When Do I Have an ADA Case?
The 11th Circuit in a per curium opinion recently addressed the issue of when a case accrues under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)in Karantsalis v. City of Miami Springs, Fla., 20-11134 (11th Cir. Nov. 12, 2021). Mr. Karantsalis developed MS in 2008, and even though he could walk, run, hike and bike, he filed a lawsuit against the City of Miami Springs under the ADA. After talking with the County Attorney, he realized he did not yet have a case since there were no services he could not access, as his condition had not worsened to that point. He dismissed the lawsuit.
About ten years later he was much worse. He was eventually prescribed a wheelchair. He filed suit against the City on October 7, 2019, seeking damages and injunctive relief for violations of Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. He also alleged that he became injured in 2017– the year he saw a decrease in access to City services. The district court had problems with the earlier lawsuit, believing that the claim accrued in 2008. The district court instructed him to amend his complaint, reference the 2008 claim, and address the applicable statute of limitations. He did so and eventually, the district court dismissed his case with prejudice, finding that the statute of limitations ran in 2012.
The Eleventh Circuit saw the case differently and reversed it. “Here, for purposes of his ADA claim and taking all allegations as true, Karantsalis’s injury did not occur until at least 2017, when his mobility decreased to the level that he could no longer readily access and use the City’s public services because of its ADA non-compliant facilities. His ADA injury is the City’s denial of the benefits of its public services. Stated another way, Karantsalis could not have sued the City before he lost his mobility and his ready access to and use of the City’s public services.” Karantsalis v. City of Miami Springs, Fla., 20-11134, at *9-10 (11th Cir. Nov. 12, 2021).
The Court explained “ … our Circuit has held that Article III standing for injunctive relief in an ADA case requires “(1) injury-in-fact; (2) a causal connection between the asserted injury-in-fact and the challenged action of the defendant; and (3) that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.” Houston v. Marod Supermarkets, Inc., 733 F.3d 1323, 1328 (11th Cir. 2013), Karantsalis at *14. With the injury occurring in 2017 – the date when Karantsalis could not access City services — that is the date the claim accrued.
The Court noted that there was no statute of limitations in the ADA, so the Florida statute of limitations of the most analogous statute was adopted. That was a 4-year statute of limitation for personal injury actions. The lawsuit was timely, and the case was reinstated.