On March 22, 2016, Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted final approval to a class action settlement in CREEC et al. v. Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc. Ashford owns approximately 125 hotels located in 20 states. The lawsuit, brought by CREEC and two individuals with mobility disabilities who use wheelchairs, alleges that many hotels owned by Ashford provide transportation services to guests, but fail to provide equivalent wheelchair-accessible transportation services as required by the ADA and California state law.
As the Court noted in the final approval order, the settlement “provides a comprehensive scheme for injunctive relief, requiring all Ashford-owned and/or operated hotels to come into compliance with ADA regulations that require hotels that offer transportation services to provide transportation services to people who use wheelchairs or scooters.” The Court further noted that the agreement “sets forth what ‘compliance’ means, with specific attention to ensuring that any third party transportation providers utilized by Ashford hotels provide equivalent accessible transportation,” and that the agreement “explicitly requires that Ashford hotels provide accurate information to potential hotel guests so that no guests are erroneously deterred.” As a result of the settlement, all of the hotels owned by Ashford that provide transportation services to their guests will provide equivalent accessible services to guests who use wheelchairs or scooters. The accessible services will be equivalent in timing, notice, routes or geographic scope, fares, hours, reservations, and restrictions. The settlement provides for three years of monitoring of the hotels to ensure compliance.