Tuesday, December 5, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit filed by a woman who calls herself a “lawsuit tester.”
Deborah Laufer is visually-impaired and uses a wheelchair. She has used her disabilities to search online for businesses that are not technically compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act requirement that hotels provide information in their reservation systems stating whether they were handicap-accessible, and then uses her status as a disabled person to claim status as one harmed by the conduct of that business.
In fact, she has sued 600 small businesses she has accused of discriminating against disabled people.
Ms. Laufer’s latest foray into lawsuit testing was an action against a hotel in Maine, claiming the hotel omitted information on its website about accessibility features for disabled people, and that such omission violated a 2010 Justice Department regulation requirement that reservation systems include accessibility information.
She had no intention of booking a room at that location, so her latest lawsuit was thrown out on the basis she had no “standing” to challenge whether the hotel was ADA-compliant- she was not in any way hurt by the conduct of Coast Village Inn and Cottages. The judge, the Biden administration, and the hotel all agreed Laufer had no standing to bring this suit. The parties also agreed the lawsuit was moot, because Ms. Laufer dismissed her lawsuit and several other pending lawsuits after one of her attorneys in a separate lawsuit was disciplined by a lower court for ethics violations.
Business groups have alleged such ADA “testers” are behind an explosion of lawsuits against small businesses unaware of such regulations.
I agree with the business owners in this instance. Courts have more important business to attend to, and should not be wasting time rewarding people just looking for ways to make money by suing people.