, defend, and prosecute the litigation. No one involved wants other random New York businesses joining the lawsuit or strangers “off the street.” That is the purpose of the doctrine of standing. Only those with some specific grievance, injury, or interest in the ADA litigation are allowed to participate. Parties not within a class become a problem frequently in Americans with Disabilities Act litigation. Such parties do not have standing, i.e, a person must be one of those intended to be protected by the ADA statute AND suffer some concrete injury or damage. The leading case is Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (US Supreme Court 2016).

The definition of standing can be complex and is frequently litigated.

TheLocalNews.Org recently published an article involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). As described, a San Francisco federal judge issued an Order directed at three disabled persons who filed thousands of ADA lawsuits. The three plaintiffs in these cases claimed that all the businesses violated the ADA by not being accessible to disabled persons. The three plaintiffs each use a wheelchair and are mobility disabled. To have standing under the ADA, as noted above, a plaintiff must

  • Be a person intended to be protected by the ADA law.
  • Have a concrete injury, that is, suffered some violation of the law.
  • They must also have a genuine expectation of returning to where they experienced disability discrimination.

Statutes and regulations can raise the level of standing required to pursue litigation.

The ADA imposes this additional requirement in some Federal Courts. As described in the article, the judge ordered the plaintiffs and their lawyers to submit affidavits, under penalty of perjury, stating that they genuinely intend to return to the inaccessible businesses. Interestingly, San Francisco and Los Angeles District Attorneys sued the plaintiffs’ lawyers for allegedly filing hundreds of fraudulent lawsuits. The lawsuit by the District Attorneys claims that the attorneys knew that the three plaintiffs did not have legal standing to file lawsuits under the ADA. Therefore, the Defendants requested that the Court order the attorneys to repay settlements paid in all the fraudulent ADA lawsuits.

Although these particular examples involve California lawsuits, the Courts in New York apply the same principles. Thus, an experienced ADA attorney will research the plaintiff and its previous suits when facing a new case. If the plaintiff is a “serial-filer,” that may identify additional legal defenses to the recent case — like lack of standing.

Contact the ADA Defense Litigators at Wright Law Firm NYC Today

Call the experienced New York City ADA lawyers and litigators at Wright Law Firm NYC for more information. We provide top-tier legal services for New York businesses. We can help get your startup off and running. To schedule a consultation, please contact our office by e-mail or call us at (212) 619-1500.