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BMD Obtains Dismissal of ADA Title III Suit Against National Outlet Mall Chain

On January 12, 2018, Brennan, Manna & Diamond obtained the dismissal of an Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) lawsuit filed against Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

The suit, which was brought under Title III of the ADA, alleged that Tanger’s Byron Center, Michigan outlet mall contained barriers to access in violation of the ADA’s accessibility requirements. The plaintiff demanded prospective injunctive relief, including a retrofit of the entire mall, as well as expert witness and attorneys’ fees.

BMD moved to dismiss the case for lack of standing. Unlike a conventional suit, where a plaintiff seeking monetary damages must show a past injury to possess legal standing, an ADA Title III plaintiff must show a threat of prospective future harm in order to recover. Typically, this means that the plaintiff must plead (and prove) that he or she has reason to continue to visit the public accommodation in question and will continue to be injured by the facility’s alleged non-compliance with the ADA.

In its opinion granting Tanger’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, United States Magistrate Judge Ellen S. Carmody held that the plaintiff’s Amended Complaint failed to adequately plead prospective future injury. In particular, the Court noted that “[v]ague and conclusory allegations that a plaintiff intends to return to a location […] are insufficient to maintain an ADA claim.” Applying this standard to the plaintiff’s Amended Complaint, the Court held that his “vague and conclusory statements regarding his alleged intent to return” to Tanger’s Byron Center property “are insufficient.” On this record, the Court found that the plaintiff “failed to sufficiently allege that he will suffer a future injury in the absence of injunctive relief.”

Recognizing the cost that ADA Title III actions pose to owners and operators of public accommodations, BMD’s experienced team of ADA litigators uses a proactive approach to seek the early and cost-effective resolution of cases before proceeding with expensive expert discovery. BMD was proud to obtain this result for Tanger Factory Outlets, one of the largest and most iconic outlet mall chains in the country.

BMD Partners Christopher Congeni and Daniel Rudary represented Tanger Factory Outlet Centers in this case. The citation for Court’s opinion is Saar v. Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc., W.D. Mich. No. 1:17-cv-41, 2018 WL 387962 (Jan. 12, 2018).

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CLIENT ALERT: Construction Law Update: Communication is Key! And Other Lessons Learned From A Recent Public Project Court Decision

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