Main content

Just the Facts: Americans with Disabilities Act

While overall civil rights cases have declined, cases brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have increased three-fold in recent years. Filings in three states – California, Florida, and New York – account for a significant number of the civil rights cases filed under the ADA. You can find out more in this new installment of Just the Facts, a feature by the Judiciary Data and Analysis Office of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) that illuminates the work of the federal Judiciary through data. Comments, questions, and suggestions can be sent to the data team.


The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in areas of public life, including employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990.

In 2005, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts began publishing statistics on civil cases filed under the ADA in the U.S. district courts.  ADA cases constitute a subcategory of civil rights cases on the civil docket. The AO’s ADA statistics are separated into cases raising employment discrimination claims and cases raising other claims under the ADA.  Most of the other ADA claims involve public accommodation matters.

Complaints asserting a violation of the ADA are often filed in federal district courts, although state courts also have jurisdiction to hear such cases. The decision of any district court can be appealed to a circuit court of appeals, and a decision by the circuit court can be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. This report examines ADA cases in the district courts.

Facts and Figures:

Table 1. ADA and Total Civil Filings and Percentages by State, Calendar Year 2017

State ADA Filings Percent
ADA Filings
Total Civil Filings Percent Total
Civil Filings
California 2,933 27% 28,551 10%
Florida 1,614 15% 19,098 7%
New York 1,265 12% 22,258 8%
Rest of U.S. 4,961 46% 205,640 75%

The large concentration of lawsuits in three states has been attributed to a variety of factors, according to professional journals and news outlets.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Map 1

Source: Table C2, 12-Month Periods Ending December 31, 2007 through 2017, Aggregated by State.

Map 2

Source: Table C2, 12-Month Periods Ending December 31, 2007 through 2017, Aggregated by State.


1. Johnson, Denise (2016, October 7). Why Claims Under Americans with Disabilities Act Are Rising. Insurance journal. Retrieved from; and Cooper, Anderson (2016, December 4). What’s a “Drive-By Lawsuit”? CBS News, 60 Minutes. Retrieved from:

2. Florida House Bill 727 summary,

3. Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York et al v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-02990.

4. Moon, Nathan; Kaplan, Shelley; Weiss, Sally (2010, May/June). ABA Business Law Section. Baby Boomers Are Turning Grey. Retrieved from:

5. Hale, Nathan (2017, June 14). Law360 (LexisNexis Company). Winn-Dixie Loses ADA Fight Over Website Accessibility. Retrieved from: