Disability, Accessibility & Liability
What an Architect Should Know
Jean A. Weil, Esq.
Anthony D. Platt, Esq.
Weil & Drage, APC
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became effective, aimed at prohibiting both discrimination against the disabled and their exclusion from full participation in society. Those who own, operate, maintain and control public and private places of public accommodation must comply with the ADA.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) overlaps with the ADA since these two acts are aimed at eliminating discrimination within the built environment. Architects can be sued for ADA or FHA violations in a multitude of ways—all relating to their design of one or more projects. Often members of the design team are pressured into minimizing the scope and cost of compliance, or worse, their recommendations are circumvented.
Through two case studies, this paper explores the pitfalls and preventative measures that architects should keep in mind to avoid a lawsuit—and what they should do if, despite their best efforts, they are still dragged into such a case. It is imperative that architects make themselves aware of the potential legal implications of their involvement in projects governed by the ADA and FHA, and take all reasonable steps to protect themselves.
Jean Weil is one of the founding partners of Weil & Drage, APC and has been a construction litigation specialist since 1987, representing some of the top design professional firms worldwide. She specializes in representing architects and engineers and has also represented developers, manufacturers, and contractors. Jean has worked in literally every aspect of construction litigation, dealing closely with clients and insurance carrier representatives. She is highly regarded for her seminars on the subject of risk management, which she conducts across the country.
Anthony D. Platt, Esq., is an Associate at Weil & Drage, APC and focuses his practice primarily on the representation of design professionals in a wide array of actions including complex construction defect matters. He is admitted to practice in both California and Nevada and an author of appellate briefs, a risk management course for design professionals, as well as a contributing author of several guides on construction contracts and claims.