California Team Prevails in ADA Standing Appeal for Hotel Owner

Sacramento, Calif. (April 23, 2020) - Sacramento Partner Shane Singh, San Diego Appellate Partner Jeffry Miller, and San Diego Appellate Associate Daniel Velladao recently prevailed in an appeal of a trial court’s order granting a motion to dismiss in favor of our client in an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) suit.

The plaintiff claimed our client’s hotel was not in compliance with the ADA. He insisted that this lack of ADA compliance deterred him from visiting the hotel, and that he intended to stay at the hotel once it became ADA compliant. However, since the plaintiff had never visited our client’s hotel and did not have definite plans to do so in the future, we filed a motion to dismiss for lack of standing.

The trial court granted the motion to dismiss in favor of our client on the grounds that the plaintiff had failed to demonstrate standing to bring his ADA claim. The plaintiff neither showed an intent to return to the defendant’s premises nor actual deterrence from visiting the defendant’s hotel. The trial court also denied the plaintiff leave to amend his complaint because he did not establish that an amendment would have cured the defect in his complaint.  Therefore, amending the complaint would have been futile.

The Ninth Circuit, in a short memorandum opinion, affirmed the trial court’s decision. The appellate court found that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate he had standing to bring his claim and furthermore could not establish a specific intent to return to our client’s hotel through either future plans or a pattern of past visits. He only iterated a vague intent to return in the future. He also could not prove he was deterred from visiting the hotel because he could not demonstrate actual knowledge of the hotel’s ADA noncompliance or that his injury was imminent. Lastly, the Ninth Circuit found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the plaintiff leave to amend his complaint due to the futility of the plaintiff’s proposed amendment.

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