November 3, 2023


Several years ago a national retailer became concerned with an increase in shoplifting, break-ins, and “smash and grab” crimes in the vicinity of its Sacramento, California location. It hired a third-party private security service to patrol the store’s parking lot in a marked vehicle. Shortly thereafter, the store manager noted that the marked patrol vehicles were “standing” in the accessible parking spaces. The store manager instructed the third-party security provider to keep clear of the accessible spaces.

One month later, a disabled individual filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Sacramento against the retailer claiming that the retailer had denied him equal access to public accommodations under the Americans with Disability Act (the “ADA”). Prior to the manager’s instruction to the third-party security service, the disabled individual had encountered accessible parking spaces occupied by the marked patrol vehicle on multiple occasions. The disabled individual sought injunctive relief under the ADA as well as his attorney fees and costs in the litigation.

The national retailer turned to its regular ADA counsel, Charles Valente and Heather Kuhn O’Toole, for a defense. After limited discovery, Charlie and Heather filed a motion for summary judgment which was fully briefed. Charlie flew to Sacramento to argue the matter before the federal court. The federal court agreed with his arguments and, recently, granted the motion for summary judgment.

The federal court held that, as a matter of undisputed fact and law, there was no violation of the ADA at the time that the disabled individual filed his lawsuit. The issue had been corrected prior to the lawsuit being filed and the alleged violation of the ADA was unlikely to recur. There was no need for injunctive relief. Accordingly, there was no reason for a trial and nothing for the federal court to enjoin. The lawsuit was moot.

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