The sharp rise of website accessibility litigation and demands that impacted retail, fast-food, financial organizations, banks and education sectors in 2015 and 2016 has expanded to target the healthcare industry, including: hospitals, clinics, health insurance as well as related providers such as drug stores and optical stores.
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Financial Services Industry Targeted in Wave of Lawsuit Threats Over Websites Allegedly Inaccessible to the Visually Impaired
In a trend that began several years ago and has migrated through several industries, investment firms are among those being targeted by enterprising plaintiffs’ lawyers alleging that the firms’ website are inaccessible to blind or otherwise disabled users. The claim is that the firms are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Wall Street Journal ran a major story on November 1, 2016, describing the growing trend of lawsuits brought by a handful of plaintiff law firms representing blind individuals against hundreds of website operators including well-known names such as Foot Locker, Toys ‘R’ Us, Brooks Brothers and the NBA.
By Steven E. Helland & Karla L. Reyerson
Is your bank’s website accessible to the visually impaired? If it is not - or if you are not sure - now is the time to address this issue as businesses across the country are receiving demand letters and being made parties to legal claims for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
What's Behind E*TRADE Accessibility Initiative and Press Release? Disability Lawyers Target Financial Industry for ADA Claims
E*TRADE's recent press release reads as though E*TRADE simply discovered its inner, more-inclusive, corporate self "E*TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:ETFC) today announced an initiative to enhance its website, mobile applications, and desktop trading and investing platforms to make them more accessible for customers with disabilities."
Four Class Actions in 14 Days: Quick Serve, Fast Casual, Restaurant Industry Targeted for Alleged Inaccessible Websites
Between April 19 and May 3, 2016, Olive Garden, Domino's, Potbelly and Dean & Deluca were each named as a defendant in four separate but similar class action lawsuits. The suits, all brought by the Lee Litigation Group, allege that the defendants' improperly designed websites are inaccessible to blind users and violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as state and local laws.
In what appears to be the first court decision of its kind, a California state court held not only that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to websites, but also that in the case of ColoradoBaggage.com, the website design and features were sufficiently inaccessible to blind users (using screen reader technology) that the site owner violated ADA as well as the California Unruh Act and is liable for monetary damages and injunctive relief.
Three blind law school graduates just filed a federal class action lawsuit in Texas, alleging that BarBri, Inc., the leading bar exam test prep company, violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act by “maintaining barriers to the accessibility of its services for blind students who use talking screen reading software and failing to make reasonable accommodations or provide auxiliary aids or services.” See, Stanley V. BarBri, Inc.
Oklahoma-based pizzeria Mazzio’s Italian Eatery filed a preemptive “declaratory” lawsuit in federal district court against the Carlson Lynch law firm on February 2, 2016. Mazzio’s, LLC v. Carlson, Lynch, Sweet & Kilpela, LLC, N. Dist. Oklahoma, Case No. 16-cv-59-CVE-TLW.
Patagonia, Ace Hardware, Aeropostale, Bed Bath & Beyond and Estee Lauder are the most recent companies sued by blind plaintiffs, alleging that the retailers’ websites are not accessible to the blind as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In light of the uncertain state of the law, the following actions may reduce risk for website operators, even though such actions may not be legally required.