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U.S. v. DAYS INNS OF AMERICA

March 16, 1998

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAYS INNS OF AMERICA, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Baker, Senior District Judge.

ORDER

Facts

The following facts are uncontested. HFS, Inc. is the parent company of Days Inns of America, Inc. Days Inns of America licenses the use of its trademark to over 1,700 hotels across the United States. Days Inns of America enters into license agreements with persons or entities who own and operate the individual Days Inn hotels. Days Inns of America provides to its licensees a national reservation system, service marks, marketing systems, franchise services, employee training assistance and other services. Licensees pay fees to Days Inns of America. Licensees are required to maintain certain minimum standards. The license agreement requires that the individual licensee obtain approval from Days Inns of America prior to commencement of construction of an individual hotel. Days Inns of America at times makes comments on individual hotel plans, and may address accessibility for disabled guests with individual hotels.

In order to ensure uniformity and consistency across the nation, Days Inns of America inspects individual hotels several times each year. Additionally, Days Inns of America provides operating manuals to its licensees, including the Planning and Design Standards Manual. The Days Inns of America Planning and Design Standards Manual reflects minimum standards. The Manual is used nationwide, and of course, does not contain individual blueprints for individual hotels. The Manual requires corporate approval of individual hotel plans to ascertain initial compliance with Days Inns of America standards. The Manual includes language assigning the burden of compliance with federal and state regulations to individual licensees.

In the instant case, Days Inns of America entered into a license agreement with Panchel & Patel Inc. for the construction of a Champaign, Illinois Days Inn hotel. Panchel & Patel hired an architect and oversaw construction of the hotel. Panchel & Patel submitted plans to Days Inns of America for review. At one point an HFS Design & Construction Manager reviewed the Champaign construction plans and made suggestions. There was an ongoing interactive relationship between HFS, Days Inns of America and Panchal & Patel during the design and construction of the Champaign Days Inn hotel.

Since its completion, the Champaign hotel has undergone several inspections by Days Inns of America. During these inspections, Days Inns of America checks for compliance in a variety of areas. Panchel & Patel are of course responsible for the day to day maintenance and operation of the hotel, but they are also regulated through their licensing agreement, by Days Inns of America.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The purpose of the ADA is to provide "a clear and comprehensive mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities." 42 U.S.C. § 12101(b)(1). The courts, in accordance with the mandates of Congress are to work to "end discrimination against individuals with disabilities and to bring persons with disabilities into the economic and social main-stream of American life; to provide enforceable standards addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and to ensure that the Federal government plays a central role in enforcing these standards on behalf of individuals with disabilities." A & P Comm. Print 1990(28A) (U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor Report)

The Congress found that "some 43,000,000 Americans have one or more physical or mental disabilities, and this number is increasing." A & P 136 Cong. Record D623. "Individuals with disabilities have been denied for so long, services, jobs, housing, transportation, hotel rooms . . ." A&P Comm. Print 1990(28B) (statement of Representative Jeffords). "Disabled people are frequently frustrated by the inaccessibility of hotel rooms. Very few rooms, even in new hotels are made fully accessible." A&P 136 Cong.Rec. D646 (statement of Representative Hayes). The ADA was enacted to address the discrimination against disabled Americans in all aspects of their lives, including eliminating discrimination in hotel accommodations.

Design and Construct

Congress' concern that all newly constructed hotels be accessible was codified in § 303 of the ADA:

  ยง 12183. New construction and alterations in public
  accommodation and ...

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