A case with significant implications on the ADA (and standing generally) is in front of the Supreme Court this session. Let us explain.
Deborah Laufer is a self-appointed civil rights tester. What does this mean? Well, Laufer — who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair or a cane to move around – seeks hotels with websites that do not provide information about their accessibility. If that information does not exist, Laufer sues under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Importantly, Laufer is based in Florida and likely does not intend to stay at the hotels she files suit against. This fact is important.
One defendant hotel has argued that Laufer should not have standing to sue because she never intended to stay there. The district court agreed. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit reversed the district court and found that Laufer had standing under the ADA because she had a right to information about accessibility. Now the Supreme Court get’s to weigh in on tester standing.
Wait, isn’t this all moot?
So a few months ago, Laufer tried to dismiss her case and invalidate the appellate court’s decision. Why? So it turned our that her attorney (other ADA cases), Tristain Gillespie was recommended to be suspended from practicing before the Maryland court for six months because he had violated legal ethics rules on countless occasions. Although Gillespie was not involved in the current case, Laufer told the justices want the matter to be a distraction from the merits of her claims.
In August, the Supreme Court declined Laufer’s request, stating that they would reconsider the question of mootness at oral argument in addition to the legal question already at the center of this case.
Given it’s wide implications as to the ADA and standing generally, we are closely watching this case.