In a decision issued on April 20, Judge Arthur Schwab of the Western District of Pennsylvania makes it clear that every potential defendant who was sent one of the Carlson Lynch firm’s ADA Internet demand letters will end up in his court, and will have little choice but to settle. Since Carlson Lynch apparently sent hundreds of letters, Judge Schwab has effectively seized control of hundreds of cases that have not yet been filed. Sipe v. Am. Casino & Entm’t Properties, LLC, 2016 WL 1580349 (W.D. Pa. Apr. 20, 2016). More
On February 9 Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson issued a 45 page decision denying a Motion to Dismiss in National Association of the Deaf v. Harvard University, Case No. 3:15-cv-30023-MGM in the District of Massachusetts. This is not the place for a detailed analysis of the opinion, but for ordinary businesses there is quite a bit less to this than some sources suggest.
The first statute discussed in Magistrate Robertson’s opinion is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This statute applies to programs or activities receiving federal assistance. While federal assistance programs are pervasive, the vast majority of businesses are not subject to Section 504, and so the arguments concerning its application don’t apply at all. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA Internet, ADA Internet Web, ADA Web Access, Internet, Internet Accessibility Tags: ADA Internet, ada litigation, Carlson Lynch, WCAG 2.0, Web access
I hate scare mongering lawyers, but it looks like the risk that a business will be sued under the ADA based on web accessibility has dramatically increased over the last few months. Web access lawsuits may be one of the most important kinds of ADA litigation in 2016. This is not because of any change in the law, which remains largely unchanged and undeveloped. It is instead because of a change in plaintiff’s lawyers. Since this summer Carlson Lynch Sweet & Kipela, a Pennsylvania law firm with a very active ADA litigation practice, has filed at least eleven new lawsuits alleging ADA violations based on web accessibility. The defendants are primarily national retailers or restauranteurs: Footlocker, Sears, Toys-R-Us, Brooks Brothers, Pep Boys, and Hard Rock Cafe among others. Following these lawsuits Carlson Lynch has apparently sent dozens, if not hundreds of demand letters to retailers all over the country offering to settle supposed ADA web access claims. My clients in different states have received such letters, and I’m sure they are only a small sampling of the total sent. It remains to be seen how aggressively Carlson Lynch will follow up these demand letters, but they will certainly serve as an example to other law firms who represent ADA plaintiffs, so a wave of such demands and possibly lawsuits can be expected. More
The Department of Justice has once again delayed regulations that would purport to set standards for web accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is not the first time DOJ has kicked the can a little further down the road with respect to web access regulations. The proposed regulations have been floating around since 2010 with no sign of when they might be finalized. Some lawyers fret about how the delay will affect businesses (see, Justice Department Delays Web Accessibility Regulations For At Least Three More Years, Leaving Businesses in Turmoil) while disability rights advocates continue to assert that, despite the language of the ADA, it does require accessible web sites (See, Fall 2015 Update: More Delay for DOJ Web Regulations). What’s a business to do? The answer is simple – find a web developer. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA Internet Web, ADA regulations, DOJ, Internet Tags: ada litigation, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Speech, internet, private lawsuits, World Wide Web
On June 26 the Department of Justice announced that it had filed Statements of Interest in two lawsuits concerning access to online content. The suits were filed against Harvard (National Ass’n of the Deaf v. Harvard University et al, Case No. 3:15-cv-30023 in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts) and M.I.T. (National Ass’n of the Deaf v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Case No. 3:15-cv-300024 in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts). Both Statements of Interest make the same claim; that is, that all online content must be accessible to those with disabilities if offered by a “public accommodation.” The phrase “public accommodation” as defined in the statute includes any “place of education.” More