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Case Name Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center v. Ashford Hospitality Trust DR-CA-0054
Docket / Court 4:15-cv-00216 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
Case Summary
On January 15, 2015, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), along with two individuals requiring wheelchairs for mobility, brought this class action against Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc., in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Ashford operated 15 ... read more >
On January 15, 2015, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), along with two individuals requiring wheelchairs for mobility, brought this class action against Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc., in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Ashford operated 15 hotels in California and others throughout the United States. In October 2014, the two plaintiffs had separately asked if the Courtyard Oakland Airport hotel and the Embassy Suites Walnut Creek hotel provided wheelchair-accessible shuttle services. Both locations informed the plaintiffs that they did not. The plaintiffs alleged that Ashford violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act by failing to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles at its hotels. The plaintiffs requested declaratory relief and a permanent injunction requiring Ashford to comply with state statutes and the ADA. The plaintiffs filed for class certification of individuals who rely on wheelchairs or scooters for mobility and have been or would be denied full and equal enjoyment of Ashford's services because of the lack of accessible transportation services at Ashford's hotels. The case was assigned to Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu.

On March 25, 2015, the plaintiffs filed to consolidate and/or relate this case to two other cases for pre-trial purposes, because the defendants were publicly traded real estate investment trusts that own and operate hotels in the U.S. and the plaintiff was similarly-situated and seeking class certification. The judge rejected the argument that these similarities warranted case consolidation, and denied this motion on May 6, 2015.

On August 27, CREEC filed a stipulated dismissal of all claims, with prejudice, of one of the plaintiffs. In an amended complaint filed on August 31, that plaintiff was removed and a new one was added.

Meanwhile the court had granted the defendant's request for private alternative dispute resolution and the parties began settlement discussions before Magistrate Judge James Larson. These proceedings concluded with a settlement agreement reached on October 2, 2015. On November 5, the plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion to certify the class and for preliminary approval of the settlement. The judge granted both motions on December 18, 2015.

The Settlement Agreement required all Ashford-owned and operated hotels to come into compliance with ADA regulations by providing hotels that offer transportation services with equivalent transportation services for people who used wheelchairs or scooters. The Agreement explicitly required that Ashford provide accurate information to potential hotel guests so that no guests would be erroneously deterred. Ashford agreed to pay fees and costs of monitoring and the agreement authorized class counsel to seek an award of attorney's fees.

The proposed Settlement Agreement was sent to hundreds of disability organizations as well as individuals who had communicated with CREEC about problems with Ashford's transportation. The plaintiffs sent class notice by email to 655 organizations and 43 individuals on December 21, 2015, and received no objections to the proposed settlement.

On March 22, 2016, the court approved the final certification of the settlement class. In a final judgment on March 29, 2016, the Court approved the Settlement and announced that it would retain continuing jurisdiction over the parties, the lawsuit, and the settlement for purposes of enforcing the settlement and resolving disputes under the Settlement Agreement. The case was closed.

Spencer Klein - 02/22/2015
Esther Vinarov - 10/29/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Reasonable Accommodation
Disability
Mobility impairment
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to public accommodations - privately owned
Disparate Treatment
Reasonable Accommodations
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 12111 et seq.
State law
Defendant(s) Ashford Hospitality Trust
Plaintiff Description Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center works to ensure that persons with disabilities participate in our nation's civic life without discrimination. The proposed class consists of individuals who use wheelchairs or scooters for mobility who have been, or will be, denied full equal enjoyment of defendant's hotels.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2015
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing DR-CA-0052 : Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center v. RLJ Lodging Trust (N.D. Cal.)
DR-CA-0053 : Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center v. Hospitality Properties Trust (N.D. Cal.)
DR-CO-0023 : Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center v. Sage Hospitality Resources LLC (D. Colo.)
Docket(s)
4:15-cv-00216 (N.D. Cal.)
DR-CA-0054-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/29/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint For Declaratory And Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
DR-CA-0054-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/15/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion to Consider Whether Cases Should be Related and/or Consolidated for Pre-Trial Purposes Only [ECF# 32]
DR-CA-0054-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/25/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and [Proposed] Order Selecting ADR Process [ECF# 41]
DR-CA-0054-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Ryu, Donna Miae Court not on record [Magistrate]
DR-CA-0054-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Benham-Baker, Hillary Jo (California)
DR-CA-0054-0001 | DR-CA-0054-9000
Campins, Julia (California)
DR-CA-0054-0001 | DR-CA-0054-0003 | DR-CA-0054-9000
Davidson, Joshua (California)
DR-CA-0054-0001 | DR-CA-0054-9000
Fox, Timothy Patrick (Colorado)
DR-CA-0054-0001 | DR-CA-0054-9000
Lam, Linda Pham (California)
DR-CA-0054-9000
Lee, Bill Lann (California)
DR-CA-0054-0001 | DR-CA-0054-9000
Morris, Sarah (Colorado)
DR-CA-0054-0001 | DR-CA-0054-0002 | DR-CA-0054-9000
Wilensky, Julie H. (California)
DR-CA-0054-0001 | DR-CA-0054-9000
Williams, Kevin William (Colorado)
DR-CA-0054-0001 | DR-CA-0054-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Armstrong, Nolan S. (California)
DR-CA-0054-0003 | DR-CA-0054-9000
Other Lawyers Malla, Steffanie Ann (California)
DR-CA-0054-9000
Raizman, David H. (California)
DR-CA-0054-9000

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