March 30, 2021

Munger, Tolles & Olson Supports Precedent-Setting Appellate Ruling That “Certification” of Service Dogs Is Not Required Under Law

Munger, Tolles & Olson represented amici alongside the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Derby, McGuiness & Goldsmith LLP and the Disability Rights Legal Center, representing Appellant, in winning a precedent-setting appellate victory in a lawsuit challenging the Del Amo Hospital National Treatment Center’s decision to deny the admission of a psychiatric service dog.

The lawsuit alleged that the Del Amo Hospital violated Title III of the ADA and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act by denying the Plaintiff’s service dog admission into the hospital. The district court had erroneously ruled for the hospital on the basis that Plaintiff’s dog was not a service animal because it had not been formally “certified” as such.

On March 30, 2021, the Ninth Circuit ruled that formal certification is not required of service dogs, overturning the district court judgment. This unanimous ruling is the first appellate court decision in the Unites States that addresses certification requirements for service dogs. Unless appealed further, the case will return to the district court for further proceedings.

You can read more about the matter in this press release published by Disability Rights Legal Center.

The Munger, Tolles & Olson team that handled this case includes Gina Elliott, Adam Lawton, and Joe Lee.