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Court of Appeals Reinstates ADA Discrimination Suit Filed by Testers



A federal appeals court on Wednesday reinstated a discrimination lawsuit filed by a self-proclaimed “tester,” who has filed hundreds of similar lawsuits, accusing an inn of failing to provide information about its accessibility to people with disabilities on its reservation portal and elsewhere. , in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on Wednesday reversed a Portland, Maine, U.S. District Court dismissal of Deborah Laufer v. Acheson Hotels LLC and said Laufer had suffered “a concrete and particular injury” that gave her the ability to file suit under the ADA, even though she allegedly had no intention of visiting The Coast Village Inn and Cottages in Wells, Maine.

The ruling contradicts similar rulings against Laufer, including a recent one issued by a federal appeals court in New York. But in April, the federal appeals court in Atlanta also reinstated a comparable lawsuit filed by Laufer.

Laufer, who is disabled, charged that Acheson failed to identify accessible rooms, provide an option to reserve such a room, nor provide sufficient information to determine whether the rooms and the inn̵

7;s features were accessible, either on its own website or on other travel-related websites, in violation of the ADA.

“Does Laufer’s self-admitted status as a tester — that she had no intention of doing anything other than testing the site’s ADA compliance — mean she has not suffered an injury?” asked the judge.

In concluding that she had suffered such an injury, the ruling cited a 1982 decision by the United States Supreme Court in Havens Realty corp. v. Coleman which ruled in favor of a black trier of fact seeking to determine whether apartment property owners violated discrimination laws.

Havens Realty appears on the nose of Laufer’s case — both with respect to her status as a tester and the harm she sustained,” a three-judge appeals court panel said.

“We cannot overrule prior Supreme Court cases — that much the Court has made clear,” the decision said, adding “we respectfully disagree” with other federal appeals court cases that have ruled differently on the issue.

The case was remanded for further processing.

Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.


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