Reports Angus Loten in the WSJ:
Small-business owners face a growing number of disabled-access lawsuits in the wake of a recent appeals-court ruling giving rise to disabled “testers,” as well as the release of detailed federal specifications for curb ramps, self-opening doors and other standards.
…A November 2013 decision by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a case against Marod Supermarkets found that someone who isn’t necessarily a patron could be a “tester” of disabled-access compliance. That cleared the way for individual plaintiffs to bring dozens, even hundreds, of lawsuits against multiple businesses, as serial testers….
The litigation upswing also follows the Justice Department’s release of a set of compliance standards for the 24-year-old federal disability law. Those standards, which came into force in March 2012, include detailed specifications for long-standing requirements, such as the allowable slope of a wheelchair ramp and the exact height of towel dispensers in accessible restrooms. They also introduced a new requirement for hotels with pools to provide a “pool lift” for disabled guests, which went into effect last year.
Some business owners say the lawsuits accomplish little more than providing revenue to attorneys. …
We warned about the pool-lift requirement multiple times. The article reports that plaintiffs are filing multiple suits against hotels in Florida for not having the lifts; along with Florida, California and New York account for a high share of all accessibility actions against local businesses and retailers, in part because of favorable state and city laws that increase complainants’ legal and financial leverage.
Adventures in bankruptcy and other high-stakes litigation. [Stacy Perman, Fortune]
It happened on AirBnB, the lodging-sharing service: “A woman rented her 600-square-foot Palm Springs, California, condo to someone for a little over a month, and now she says the guy won’t leave and is threatening to sue her.” [Business Insider, ABA Journal] For the case of the nanny who declined to leave her in-home living quarters after a falling out with the family that hired her, see this post last month. A February post raised the question of whether AirBnB visitors staying in units in San Francisco, a city with notably pro-tenant housing laws, might be able to dig in after a period much shorter than 30 days, the span that triggers tenancy status under general California law.
Win cash rewards! Under a proposed initiative in San Francisco, neighborhood snoop/informants could pocket 30 percent of fines and taxes imposed [David Kravets, Ars Technica]
Some “affordable housing”/squatting enthusiasts in San Francisco are encouraging the stratagem of renting someone’s apartment for a night or two on AirBnB, declining to leave, and settling in for what might prove a prolonged process of eviction under the city’s highly pro-tenant landlord-tenant laws. [@marketurbanism]
Following the rules wherever they lead? The newly installed alarms did promptly catch a guest smoking in a cleaning closet. [Independent]
Because you thought he was some kind of big privacy advocate or something? “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed the data as part of an investigation into the website stemming from a 2010 law that makes it illegal to use such sites to rent out your own apartment.” He says he’s after the 15,000 or so customers who used the service to let guests stay on their premises for a fee. Next: Craigslist? [New York Daily News, Matt Welch/Reason]
“A federal appeals court has tossed a $10 million defamation suit by a resort in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., that was ranked No. 1 on a 2011 ‘dirtiest hotels’ list by TripAdvisor.” The Sixth Circuit “said the list is opinion protected by the First Amendment.” [ABA Journal, Digital Media Law]