Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, et al. v. RLJ Lodging Trust, 4:15-cv-00224-YGR
CCDC is joining the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), and the law firms of Lewis, Feinberg, Lee & Jackson, Lee, P.C. and Campins Benham-Baker, LLP in California litigation against Ashford Hospitality Trust. Please read the information posted by CREEC, reproduced below:
On January 15, CREEC filed three federal class action lawsuits in California challenging three hotel owner/operators’ consistent failure to provide accessible options when they choose to provide transportation services to guests. In other words, we’re suing hotel owners who offer free shuttles and vans – to the airport, to local attractions, and just as a means of getting around town – but do not provide accessible vehicles in their fleets (or equivalent transportation) for hotel guests who use wheelchairs for mobility. The hotel owners/operators are RLJ Lodging Trust, Hospitality Properties Trust, and Ashford Hospitality Trust. If those names sound unfamiliar, perhaps you’ll recognize the names Embassy Suites, Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Marriott, Sheraton, Residence Inn, and Hampton Inn, which are just a few of the brands listed in these companies’ portfolios.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires hotels that provide transportation services to guests to offer equivalent accessible transportation for guests who use wheelchairs or scooters. Although this law has been on the books for over 20 years, hundreds of hotels throughout the country do not provide the same transportation for guests who use wheelchairs as they do for guests who do not.
CREEC decided to get involved in this specific ADA issue for a number of reasons. Back in 2014, one of the plaintiffs in the cases first got in touch with us about this prolific problem. The information that hotels often fail to provide accessible shuttles and vans wasn’t exactly breaking news. However, we were curious to find out how widespread the issue was and what kind of work we, as ADA advocates, could do in terms of litigation.
Last May, Amy attended a U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division presentation on Transportation Accessibility and learned much more about public and private transportation and the ADA. After some investigation in California, we found that unequal access to free hotel transportation affects many people who use wheelchairs for mobility – but goes largely uncontested in terms of the law.
Fast Facts about These Cases:
The Parties have reached settlement. On January 25, 2016, the Court issued an Order Granting Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement and Certification of Settlement Class [#67]. The Order is posted below. There will be a final approval hearing on May 3, 2016. The Order is posted below, with the Settlement Agreement and Notice to the Class.
Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement [#74] on March 29, 2016. That motion is posted below.
The Final Hearing was held on May 3, 2016. The Court approved the Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement. The Final Order is posted below.