There has been a sharp rise in the number of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits filed in 2020 and 2021 thus far alleging a lack of compliant passenger loading zones. Many of these lawsuits have been filed against hotels in California throughout the state. The lawsuits are generally filed by serial ADA plaintiff Theresa Brooke. She is generally represented by attorney Peter Strojnik.
All hotels should be aware of the law and potential for litigation. The ADA requires if any passenger loading zones are offered to guests, there must be at least one passenger loading zone provided for people with disabilities. Below is an excerpt from the most recent ADA Standards (the 2010 ADA Standards) for reference.
2010 ADA Standards Re Passenger Loading Zones:
209.2 Type. Where provided, passenger loading zones shall comply with 209.2.
209.2.1 Passenger Loading Zones. Passenger loading zones, except those required to comply with 209.2.2 and 209.2.3, shall provide at least one passenger loading zone complying with 503 in every continuous 100 linear feet (30 m) of loading zone space, or fraction thereof.
503 Passenger Loading Zones
503.1 General. Passenger loading zones shall comply with 503.
503.2 Vehicle Pull-Up Space. Passenger loading zones shall provide a vehicular pull-up space 96 inches (2440 mm) wide minimum and 20 feet (6100 mm) long minimum.
503.3 Access Aisle. Passenger loading zones shall provide access aisles complying with 503 adjacent to the vehicle pull-up space. Access aisles shall adjoin an accessible route and shall not overlap the vehicular way.
503.3.1 Width. Access aisles serving vehicle pull-up spaces shall be 60 inches (1525 mm) wide minimum.
503.3.2 Length. Access aisles shall extend the full length of the vehicle pull-up spaces they serve.
503.3.3 Marking. Access aisles shall be marked so as to discourage parking in them.
Figure 503.3 Passenger Loading Zone Access Aisle
503.4 Floor and Ground Surfaces. Vehicle pull-up spaces and access aisles serving them shall comply with 302. Access aisles shall be at the same level as the vehicle pull-up space they serve. Changes in level are not permitted.
EXCEPTION: Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted.
503.5 Vertical Clearance. Vehicle pull-up spaces, access aisles serving them, and a vehicular route from an entrance to the passenger loading zone, and from the passenger loading zone to a vehicular exit shall provide a vertical clearance of 114 inches (2895 mm) minimum.
CAVEAT: Not every entrance is a “Passenger Loading Zone”
What constitutes a “passenger loading zone” under the ADA is an open question and is fact specific. While plaintiffs’ lawyers may attempt to convince you otherwise, not all entrances to hotels are passenger loading zones. Before you jump to conclusions, you should consult with an experienced ADA lawyer to see if the ADA Standards apply to your property and determine whether you offer an alternative that provides equal or greater access.
JMBM has a full scale ADA compliance and defense practice. If you have questions or have been sued regarding this issue, please email the author, Stuart K. Tubis, Esq. for information.
Stuart Tubis is a lawyer at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP and a member of JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group. Stu counsels businesses on the full spectrum of ADA compliance issues and represents their interests in civil litigation and Department of Justice investigations. He has a background in technology, which helps in resolving the growing area of website accessibility issues. Contact Stuart Tubis at 415.984.9622 or STubis@jmbm.com.