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June 26, 2020

Conn. hotels face lawsuits over website accessibility

A Florida woman who has filed hundreds of lawsuits across the country against hotels is now suing 11 establishments in Connecticut, claiming their websites aren’t fully accessible to the disabled. 

Deborah Laufer of Florida is vision impaired and needs the assistance of a wheelchair or cane to get around, according to court documents.

Laufer in recent weeks has filed 11 lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Connecticut against hotels, including most recently against Stratford Hotel Partners LLC, doing business as the Honeyspot Motor Inn in Stratford. 

The other litigation targets establishments in Fairfield, Windsor Locks, East Hartford, Greenwich and Norwalk.

Attorney L. Kay Wilson, who is representing Laufer for the Connecticut cases, said, “the purpose is to force companies to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

“The public accommodations rules are to make sure they are not only physically accessible, but their online reservation systems are compliant as well, so (individuals with disabilities) can book online like anyone else,” Wilson said.

Asked whether additional lawsuits will be filed against Connecticut lodging providers, Wilson said it depends on whether they find others which they believe aren’t in compliance with the ADA.

All the lawsuits are nearly identical in language, and indicate they are filed on Laufer’s behalf and “all other individuals similarly situated.”

The lawsuit alleges that Honeyspot’s website did not identify accessible rooms, did not allow for the booking of accessible rooms and provided insufficient information regarding what rooms or features are accessible. 

“By continuing to operate the websites with discriminatory conditions, the defendant contributes to the plaintiff’s sense of isolation and segregation,” it alleges.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief including an order for the hotel to revise its website to comply with the ADA, along with attorney costs.

No attorney is listed yet as representing the Honeyspot Motor Inn. 

Attorney Nicholas P. Vegliante of Hartford is representing another hotel, the Hotel Hi-Ho at 4180 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield, which Laufer sued back in April.

Vegliante has filed a motion to dismiss that case.

“The plaintiff does not have standing to bring this suit,” the motion asserts. “Title lll of the ADA requires that there be a threat of future harm. The plaintiff has not, and cannot, satisfy this burden. The plaintiff lives in Florida. She does not allege that she ever visited the defendant's hotel, nor does she allege she ever visited or plans to visit Connecticut.”

Attorney Rob Thorpe with the law firm of  Barclay Damon, addressed the hundreds of lawsuits in a recent blog post.

“Such a flurry of lawsuits against hotels and motels is particularly troubling during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Thorpe wrote, noting how most have had to shut down due to various stay at home orders. 

“We recommend that any hotel, motel, or other place of lodging that operates a website or mobile application immediately take steps to ensure its online reservation system is not only accessible to the blind and visually impaired, but that the information available on any online reservation system concerning accessible features of the property is otherwise compliant with federal, state, and local disability laws,” the post said.

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at

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