Hotel owners have been facing a tide of Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits since a deadline to install pool lifts passed in early 2013, but attorneys say despite widespread installation of the lifts, litigation will continue as plaintiffs begin to target the nuances of compliance, such as proper operation and clear access.
Early confusion over the ADA mandate to install pool lifts forced extensions of previous deadlines and U.S. Department of Justice clarifications on the rule. But a year and a half past the Jan. 31, 2013, compliance deadline, confusion has dissipated and more lifts have been installed, according to attorneys. Experts now see a second round of litigation on the horizon focusing on the operability and accessibility of the lifts.
"If the pool is in operation, they cannot have the lift covered. It has to be fully operational and functional the whole time," said Kara M. Maciel, a labor and employment litigator with Epstein Becker Green.
Batteries, which are generally the source of power for these lifts, can also prove to be an opening for litigation if they're missing or not charged, requiring the help of someone to turn the lift on, according to attorneys.
Hotels have to be careful to make sure a visitor doesn't need any assistance to move or turn a lift on, which includes putting in batteries. To rely on a sign saying "please ask for assistance" risks violating the ADA, Maciel noted.
2010 - present
2010 - present