March 13, 2014

Obtained Summary Judgment Victory for Retail Client

Payne & Fears LLP obtained an order granting summary judgment in favor of its client, a nationwide retail department store, in a public accommodations lawsuit alleging claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California Disabled Persons Act, and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Under California law, prevailing plaintiffs in public accommodations cases can obtain injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees, as well as actual, punitive and statutory damages. This has given rise to a cottage industry of “professional plaintiffs” with sue-and-settle tactics that have been largely effective. While many businesses choose to settle these cases early given the high stakes, Payne & Fears’ client chose to fight back with an aggressive defense. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California found that plaintiff’s claim of access barriers was without merit and that plaintiff was not denied public accommodation on the basis of his disability. Leila Narvid and Emily J. Schultz handled the defense of this case.