A lawsuit claiming that Beyoncé’s website is not accessible to the blind has gotten lots of coverage*, but the real news of importance to business is that the plaintiff – Mary Conner – has filed more than 20 similar suits in the last twelve months. She claims to be a passionate Beyoncé fan who wanted to buy a special hoodie, just as she has claimed to be a passionate Rihanna fan who wanted to buy a Rihanna hoodie, and as she claimed to want a Christmas tree from Christmascentral.com, and wanted some Honey Barbeque Jerky from Chefscutrealjerky.com, and wanted to book a workout at Barre3.com, and wanted to buy shoes from Marc Fisher footwear and so forth and so on. She’s such an enthusiast for Spanish food that she was anxious to get menu information about a restaurant in Washington D.C. even though she lives in New York. And the concern that has lead her to file so many lawsuits is so intense that she doesn’t use the same gender in the various complaints, sometimes referring to herself as a “he” and sometimes as a “her.” More
ADA – serial litigation
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Web Access Tags: ADA defense, ADA internet litigation, ADA website accessibility, ADA Website Litigation, Griffin v Credit Union
Griffin v. Dept. of Lab. Fed. Credit Union, 18-1312, 2019 WL 80704 (4th Cir. Jan. 3, 2019), decided earlier today, the Fourth Circuit gave the defendant credit union a victory that on its face is meaningful only for credit unions and other membership organizations. However, although its conclusive denial of standing for the plaintiff was stated in the narrowest terms, the reasoning implies a view of standing with much broader implications. Standing requires that a plaintiff have have suffered a past injury that was concrete and particularized, and face the imminent threat of future harm. The Court concluded Griffen met none of these requirements because he was ineligible as a matter of law to use the services of the defendant credit union. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA - Standing, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Class Actions, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Litigation Procedure, ADA Mootness, ADA Web Access, FHA, FHA design/build litigation Tags: ADA defense, FHA Defense, Lyft, Ride Sharing ADA, uber
There is only one prediction that can be made with complete certainty about ADA and FHA litigation in 2019: Lawyers will continue to make money exploiting these laws for profit in the name of accessibility. The number of lawsuits continues to climb, and with Congress and regulators unwilling to do anything this exploitation will continue. However, before we face the new challenges of a new year it is time for a final look backward at the recent decisions concerning accessibility for the disabled.
Standing in website accessibility cases.
Price v. Orlando Health, Inc., 2018 WL 6434519, at *4 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 7, 2018) shows just how important theories about why the ADA covers websites can be to standing in such cases. Courts in the 11th Circuit have adopted the theory that a website is covered by the ADA only if it has a nexus to a physical public accommodation. Because this relationship is required, the ADA injury giving rise to standing must be some inability to use the physical accommodation. The plaintiff in this case had no plausible intent to use the defendant’s facilities so he could not establish an ADA injury and did not have standing to sue. This is one of many reasons there is a widening gap between the Circuits with respect to how website cases can be effectively defended. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA Attorney's Fees, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Mootness, ADA Policies Tags: ADA defense, ADA Internet, ADA web access, ADA website, bull market, CUNA, drive-by lawsuits, unruh act, Usablenet, WCAG 2.0
The financial markets are bouncing around like ping pong balls, but there is one financial indicator that is only going up. For website accessibility litigation we have a bull market and no sign of a recession. Based on federal filings alone the number of website accessibility cases almost tripled in 2018, increasing by 181%*. For ordinary serial ADA litigation based on parking and restrooms the market is flat and the cases confirm the general lack of consistent standards across circuits and between judges – know your court is the rule with respect to every strategic decision. The fake service animal businesses online continue to outrage businesses but without much resulting litigation. A few notable serial filing lawyers have gotten trouble, but the 181% increase in federally filed** web access cases has created both the most serious threat to businesses and the most interesting legal developments in Title III litigation. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA - drive-by litigation, ADA - serial litigation, ADA Attorney's Fees, FHA, FHA design/build litigation, FHA renovation, First Fix Then Fight Tags: ADA defense, Cyber Monday, FHA Defense
That’s right, it’s Cyber Monday. Interestingly enough there have been no ADA web access decisions since my last Quick Hits blog, but there are still a few developments of interest.
The long road from an interesting partial victory to a final settlement.
I blogged about States v. Mid-America Apartment Comms., Inc., 247 F. Supp. 3d 30, 36 (D.D.C. Mar. 27, 2017) last year.* The case was interesting because the defendant got a preliminary ruling suggesting that a certificate of occupancy based on a building code that incorporated FHA standards could be a defense to a claim under 28 USC §3604(f)(3)(C) for failure to properly design and construct multi-family housing. The potential for this defense was recognized in Miami Valley Fair Hous. Ctr., Inc. v. Preferred Living Real Est. Investments, LLC, 2018 WL 4690790, at *8 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 28, 2018) but found premature in a summary judgment context. Then, on November 21 of this year the Department of Justice announced a multi-million dollar settlement with Mid-America. I was interested in what happened between the 2017 ruling and the 2018 settlement, so I reviewed the case file to see if anything of interest to other defendants might appear. More