Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits under Title III are often filed against businesses and landlords. They can be defended, however, if the plaintiff who filed the lawsuit lacks standing in court. This is more common than it might sound.
In law, standing is a requirement for the party seeking a legal remedy. That party must show that they have sufficient connection to the alleged violation and have, or will have, harm from it. Standing is what prevents someone from bringing a lawsuit over something that doesn’t affect them, or on behalf of someone they have no real connection to. A plaintiff must have a real stake in the outcome of the litigation.
If an ADA plaintiff does not have a bona fide intent to do business with the defendant, then there is no standing because there is no harm to the plaintiff. Someone with a disability cannot just sue a business that he/she has no actual intent to ever do business with. There would be no harm for the court to remedy, and standing would not exist. The same principle applies to accessibility claims under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.
For example, in Gomez v. Tribecca, Inc. in May 2022, the court considered a case brought by a Florida plaintiff who is blind suing a car rental company in California for ADA violations on the company’s website. The plaintiff alleged the website was not coded to work for blind users. However, the court found his claims lacking in credibility. The defendant’s car rental locations were not located in a convenient area for plaintiff to use. Additionally, Gomez’s history of filing dozens of lawsuits likely reduced his credible intent to use the defendant’s business further. Other factors can be considered by the court as well, to help determine if the plaintiff has a credible intent to use the goods or services of the business. The court ultimately sided with defendant and dismissed the lawsuit. USDC, Central District of CA, Case No. 2:20-cv-06894-DSF-AFM, Doc #57.
Defendants named in ADA or Unruh lawsuits should first consider whether the plaintiff lacks standing to bring the claims. Consult with an attorney for further help.