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ADA Plaintiff Theresa Brooke Sues Hotels Over Online Reservation Policies

By: Lindsay Leavitt Attorney, Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, P.L.C.

Theresa Brooke has returned to Arizona and has found a new way to sue hotels for ADA violations. Arizona hotel owners will remember Theresa Brooke—in 2015 she sued more than 125 of them for failing to install wheelchair accessible pool lifts.

Theresa Brooke, an Arizona resident, is now filing lawsuits in the U.S. District Court of Arizona against out-of-state hotels alleging that their online reservation policies violate the ADA. More specifically, she claims that as a disabled woman she should be able to reserve a wheelchair accessible room online.

Federal regulations require public accommodations that operate a place of lodging to modify their policies to ensure that individuals with disabilities can make reservations for accessible guest rooms during the same hours and in the same manner as individuals who do not need accessible rooms. See 28 CFR § 36.302(e)(1)(i). This regulation went into effect on March 15, 2012.

Theresa Brooke’s lawsuits demand that the hotels fix the alleged violation and pay her attorney’s fees.

Are there any legal defenses to her claims? Definitely. Many defendants in ADA cases have opted to quickly remedy the alleged violation(s) and then file a Motion to Dismiss alleging the claims are moot—there is no ongoing “case or controversy” if the alleged violation has been resolved.

The first thing a hotel facing a Theresa Brooke lawsuit should do is consult with a knowledgeable and experienced ADA defense attorney. Jennings Strouss has defended more than 275 hotels, commercial landlords and businesses of all size in ADA accessibility lawsuits over the past couple of years. We are available to discuss your lawsuit and/or preventative measures your hotel can take to avoid becoming Theresa Brooke’s next lawsuit.

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Leavitt_Lindsay_99x135px_webMr. Leavitt represents and advises small and mid-size businesses in employment, landlord/tenant, and general litigation matters. He often serves as a de facto general counsel to business owners, providing practical advice on a variety of legal issues.

Mr. Leavitt’s appreciation for small businesses is due, in part, to his own family’s entrepreneurialism. His father, brother and wife are all small business owners, providing him with first-hand knowledge of the issues small businesses face, enabling him to better provide clients with real-world and cost-effective solutions. Mr. Leavitt also serves as Chair of the firm’s Food, Beverage, and Hospitality industry group.

Mr. Leavitt can be reached at  602.262.5825 or lleavitt@jsslaw.com.

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