On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declined to rule on whether a disability rights activist who does not intend to book a hotel can sue businesses for failing to provide accessibility information.
By requiring hotels to abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, the case involving activist Deborah Laufer may have limited the capacity of “testers” to file cases for the benefit of the disabled community at large.
However, in a 9-0 decision that marked the beginning of the court’s October term, the justices determined that the matter was moot since Laufer had withdrawn her claim. Amy Coney Barrett wrote the opinion for the court.
That followed Laufer’s attorney’s suspension from the practice of law.
When the complaint was filed, Acheson Hotels, the company that ran the Coast Village Inn and Cottages in Maine, had just filed an appeal with the court. Laufer had no intention of staying at the hotels, according to the hotel’s attorneys, thus she lacked standing to file the lawsuits.
Laufer, a wheelchair-using disabled person, said in her 2020 lawsuit that the hotel’s website lacked pertinent information and did not provide any accessible rooms.
The hotel’s attorneys countered that she had not demonstrated the requisite injury, which is required to establish standing.
Even though Acheson was worried Laufer’s new legal team was seeking to avoid an adverse ruling, the court decided not to proceed and decide the matter.
“We are sensitive to Acheson’s concern about litigants manipulating the jurisdiction of this court,” wrote Barrett. “We are not convinced, however, that Laufer abandoned her case in an effort to evade our review.”
“The case ruling could have helped make things clearer but failed to do so” said a disability attorney in Melbourne, FL.