Kohler v. Bed Bath & Beyond

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: 03-24-2015
  • Case #: 12-56520; 12-56771
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the Court; Circuit Judge Reinhardt and Senior District Judge Motz
  • Full Text Opinion

A tenant store of a shopping center is not responsible for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act that exist in common areas controlled by the landlord.

Chris Kohler, is paraplegic and uses a wheelchair to move in public. After visiting Bed Bath & Beyond (“BB&B”), in the Lake Elsinore Marketplace in California, Kohler brought a claim for ten separate violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The district court granted BB&B’s motion for summary judgment, awarding BB&B attorneys’ fees. Kohler appealed summary judgment on the claims that dealt with the clearance around the restroom doors and the slopes in the shopping center’s parking lot. The Ninth Circuit found that as a matter of law the Guidelines of the ADA do not require a specific amount of clearance around restroom doors. Additionally, the panel held that a claim may be brought against the landlord of a shopping center for violations of the ADA that exist in common areas, but a claim may not be brought against a tenant for violations that exist in areas that are controlled by the landlord. The panel reversed the award of attorneys’ fees to BB&B, because the panel did not believe that Kohler acted frivolously bring his claims. The panel added that just because his claims were not resolved by previous caselaw, and he did not prevail in earlier claims, does not necessarily make the claim frivolous. AFFIRMED in part and REVERSED in part.

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