Touchscreen point-of-sale devices are ubiquitous, and the next wave of ADA lawsuits will undoubtedly be against businesses that use them. This is easy to predict because on April 10 the DOJ filed a “Statement of Interest” supporting the claims of the plaintiff in New v. Lucky Brand Dungarees Stores, Inc. (Case No. 14-CV-20574 in the Southern District of Florida). New has filed several lawsuits making essentially the same claim; that is, that a touch screen point of sale device violates the ADA because a blind user cannot input his or her PIN when using a debit card. Unlike a traditional keypad, the touchscreen has no tactile clues as to where to push for the PIN numbers, forcing a blind person to rely on the sales clerk or a third party to input the PIN. This, of course, compromises the security of the debit card. More
By richardhunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA FHA Litigation General, Retail, Shopping Centers Tags: ada litigation, ada violation, FHA Litigation, private lawsuits, private litigants, retail
On September 30 the District Court for the Eastern District of California denied in part and granted in part a defense motion for summary judgment concerning ADA compliance in the mens restroom at a Bed Bath & Beyond. Feezor v. Excel Stockton LLC, 2013 WL 5486831 (E.D.Cal. 2013). In a 5300 word opinion the Court mentions only once the general rule that a facility should be accessible to and usable by those with disabilities. The rest of the opinion discusses a purely technical interpretation of the Guidelines and Standards that never asks the question: “does this really matter to a person with a disability.”
The longest part of the discussion concerns the portions of the Guidelines and Standards describing the required clear floor area on the pull side of a swinging door. As presented to the Court, it appears the dispute centered on the significance of a “thick solid black line” in the drawings illustrating the clear floor space requirement. Id. at *4. The plaintiff contended that the line represented a wall, and that the inclusion of the wall in the drawing meant that a wall with a minimum length was required. The defendant disagreed. The Court dug into the language of the Guidelines and Standards, prior case law, and the alleged colloquial meaning of the word “strikeside” before concluding that the “thick solid black line” was not intended to indicate that a wall was required. More
95% of the ADA lawsuits filed in Texas and elsewhere seem to start with barriers to access in the parking lot. It isn’t hard to understand why. Before the effective date and for many years afterwards business owners believed that a ramp up to the existing curb next to a marked parking spot was all the law required. The picture at left shows the typical ramp that resulted. I recently visited a client site and between the highway exit ramp and the his location I noticed more than a dozen strip shopping centers and small businesses with precisely this “solution” to the problem of accessible parking.
By richardhunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA, ADA FHA Litigation General, Retail, Shopping Centers Tags: ada litigation, ADA standing, FHA Litigation, private lawsuits, private litigants, retail
“Don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes” was William Prescott’s famous advice to the colonial soldiers defending Bunker Hill, and that kind of patience can be important to ADA defendants as well. Property owners and operators sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act always face a strategic choice: Should they simply remediate and settle, or should they attack the plaintiff’s standing to bring the lawsuit, which is frequently dubious at best. In most cases remediation and settlement is the best choice because the cost of defending the lawsuit and winning is more than the cost of remediation. Sometimes, though, a plaintiff just won’t settle. He or she may insist on work that the ADA doesn’t require or attorneys’ fees that are too high for the settlement to be reasonable. When that happens, and a legal battle is inevitable, choosing the right strategy is the key to minimizing expense while achieving a good outcome. A California case, Feezor v Patterson, 896 F.Supp.2d 895 (E.D.Cal. 2012) shows how patience worked to the defendant’s advantage and lead to a complete win without unnecessary expense. More
Starbucks has a long history of litigation about the height of its pickup counters. In 2003 Starbucks settled a claim by a California disabilities rights group concerning the height of its pickup counters. In 2011 Starbucks obtained the dismissal of another pickup counter height lawsuit, Chapman v. Starbucks, 2011 WL 66823 (E.D.Cal. 1022) based on mootness. The counter had been lowered to comply with the ADA requirements. In 2012 Starbucks settled a case that included counter height allegations in the Southern District of Florida. Access 4 All, Inc. v. Starbucks, Case No. 0:11-cv-61010 (S.D. Fla.). The settlement terms do not appear in the record, but most ADA settlements include remediation plus attorney’s fees, so it is a reasonable guess that Starbucks had to lower the counters in the 4 stores at issue. Just a few days ago, on June 5, 2013, a different District Court awarded Robert Cruz some $145,960.07 in attorney’s fees for his successful action against Starbucks concerning one Starbucks store. The Consent Decree in that case called for lowering the pickup counter. Cruz v. Starbucks Corporation, 2013 WL 2447862 (N.D. Cal. 2013) and see Docket 29-1 in the underlying case, 3:10-cv-01868. More