In Crawford v. Hinds County the plaintiff sued the county over the Hinds County Courthouse not being accessible to the disabled. Plaintiff sought damages and injunctive relief requiring the county to make all seven courtrooms and all bathrooms accessible.

Before trial, plaintiff rejected the county’s offer to renovate two courtrooms, one bathroom per floor and miscellaneous items.

A bench trial was held before U.S. District Judge Tom Lee on February 12-13, 2019.

The Court ruled on October 18, 2019. Here is the Memorandum Opinion.

Before trial, the County and Plaintiff settled Plaintiff’s damages claim. That left his claim for injunctive relief.

The Court revisited the standing issue Hinds County raised in its summary judgment motion and determined that Plaintiff lacked standing. The Court concluded:

The court does not doubt the sincerity of plaintiff’s interest in the County’s compliance with its obligation under the ADA to ensure that programs, services and activities it operates at the courthouse are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. However, as nothing in his actions suggests to the court that plaintiff had a genuine intent to return to the courthouse for any purpose, the court concludes that plaintiff lacks standing to obtain injunctive relief because he has not proven that he faces an immediate and real threat of future injury. Accordingly, it is ordered that plaintiff’s claim for injunctive relief is denied.

Andrew Bizer with Bizer & Dereus in New Orleans represented plaintiff.

Pieter Teeuwissen of Jackson and Will Allen of Brookhaven represented the county.

My Take:

Tough loss for the plaintiff. No one disputes that the courthouse (built in 1932) needs to be updated for persons with disabilities. But federal judges take jurisdiction and standing issues very serious.

Seems like plaintiff should have taken the offer for partial remediation, waited a while and then gotten someone else to sue for the rest later.