“Tester” Standing in ADA Cases Still Undecided by Supreme Court

As discussed in a previous blog post, the Supreme Court decided to review a case concerning “tester” standing (Acheson Hotels, LLC v. Laufer). This caused significant anticipation among those concerned with the enforcement of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, the October 4th oral arguments raised doubts about whether we would receive much-awaited guidance from the Supreme Court. In the decision of December 5, 2023, the highest court in the land opted to address the case based on different procedural considerations, deferring the question of standing to a future date.

Although the High Court refrained from issuing a majority opinion on the legality of an individual self-proclaimed as a “tester” having the standing to assert claims of Title III ADA violations, Justice Thomas, in his concurring opinion, ultimately concluded that the Plaintiff lacked the necessary standing. One of the key factors cited was the Plaintiff’s focus on upholding the rights of others rather than her own. While not legally binding, Justice Thomas’s opinion has the potential to sway federal district courts towards a narrower interpretation of who can bring forth lawsuits alleging Title III ADA violations.

As we anticipate the court’s future consideration of this standing question in upcoming cases, it remains imperative for entities classified as places of public accommodation under Title III of the ADA to prioritize compliance with its stipulations. This includes ensuring the accessibility of their websites, especially in the face of an increasing number of lawsuits alleging violations, often initiated by individuals similar to Laufer in the Acheson Hotels, LLC case.