Last fall, hundreds of lawsuits were filed in the Southern District of New York alleging that retailers and restaurants that failed to offer gift cards with Braille lettering for sale violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (see a Steptoe summary of this wave of complaints here).

Judge Woods recently decided the first two of these cases:  Dominguez v. Banana Republic and Murphy v. Kohl’s Department Stores.  In both cases, Judge Woods dismissed the complaints for lack of standing and failure to state a claim.  Judge Woods held that a Braille gift card is a specialty good that merchants are not required to stock under the ADA’s implementing regulations.  He further held that the ADA empowers retailers to choose which auxiliary aids they offer, rather than allowing customers to demand a particular aid.

The opinions also take issue with the duplicative “copy and paste” nature of these complaints, which lacked specific allegations sufficient to create standing.  In the Murphy opinion, Judge Woods found that the plaintiff had failed to allege an intent to return to the store where he was denied service.  The opinion notes that:
Continue Reading Judge Woods Tosses First Suits Claiming that ADA Requires Braille Gift Cards (Steptoe Success)

In an opinion today, Judge Woods concluded that sanctions were appropriate as against a plaintiff, referred to as ITM, that brought a claim without evidentiary support, even though the claim was eventually dropped.  ITM alleged that it incurred $350,000 in expenses advising the defendant about a certain corporate acquisition, but dropped the claim after discovery.   That didn’t solve the problem, as Judge Woods explained:
Continue Reading Judge Woods: Belatedly Withdrawing A Baseless Claim Does Not Insulate a Litigant from Sanctions

In a complaint filed earlier this week, a group of Broadway producers accused various Broadway casting companies of “band[ing] together to form a casting cartel, enlisting the help of the Teamsters to force Broadway producers to engage in collective negotiations.”  The Broadway League, representing the producers, notes that “the market for casting services is highly concentrated” but that “competition for casting services has been robust, forcing prices down.”  According to the complaint:
Continue Reading Broadway Producers Sue to Bust Broadway Casting “Cartel”

In an opinion Friday, Judge Woods dismissed a gender discrimination suit brought by a male Columbia student who was found “not responsible” for an alleged sexual assault, but who nonetheless alleged that the school discriminated against him by encouraging his accuser’s alleged campaign against him afterwards.  The accuser was awarded academic credit for a senior thesis known as the “Mattress Project,” in which she carried a mattress with her during her senior year as a protest for the school’s inaction.

Judge Woods noted at the outset that his role was “limited,” and would not involve “advocat[ing] for best practices or policies,” or even “decid[ing] whether Columbia treated Plaintiff fairly or unfairly.” (These statements quote from another case against Columbia before Judge Furman and covered here.)

Judge Woods dismissed the gender discrimination (Title IX) claims because they were premised on a “logical fallacy”:
Continue Reading Judge Woods Dismisses Gender Discrimination Suit Against Columbia for Supporting “Mattress Project” of Student Who Accused Plaintiff of Sexual Assault