SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND

THE AMERICAN HOSPITALITY INN

DJ # 202-61-103


 

FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND INVESTIGATION

1.   This Settlement Agreement (Agreement) is made and entered into between the United States of America (United States) and the American Hospitality Inn (also known as the “Sixth Avenue Motel”), which is owned and operated by the American Hospitality Inn, LLC (hereinafter “American Hospitality Inn”). This Agreement resolves an investigation of the American Hospitality Inn conducted by the United State’s Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon (U.S. Attorney’s Office) under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189 and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 36. The United States initiated this investigation after receiving a complaint from a citizen (Complainant) on February 23, 2009, alleging that the American Hospitality Inn discriminated against people with disabilities by denying equal access to its hotel for people who are blind.

2.   The Attorney General is authorized to, and did, investigate this complaint pursuant to the authority granted by title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(A) and 28 C.F.R. § 36.502. The Attorney General is authorized to enforce title III of the ADA by seeking damages and full compliance with title III’s provisions, including requiring the owners and operators of a place of pubic accommodation to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures. 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(a). The Attorney General may commence a civil action to enforce title III in any situation where the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that a pattern or practice of discrimination exists or a matter of general public importance is raised. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(a)(2); 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(B).

3.   The American Hospitality Inn is a place of lodging operated by American Hospitality Inn, LLC, a private entity whose operations affect commerce. It is thus a place of public accommodation within the meaning of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(A) and 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.

4.   The complaint alleges that the American Hospitality Inn failed to modify its policies to permit blind individuals to rent a room without displaying a driver’s license for the purpose of identification of the guest. Specifically, the Complainant, who is a person who is legally blind, states that on November 26, 2007, he attempted to check-in at the American Hospitality Inn to rent a room. The desk clerk asked to see a driver’s license. When the Complainant offered her other forms of ID, including an Oregon state issued identification card, and a Veteran’s Administration issued identification Card, she refused to accept them. Despite being informed by the Complainant that he was legally blind and could not drive, the clerk refused to accept anything other than a driver’s license as an acceptable form of identification and told the Complainant to leave. The Complainant left the premises and spent the night on the floor of the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center Volunteer Office.

5.   The investigation by the United States confirmed the accuracy of Complainant’s allegations. The investigation further revealed that the American Hospitality Inn did not have a specific written policy on acceptable forms of identification for guests, and did not have documentation of any training of its employees concerning compliance with title III of the ADA. Furthermore, the American Hospitality Inn did not maintain written policies concerning the right of individuals with disabilities to use service animals at the hotel.

6.   During the course of its investigation, the United States met with and interviewed the Complainant, interviewed the witness who dropped off the Complainant at the American Hospitality Inn on the date in question, reviewed a statement from the Complainant’s wife confirming a conversation she had with her husband the night of the incident, and received names and contact information for more than 25 members of the public who are willing to attest to the Complainant’s credibility for truthfulness and his outstanding reputation in the community. Furthermore, the United States reviewed and considered American Hospitality’s response to requests for information indicating that the Hotel’s employees denied the allegations of the complaint

7.   In the interest of resolving the incident that occurred with Complainant on November 27, 2009, and securing compliance with the ADA by voluntary means, the parties have agreed to resolve this matter as set forth without adjudication of any factual or legal disputes.

AGREEMENT

8.   The parties to this Agreement are the United States Department of Justice and the American Hospitality Inn (also known as the Sixth Avenue Hotel), an Oregon business.

9.   Pursuant to the ADA, the American Hospitality Inn agrees to ensure that persons with disabilities who do not possess a driver’s license are afforded the opportunity to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations equal to that afforded to other individuals as required by the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(1)(A)(ii) and 28 C.F.R. § 36.202(b). The American Hospitality Inn further agrees to modify its policies, practices and procedures to specifically permit other acceptable forms of identification for those with disabilities who are prevented from obtaining a driver’s license because of their disability. 28 C.F.R. § 36.302(a).

10.   Upon signing this Agreement, the American Hospitality Inn shall adopt the policy attached as Exhibit A to this Agreement. Furthermore, the American Hospitality Inn shall provide all training necessary to ensure that its employees know what forms of identification are acceptable from guests and the policy applicable to service animals.

11.   The American Hospitality Inn agrees to inform any other Hotels, Motels, or Inns that it owns, operators and/or manages that are listed in Exhibit B to make them aware of the issue with Complainant so they can also adopt lawful written policies regarding compliance with the ADA for guest identification and service animals, such as the policy attached as Exhibit A.

12.   Within 30 business days of the effective date of this Agreement, the American Hospitality Inn shall compensate the Complainant in this matter by sending a check for $1,000 one thousand dollars ($1,000) made payable to the Complainant and sent to the attention of Adrian L. Brown, United States Attorney’s Office, 1000 SW Third Avenue, Portland, OR 97204. A release, attached to this Agreement, will be executed and forwarded to the American Hospitality Inn upon receipt of that check and prior to forwarding it to the Complainant.

13.   In consideration of the above actions, the Department of Justice agrees to close the investigation of this complaint and to refrain from bringing a civil action against the American Hospitality Inn for violations of the ADA resulting from Complainant’s attempts to rent a room as specified herein, except as provided in paragraphs 14 and 15 of this Agreement.

ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AGREEMENT

14.   The Department of Justice may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department of Justice believes that the American Hospitality Inn is not in compliance with this Agreement or any requirement contained herein, the Department of Justice agrees to notify the American Hospitality Inn in writing of the alleged non-compliance. The American Hospitality Inn shall have thirty (30) days to respond to the Department regarding the alleged non-compliance, and the Parties will attempt in good faith to resolve the matter informally. If the Parties are unable to reach a resolution, the Department may seek appropriate relief from the United States District Court. If the Court determines that the American Hospitality Inn has violated the terms of this Agreement or the ADA, the American Hospitality shall be subject to all available remedies under the ADA. 15. Any failure of the Department of Justice to enforce this Agreement or any provision herein with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department of Justice’s right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement, and invalidation of any particular provision or portion of a provision shall not affect the validity of this Agreement, which shall continue to have full force and effect.

16.   The American Hospitality Inn and/or the Department of Justice shall provide a copy of this Agreement to any person or entity upon request.

17.   The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below. The agreement shall remain in effect until three years after its effective date.

18.   This Agreement shall be binding on the American Hospitality Inn and its agents and employees. In the event that the American Hospitality Inn seeks to transfer or assign all or part of its interest in the American Hospitality Inn, and the successor or assign intends on carrying on the same or similar use of the facility, as a condition of sale the American Hospitality Inn shall obtain the written accession of the successor or assign to any obligations remaining under this Agreement for the remaining term of the Agreement.

19.   This Agreement constitutes the entire Agreement between the Parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents or either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, shall be enforceable regarding the matters raised herein. This Agreement does not affect the American Hospitality Inn’s continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of title III of the ADA.

20.   The person(s) signing this Agreement on behalf of the American Hospitality Inn represents that they are authorized to bind the American Hospitality Inn to this Agreement.

21.   This agreement shall terminate after three years from the date of execution by all parties.

Signed:

For American Hospitality Inn:

________________________
PRATIMA K. PATEL,
Owner/Authorized Agent
American Hospitality Inn
Dated: _____________, 2010
__________________________
Brett S. Carson.
Casteel & Carson
Attorney for the American Hospitality Inn
Dated: _____________, 2010

For the United States:

____________________________
ADRIAN L. BROWN
Assistant U.S. Attorney

Dated: 9/10, 2010

 

RELEASE

For and in consideration of the acceptance of the relief offered to me by the American Hospitality Inn, pursuant to a Settlement Agreement between the United States of America and the American Hospitality Inn:

I, Frank Armstrong, release and discharge the American Hospitality Inn and its current, former, and future agents, employees, officials, and designees, of and from all legal and equitable claims known or unknown arising out of the facts described in paragraphs 4 through 6 above. I further agree that I will not exercise my right to institute, against the American Hospitality Inn, any civil action alleging discrimination on the basis of any of the facts alleged in my complaint.

I acknowledge that a copy of the Settlement Agreement between the American Hospitality Inn and the United States of America resolving the matter between them has been made available to me.

I HAVE READ THE RELEASE AND UNDERSTAND THE CONTENTS THEREOF AND I EXECUTE THIS RELEASE OF MY OWN FREE ACT AND DEED.

Signed this 9th day of September, 2010.

 

By: _________________________
FRANK ARMSTRONG

Exhibit A

POLICY REGARDING ACCEPTABLE GUEST IDENTIFICATION

AND SERVICE ANIMALS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

The American Hospitality Inn is committed to making reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, and procedures to accept various forms of acceptable guest identification and to permit the use of service animals by its customers with disabilities. Guests with disabilities may not legally be able to possess a driver’s license, so we must accept other forms of identification. Furthermore, service animals play an important role in ensuring the independence of people with disabilities, and it is therefore our policy to welcome into our hotel any animal that is individually trained to assist a person with a disability.

What is an acceptable form of guest identification?

While the American Hospitality Inn has a policy of confirming identification of its guests for both the hotel’s and guest’s safety, so long as the guest presents any state or federally issued form of identification, it is considered acceptable by the hotel. Examples of acceptable forms of identification include, but are not limited to, the following: any state issued driver’s license, any state issued identification card, any passport issued by the Department of State and, any United States Department of Defense or Veteran’s Affairs issued identification. A guest is not required to complete a guest registration form, but a copy of the acceptable form of identification can be made by the front desk so long as it is destroyed after check-out of the guest.

What is a Service Animal?

Service animals are individually trained to work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. Service animals are not always dogs; other animals may assist people with disabilities. Service animals come in all breeds and sizes, may be trained either by an organization or by an individual with a disability, and need not be certified or licensed. Service animals do not always have a harness, a sign, or a symbol indicating that they are service animals. A service animal is not a pet. Service animals assist people with disabilities in many different ways, such as:

Employee Requirements with Regard to Service Animals:

Most of the time, people with disabilities who use service animals may be easily identified without any need for questioning. If you can tell by looking, you should not make the guest feel unwelcome by asking questions. If you are unsure whether an animal meets the definition of a service animal, the hotel reservationist, and, where necessary, hotel management, may ask the guest the following questions at the point that the guest registers in the motel:

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
  2. What tasks or services has the animal been trained to perform?

You may not ask a customer questions about his or her disability. You may not ask a guest to show certification or a special ID card as proof of their animal’s training. You may not ask a guest with a service animal to use a specific entrance or exit in the hotel.

Once a guest with a service animal has answered questions posed by hotel registration staff, no employee may ask the guest any further questions about his or her service animal. You must permit service animals to accompany guests with disabilities to all areas of the hotel normally used by guests.

Since a service animal is not a pet, guests with disabilities may not be asked to pay any extra deposits, fees, or other charges because they are accompanied by service animals. Deposits, fees, or other charges that are normally required for pets do not apply to service animals.

In the event that a particular service animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, the American Hospitality Inn has the right to exclude the animal from its facility at that time, but may not refuse service to that individual with a disability when he or she is not accompanied by that particular service animal. A direct threat does not exist if the service animal’s owner takes prompt, effective action to control the animal. Moreover, the American Hospitality Inn will not exclude a particular service animal based on past experience with other animals or based on fear that is not related to a service animal’s actual behavior. Each situation will be considered individually.

Please handle any customer inquiries or complaints about this policy in accordance with our usual procedures by contacting________________________________________________.

Exhibit B

LIST OF PROPERTIES SUBJECT TO SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

The following properties are subject to this Settlement Agreement between the United States of America and the American Hospitality Inn as stated in paragraph 11 of the Agreement:

  1. The American Hospitality Inn (also known as the “Sixth Avenue Hotel), 2221 SW 6th Avenue, Portland, Oregon, 97201; and,
  2. The Westerner Motel, 4333 N. Interstate Avenue, Portland, Oregon, 97217


 

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November 18, 2010