Supreme Court issues first decision dismissing ADA case

December 6, 2023

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its first ruling of the term and dismissed a case on disability laws.

The nation's high court opted to dismiss the case that covered a disabled woman's right to sue hotels after she reviewed their websites and found they violated disability laws, as The Washington Times reported.

The woman's frustration and subsequent suits came despite the fact that she had no plans to visit the hotels.

It was the hotel chain that took the complaint to the Supreme Court, arguing that they couldn't be liable if she never intended to stay at the hotel.

The court looked for a ruling from the justices that anyone suing for a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act must have at least had the intention to experience the accommodations that the Hotel had to offer, asserting that the woman in question lacked standing.

The Court's Take

The court made a unanimous ruling saying that the case was moot and warranted a dismissal because the woman, Deborah Laufer, had moved to voluntarily dismiss the legal battle after he attorney was sanctioned by the court, and she promised not to file any future cases on the issue.

“She voluntarily dismissed her pending ADA cases after a lower court sanctioned her lawyer. She represented to this court that she will not file any others,” wrote Justice Amy Coney Barrett for the court.

“We dismiss it on that ground. We emphasize, however, that we might exercise our discretion differently in a future case.”

The Legal Effect

Because of the court's ruling, the case will be dismissed by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where it was previously heard, and the original ruling in Ms. Laufer's favor will be vacated.

The court's most recent addition, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, said that while she agreed with he dismissal of the case, she didn't agree with vacating the lower court's ruling.

Conversely, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion that he believes the court should have answered the question about whether disabled people like Laufer have a standing to bring a case even if they don't plan to visit a property that allegedly violates the ADA, laws put in place to protect them.

Justice Thomas asserted that he would have ruled that Laufer didn't have standing, or an injury, to bring such a case before his or any court.

The justice's opinion could have stemmed partially out of Laufer's history with the ADA, as the Washington Times asserts that she has made a career of searching the internet to find hotels that don't meet the law's standard and filed more than 600 complaints against said hotels.

The recently dismissed case's plaintiff has reached settlements and collected costs and attorneys fees."

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