Our firm assists clients in defending against Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”) claims, and most recently in a very similar case in the Second District of New York. The trend is incredibly disturbing––not because disabled people should have access to business websites––but the lack of clarity provided by the ADA regarding websites. Because the federal courts are divided, questions remain, including: whether the ADA is applicable to a given business’s website? and what standards a given business must follow to ensure its website is ADA-compliant? Even worse, the overwhelming percentage of the lawsuit are being brought by a small group of law firms, which appear to be motivated to make this area their road to riches. Having dealt with such plaintiff firms in these lawsuits, there seems to be little desire to actually solve or improve business websites for the benefit of legally disabled consumers. The issue has raised such concern that insurance companies now include specific policies for website compliance.
Many business groups were hoping the United States Supreme Court would review the Ninth Circuit case of Robles v. Domino’s Pizza LLC, which held the Court had jurisdiction to determine if Domino’s Pizza website and mobile apps were ADA compliant. While the Court acknowledged there are no federal guidelines or legally recognized standards, the Court determined the privately created Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 exist and can be applied to determine if a business’s digital content is compatible. The Supreme Court declined to review the Ninth Circuit case, which leaves a growing conflict between various Federal Circuits as to applicability.
We will continue to monitor these cases and help advise clients on how best to avoid or defend such litigation.