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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).

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.

FCC Adds $198 Million to Strengthen Telehealth for Rural Healthcare Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has added an additional $198 million in funding to its Rural Health Care Program. These funds will be used to increase broadband services and telecommunications to bolster telehealth/telemedicine services for rural healthcare providers. Funding for rural healthcare providers was initially capped at $605 million in 2020, but the added funds will now allow the FCC to provide over $800 million to eligible providers.