Case Law Did Not Clearly Show Claims Were Without Foundation.
In Kohler v. Bed Bath & Beyond of California, Nos. 12-56520 et al. (9th Cir. Mar. 24, 2015) (published), a disabled plaintiff lost a summary judgment on certain American with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims. The district judge then granted the defense, as prevailing party, attorney’s fees of $59,892 under 42 U.S.C. § 12205—with the theory being that many of the claims were “without foundation.”
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment but reversed the fee award. In this one, the summary judgment was affirmed, but case law was not clear on the maneuvering space and tenant liability for ADA violation issues. Beyond that, another claim was moot and plaintiff was making a novel extension of a California requirement into the ADA guidelines area. The case did not involve frivolous claims, even though plaintiff did not ultimately prevail given that a “prevailing defendant” in ADA fee-shifting contexts must meet a higher burden in order to receive fee recovery.