By Kevin Fritz
Seyfarth Synopsis:The Northern District of New York sees far fewer ADA Title III lawsuits than its Eastern and Southern counterparts and apparently has no patience for serial plaintiffs with flimsy boilerplate filings.
Judge Brenda Sannes of the Northern District of New York is apparently not going to let serial plaintiffs and their lawyers get judgments in their ADA Title III cases without doing some work. Case in point: Serial plaintiff Deborah Laufer filed at least 250 lawsuits since May 2019, 114 of which are in New York. In a number of recent cases filed in the Northern District of New York, Laufer alleges that places of lodging have reservation websites that do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act or state law.
To bring any type of lawsuit in federal court, a plaintiff must establish that she has suffered an injury which gives her standing to assert a claim. Because Title III of the ADA only allows private plaintiffs to seek forward-looking injunctive relief, plaintiffs must also establish that they face an imminent injury in the future.
In one recent decision, Judge Sannes sua sponte questioned whether Laufer had established standing to bring her lawsuit when Laufer requested a default judgment against the defendant hotel. The court ordered Laufer to submit a brief addressing the specific question of whether Laufer has standing to sue.
One day later — Judge Sannes issued another order for Laufer to establish that she has standing in 27 other virtually identical cases before Judge Sannes. Judge Sanne’s proactive and efficient handling of these many filings with a single sweeping order suggests that at least one judge in the Northern District of New York is not going to let serial ADA Title III plaintiffs overwhelm the court’s docket with boilerplate filings and will require plaintiffs’ attorneys to do some work on their cases.