Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case in which the question presented is whether an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “tester” has Article III standing to challenge a place of public accommodation’s failure to provide disability accessibility information on its website, even if she lacked any intention of visiting that place of public accommodation. In the case, Laufer v. Acheson Hotels, LLC, the First Circuit, reversing the district court, ruled that a disabled Florida resident had standing to sue a Maine hotel under the ADA even though the plaintiff lacked any intention of staying at the hotel. There is currently a circuit split on this issue.
Financial institutions have been and continue to remain targets of ADA “testers.” Thousands of lawsuits are filed each year asserting that websites are not accessible to disabled individuals. Although Acheson Hotels involves hotel and similar accommodations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, joined by other trade groups, filed an amicus brief in which it observed that the case “presents a question of Article III standing that extends far beyond the specific circumstances of this case, the resolution of which is important to the Nation’s entire business community.” In its brief, the Chamber urged the Supreme Court to use the case as an opportunity to provide clarity on the requirements for tester plaintiffs to have Article III standing. Not only could the Supreme Court’s decision have implications for the standing of testers to bring ADA claims outside of the hotel context, it could also have implications for the standing of testers to bring other types of claims such as Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Fair Housing Act claims.
Attorneys in Ballard Spahr’s Accessibility Group regularly advise clients on digital accessibility matters in the quickly changing legal environment. In addition to representing clients in connection with litigation relating to digital accessibility, Group members draft and review digital accessibility policies and procedures, providing clients with advice to avoid litigation.