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Supreme Court to hear lawsuit involving disability activist

The Supreme Court will decide whether a disabled activist can file disability rights lawsuits against hotels she doesn’t intend to visit.

The high court said Monday it would decide a case involving Deborah Laufer. Laufer, who lives in Florida, has filed over 600 federal lawsuits against hotel owners and operators, according to a Supreme Court filing.

Laufer has a vision impairment, uses a cane or wheelchair to get around, and has limited use of her hands, according to court documents. Her lawsuits contend that the websites of accommodations, generally small hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, are not clear enough about whether they are accessible to people with disabilities.

Under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act hotels must identify and describe their accessible features including guest rooms in sufficient detail.

Laufer’s lawsuits and lawsuits by other self-appointed “testers” have divided federal appeals courts. The question is whether Laufer and others have suffered an injury that gives them the ability to sue, called “standing.” Some courts have ruled that people who never intend to visit the accommodations they are challenging can nonetheless sue. Other courts have declined to allow the lawsuits.

The case the court agreed to hear involves the Coast Village Inn and Cottages in Wells, Maine. A federal trial court dismissed Laufer’s lawsuit alleging the hotel’s website contained insufficient information on disability accommodations. But a federal appeals court allowed the case to go forward.

The hotel currently has a notice at the top of its website that reads: “Please Note: Unfortunately, we do not have the capabilities to provide pet-friendly or ADA compliant lodging. We apologize for the inconvenience!”

Supreme Court rejects case of Oklahoma teen killed by police

The Supreme Court won’t hear a civil rights case brought by the parents of a teenager who was naked and unarmed when he was fatally shot by an Oklahoma police officer in 2019.

The high court on Monday rejected without comment the lawsuit bought by the parents of Isaiah Lewis. Police have said that the 17-year-old was shot after he broke into a home in Edmond and attacked two officers. They have said that a stun gun had no effect on him.

Lewis’ lawyers wrote that on the day he was shot he had inadvertently smoked marijuana laced with PCP. His parents argued that he was experiencing a mental health crisis and that police used excessive force.

An autopsy report found Lewis suffered a total of four gunshot wounds to his face, thighs and groin.

A federal trial court judge had allowed the lawsuit against the officer who shot Lewis to go forward, but a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver reversed that ruling. The Supreme Court’s decision not to take the case leaves the appeals court ruling in place.