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Home / Opinion Digests / Civil Rights / Civil Rights – Constitutional – Standing – Injunctive Relief – Future Injury – Restaurant – Handicap Accessibility

Civil Rights – Constitutional – Standing – Injunctive Relief – Future Injury – Restaurant – Handicap Accessibility

Harty v. Luihn Four, Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-02-1081, 9 pp.) (Terrence W. Boyle, J.) E.D.N.C.

Holding: Plaintiff resides in Florida, 775 miles from defendant’s restaurant, and he has no definite plans to return to the restaurant. Plaintiff lacks standing to sue defendant for injunctive relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Defendant’s motion to dismiss is granted.

Plaintiff has failed to plead an “injury in fact.” When a plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, the “injury in fact” element of standing requires more than simply an allegation of defendant’s prior wrongful conduct. Standing to seek injunctive relief does not exist unless the plaintiff can show a substantial likelihood of future harm.

Plaintiff has failed to show a substantial likelihood that he will be injured in the future by defendant. Plaintiff lives in Broward County, Fla., 775 miles from defendant’s restaurant. Nothing indicates that plaintiff has ever visited the restaurant other than on one occasion in January 2010.

The complaint is devoid of definitive plans to return to the restaurant in the future. Plaintiff’s claims that he desires to visit the restaurant are merely “someday” intentions and, without any description of concrete plans, or even any speculation of when the someday will be, such allegations do not support a finding of actual or imminent injury.

The court does not question the sincerity of plaintiff’s vague desires to revisit the restaurant. However, where, as here, the objective facts and allegations presented in the complaint fail to establish a substantial likelihood of future injury, even plaintiff’s most earnest of desires cannot overcome the constitutional defect in his case.

Plaintiff has also failed to show a concrete or particularized injury that infringes on his constitutional right to travel. Until he can show that there is a substantial likelihood that his right to travel will be infringed in the future, he lacks standing to assert such a claim.

Plaintiff’s final argument is that the test for Article III standing for injunctive relief – as applied in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cases like his – violates the language of the ADA itself. Congress can properly extend standing to the limits of Article III of the Constitution, but those limits still remain and must be satisfied in every case.

Regardless of how broadly the language of the ADA sweeps, every plaintiff must allege an injury under Article III before a federal court can decide his case. Plaintiff has failed to allege an injury in fact under Article III. Plaintiff cannot seek refuge in the language of the ADA, when Article III restricts a federal court from hearing his grievance.


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