Anthony Bouyer v. LAXMI Hospitality, LLC
It's important to remember federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. That limited jurisdiction derives from Article III of the U.S. Constitution. To establish standing under Article III, an ADA plaintiff must show actual or imminent injury. Injunctive Relief to remove access barriers is the only relief available to an individual ADA plaintiff in Federal Court.
In August, 2020, the plaintiff in Anthony Bouyer v. LAXMI Hospitality, LLC filed an action alleging the defendant's hotel in Woodland Hills, California violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the Complaint, the plaintiff is substantially limited in performing regular life activities and uses a wheelchair when traveling in public. The Complaint alleges that the plaintiff visited the hotel where he encountered ADA violations. The hotel had no record of the plaintiff's alleged visit. The plaintiff's Complaint sought injunctive relief requiring the defendant to make the hotel accessible.
The plaintiff served the Complaint on a hotel clerk. Due to a variety of COVID-19 related factors, the defendant failed to respond to the Complaint. The Court Clerk entered the defendant's default and the plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment. Despite being served with notice of the Motion for Default Judgment, the defendant sought our representation just before its opposition to the Motion was due.
As a threshold jurisdictional matter, the Court considered whether the plaintiff has standing to sue for injunctive relief. The Court noted that to satisfy the Constitution's Article III standing requirements, a plaintiff seeking injunctive relief to remove architectural barriers requires a sufficient showing of actual or imminent injury in the future related to the plaintiff's disability. The plaintiff filed a Declaration in support of his Motion for Default Judgment stating that due to the inaccessible features at the hotel, he was deterred from further attempting to visit the hotel and that some day when the barriers to access are remediated, he would like to return to the hotel. The Court held that "these conclusory allegations amount to mere "some day" intentions that the Ninth Circuit has found are insufficient to establish Article III standing."
The Court not only denied the plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment, it entered a Dismissal of the lawsuit in its entirety without prejudice. Yes, ADA lawsuits can be successfully defended.
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