Author Archives: Brian Muse

So a Woman and a Kangaroo Walk Into a Bar

On this blog we’ve explored the laws related to service animals and how the ADA’s regulations extend their use far past traditional notions of “seeing eye dogs.” In Wisconsin (admit it, you assumed this blog post was going to have an Aussie connection), a woman is treading new territory by seeking legal recognition to use a kangaroo as a therapy animal. The woman, Diana Moyer, owns several kangaroos and also has a doctor’s note stating that one of the kangaroos—Jimmy—is a therapy animal to assist her in dealing with cancer treatment and depression. In no way would we ever mock …

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Uber’s ADA Conundrum

When you think of Uber (or similar companies like Lyft and Sidecar) you probably think of a transportation company. You request a ride on the company’s app and a driver (in his own vehicle) picks you up. The nature of the company’s business is, however, the very thing at issue in a series of lawsuits brought against Uber under the ADA. In lawsuits filed in Arizona, California, and Texas, individuals and disability rights organizations have accused Uber of failing to comply with ADA requirements of offering accommodations for the disabled (including individuals who are visually and mobility impaired) in providing …

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Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: New DOJ Closed-Captioning Rules

The price of movie tickets could be going up soon.  Under new proposed regulations issued by the Department of Justice, movie theaters with digital screens would be required to show  films with options for closed captioning (for hearing impaired patrons) and audio descriptions (for visually impaired patrons).  Movie theaters would not be required to create their own captioning or assistive aids.  Rather, when a movie is available for distribution with closed captioning and audio description, the theater must purchase the version containing these accommodations.  In some circumstances, a theater may show films without these accommodations if a compliant version is …

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Curb Appeal: Looks Matter When It Comes to the ADA

I’m frequently asked two questions by business owners and managers when it comes to ADA compliance and lawsuits.  The first question is, “what type of businesses get sued most often?”  The second question is, “how can I avoid becoming one of those businesses?”  Like many things, the answers to these questions can be complex and involve a lot of variables.  Certainly, for example, businesses that operate in industries that deal heavily with the public, such as retail, hospitality, and banking, are often frequent targets based on the volume of people that come to a business’s facilities to use their services.  …

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Does Your Business Have a Website? Get Ready for New ADA Regulations

Courts have wrestled for several years with how to apply the ADA’s public accommodation requirements to online businesses or online aspects of businesses (USA Today published an article and quoted me on the issue available at the link below). The statute itself (enacted in 1990) does not address online businesses, nor do current regulations. Litigation in this area has also produced divergent results. In some cases, federal courts have dismissed such claims holding that online stores and websites are not public accommodations within the meaning of Title III of the ADA. In others, courts have held that commercial websites are …

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How to Avoid Your Business Becoming an ADA Target

It is certainly good to know what to do if your business is served with a lawsuit under the ADA. It is even better to know what steps you can take to help avoid your business becoming a target for these lawsuits in the first place. While there is no way to completely avoid the risk of an ADA lawsuit, taking a few simple (and in many cases low cost) steps can help reduce the risk of appearing as “low hanging fruit” for plaintiffs, plaintiff’s advocacy organizations, and the Department of Justice. Tip #1: Curb Appeal We’ve all heard stories …

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DOJ Ratchets Up ADA Enforcement For Health Care Providers

In 2011, the Department of Justice launched its  “Barrier Free Health Care Initiative.” This Initiative utilizes U.S. Attorneys Offices across the Country to act as a “force multiplier” to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not denied access to health care. The DOJ’s enforcement priorities include situations where an individual is unable to access treatment, care, or services because of physical limitations such as deafness and blindness. Recently, the DOJ has made equal access for individuals with HIV/AIDS a priority under this initiative. Within the last two months, the Agency has entered into settlement agreements with three different medical providers …

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Could Your Banking Website Be The Target of a Lawsuit?

Recently, I was interviewed by TheFinancialBrand.com for an article on the ADA and website accessibility standards for the deaf and blind (full article here). Websites are becoming the next frontier in ADA litigation as courts have ruled that it also applies to a company’s website and have held companies liable for difficulties disabled customers experience online. Taking proactive steps to review and modify your company’s website will save you from the price of ADA non-compliance and costly litigation.  

The ADA & Athletics: It Applies Here Too

We often think of the ADA’s reach as focused on employment and public accommodations such as hotels and shopping centers. It is, therefore, easy to forget that it also impacts activities. This includes public meetings, conventions—and sporting events. One of the most well-known sports and disability cases is that of professional golfer Casey Martin. Prior to 2001, the PGA Tour required all tournament participants to walk and barred the use of golf carts. Martin suffers from a degenerative condition that affected his ability to walk that prevented him from competing in PGA events. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, held that …

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Insurance and ADA Public Accommodations Claims

Navigating common insurance issues for claims under Title III of the ADA Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses which offer goods and services to the public (i.e. “public accommodations”) take steps to ensure that their facilities are accessible to individuals with disabilities.  In addition to the ADA’s general accessibility mandate, its governing regulations provide detailed requirements for businesses that range from the minimum number of accessible parking spaces to the height of mirrors and toilets in restrooms.  The failure to comply with these guidelines can lead to lawsuits in federal court.  If you follow …

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