After years of steady increases, federal litigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has fallen in 2022.
Cases filed under the Nature of Suit codes for ADA-related matters peaked in 2021 with 15,221 such cases filed. But last year saw a substantial decrease to 11,728 cases, or a decline of 29 percent, according to Docket Alarm analytics.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, signed in 1990, is one of the most consequential statutes signed in recent decades. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an agency that oversees allegations made under the employment provisions of the ADA, resolved 22,783 charges in FY 2021. The agency has resolved no less than 16,000 charges in any particular year since 1997.
In the federal courts, ADA cases are split between two case types – cases brought under the employment provisions of the law, and everything else. 81 percent of the cases in 2022 are filed under the “ADA – Other” case type.
In 2021, the top-filing law firm for ADA claims across both types was the Center for Disability Access. That firm filed over 3,000 lawsuits that year, but in 2022 they filed only 418. The Center’s litigation activity plummeted after it and its parent firm were sued by prosecutors in San Fransisco in April 2022.
The case alleged that the firm is circumventing California’s legislative restrictions on state law disabilities litigation by maneuvering the cases into federal court. The complaint was dismissed in August 2022 but an appeal remains pending.
The Center’s top spot was instead taken by SO Cal Equal Access Group, another Los Angeles-based firm. Runner up is the law firm Mizrahi Kroub, based in New York.
Geographically, 2022’s cases were vastly concentrated in the Southern District of New York. 48 cases per 100,000 people were filed in that district. Per capita, California remains a popular jurisdiction, and is joined by Florida, Pennsylvania, and Missouri.
The decline of the Center for Disability Access – and the rise of firms like Mizrahi Kroub – could signal a broader shift. In addition to declining overall, 2022 has seen a change in where the cases are filed. In 2021, two California federal judicial districts saw the most cases; the Northern and Central districts saw over 3,000 cases each. In 2022, the Southern District of New York saw the most cases, with 2,584; the California courts had under 2,000.