Synopsis: SCOTUS denies serial plaintiff’s attempt to dismiss her case and avoid the court’s consideration of a critical legal issue in ADA Title III lawsuits – tester standing.
As we reported several weeks ago, serial plaintiff Deborah Laufer tried to evade the U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) consideration of a very important legal issue —the standing of testers — by dismissing her case in the district court and then asking SCOTUS to dismiss her case as moot. She claimed that she was dismissing all of her pending ADA Title III lawsuits because she did not want the allegations of misconduct against her prior counsel, Tristan Gillespie, to “distract from the merits of her ADA claims and everything she has sought to achieve for persons with disabilities like herself.”
Acheson Hotels, the Petitioner in the SCOTUS proceeding, vigorously opposed the dismissal request, arguing that Laufer was “abandoning her case to pave the way for Laufer and similar plaintiffs to resume their campaign of extortionate ADA suits against unwitting small businesses without the hindrance of an adverse ruling from this Court.” Acheson’s brief further argued that the “Court should not reward Laufer’s effort to insulate lower-court rulings upholding ‘tester’ standing from Supreme Court review.”
Just yesterday, SCOTUS issued the following Order: “The respondent’s request that the Court dismiss the case as moot at this time is denied. The question of mootness will be subject to further consideration at oral argument in addition to the question presented.”
In short, it seems SCOTUS may well consider the very important question presented by this case: Whether a self-appointed Americans with Disabilities Act “tester” has Article III standing to challenge a place of public accommodation’s failure to provide disability accessibility information on its website, even if she lacks any intention of visiting that place of public accommodation. Laufer had to move forward with filing her brief on the merits on August 2, 2023 and the matter is now fully briefed.
Oral argument is set for October 4, 2023.