Five park owners were recently sent summons and complaint documents in an apparent lawsuit over alleged ADA violations, and the plaintiff has never even been to their parks.
Maintaining compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 in the campground industry has been a balancing act. A high number of parks are not meeting the many codes and may be vulnerable to lawsuits that are virtually indefensible.
Certain plaintiffs have become aware of this, and it has spawned a cottage industry of “drive-by litigation.” The newest form of this attack on our industry does not even involve a drive by, but rather perusing your website.
Pennsylvania has seen five complaints and demand letters in the recent weeks which are alleging that the defendants are violating federal law by not accurately describing accommodations well enough for a potential guest to determine whether the facility can handle their particular disability. We recommend that you immediately review your website and accurately describe all amenities that are up to code and have your developer make certain that the site itself is ADA compliant.
In an article in Woodall’s Campground Management, Peter Pelland, CEO of Pelland Advertising, does an excellent job describing the issue with ADA compliance for business websites.To view the full article, visit https://www.woodallscm.com/blog/pelland-is-your-parks-website-ada-compliant.html.
Click here to download the summons and complaint (redacted of names) that were mentioned earlier in this article.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
- Your basic general liability policy does NOT provide coverage for defense or settlement of these claims. A directors and officers policy (D&O) or an EPLI policy with a third-party defense endorsement will provide coverage for defense costs. These policies will typically not cover settlement, costs to upgrade your park, or violation of a federal law, but they do provide defense costs.
- There is no grandfathering clause. This is a federal law, and state health departments do not inspect for ADA compliance.
- If you are sued, you could possibly lose in court or end up paying out-of-pocket to settle. Your best defense is compliance or a plan to come into compliance. Would you rather pay $20,000 on upgrading and improving your park and website, or pay a lawyer and still need to upgrade and improve?
For further information regarding this topic, contact Leavitt Recreation & Hospitality Insurance at 800.525.2060 or visit https://www.leavitt.com/lrh/.