Federal ADA Title III lawsuits hit all-time high

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Federal ADA Title III lawsuits hit all-time high

By Minh Vu and Kristina Launey - 02/28/2020

The year 2019 was another record-breaking year for Federal ADA Title III lawsuits.

Plaintiffs filed at least 11,053 ADA Title III lawsuits in federal court in 2019 — 890 (or 8.8%) more than in 2018. This is the highest number since we started tracking these lawsuits in 2013, when there were only 2,722 such lawsuits. 

These numbers include Title III lawsuits filed on all grounds — physical facilities, websites and mobile applications, service animals, sign language interpreters and more. The numbers do not include the significant number of disability access lawsuits filed in state courts which are much more difficult to accurately track.

California, New York, and Florida continued to lead the country with the highest number of lawsuits by a long shot, with 4,794, 2,635, and 1,885 lawsuits, respectively.  These three states saw 84% of all the ADA Title III lawsuits nationwide, with California and New York each breaking their own records for the number of ADA Title III lawsuits.

Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, and Alabama also made the top ten but trailed very far behind with Georgia leading the second pack with 243 lawsuits. Arizona fell out of the top ten with a dramatic decrease in lawsuit numbers (94 in 2018 to 13 in 2019), replaced by Illinois which had 190 lawsuits in 2019 — a 171% increase over 2018.

Businesses in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont continued to be ADA Title III lawsuit-free for the third consecutive year (2017-2019).

For the lawsuit trends in 2019 that drove these numbers, see our year-end roundup post.

A note on our methodology: Our research involved a painstaking manual process of going through all federal cases that were coded as “ADA-Other” and manually culling out the ADA Title II cases in which the defendants are state and local governments.  The manual process means there is the small possibility of human error.

Minh Vu is head of Seyfarth’s ADA Title III Specialty Team, and a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.  She has handled a wide array of disability discrimination matters involving public accommodations throughout the country. 

Kristina Launey, a partner in Seyfarth’s Sacramento, Calif. office, is a member of the firm’s ADA Title III Specialty Team, and regularly advises and defends clients in litigation arising under Americans with Disabilities Act and related California disability access laws.

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