Cases of ADA Website Accessibility Compliance Lawsuits2019-03-13T09:17:55-05:00

2018. Bishop v. Amazon.com, Inc.

DefendantAmazon.com, an American eCommerce and cloud computing company.

Plaintiff: Cedric Bishop, a legally blind Amazon user.

Location: New York Southern District Court.

Claims:

  • Amazon’s website is inaccessible to the blind and visually impaired as it is not compatible with screen readers and refreshable Braille displays;
  • Amazon.com does not provide a text alternative for non-text content on its website. This blocks screen-reading software from presenting information to visually impaired users;
  • The website has no equivalent text for title frames and scripts, which makes visually impaired visitors incapable of navigating the site;
  • Amazon.com inaccessibility renders the claimant unable of accessing not only Amazon’s website, but also Whole Foods stores, as Whole Foods is a company recently acquired by Amazon.

Resolution: The claimant wanted Amazon to make its website conform to the ADA and WCAG requirements for it to be accessible to the visually impaired. He sought damages on behalf of himself and all similarly affected individuals. The case was dismissed after the parties reached a settlement agreement.

2018. Braulio Thorne v. Rolex Watch

DefendantRolex Watch U.S.A., a subsidiary of Rolex SA, a Swiss luxury watchmaker.

Plaintiff: Braulio Thorne, a visually impaired individual.

Location: New York Southern District Court.

Claims:

  • The website lacks alt-text, which prevents visually-impaired Rolex Watch U.S.A. customers from accessing the website, browsing, looking for store locations and hours of operation, checking out Rolex programs and specials, or making any purchases;
  • Empty links are present on the website that contain no text causing the function or purpose of the link to not be presented to the visually impaired user;
  • Redundant Links with nearby links leading to the same URL address which results in navigation issues for screen-reader users;
  • Linked images missing alt-text, which causes problems when a screen reader has no content to present the user, namely the purpose and the link’s destination.

Resolution: Braulio Thorne called for a permanent injunction against Rolex Watch for them to take all steps necessary for making its website fully accessible to visually impaired users. The claimant also sought for compensatory, statutory and punitive damages for violations of New York State Human Rights Law and Civil Rights Law, court costs and attorneys’ fees, all with pre- and post-judgment interest. The parties reached an ADA settlement agreement and the case was voluntarily dismissed.

2018. Luc Burbon v. Fox News Network

DefendantFox News Network, a United States cable and satellite television news channel owned by Fox Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox.

Plaintiff: Luc Burbon, a visually impaired individual.

Location: New York Southern District Court.

Claims:

  • The website design of Fox News Network does not conform to WCAG 2.0 requirements;
  • The barriers blocked the claimant from receiving goods and services available at Fox News physical locations in New York (Fox News hosts live broadcasts and tapings of shows that audience members can attend);
  • Fox News website lacks alternative text, contains linked images with no alt-text telling where the link leads. Empty or redundant links are present that hamper keyboard-based navigation and may cause confusion for visually impaired users.

Resolution: Claimant called for a permanent injunction against Fox News, requiring them to take all steps necessary to make its website fully accessible and conform to accessibility standards. Burbon also sought for compensatory, statutory and punitive damages for violations of New York State Human Rights Law and Civil Rights Law, court costs and attorneys’ fees, all with pre- and post-judgment interest. The parties reached a website ADA settlement agreement and the case was dismissed.

2018. Maria Mendizabal, et al. v. Burger King

DefendantBurger King, one of the largest chains of fast food restaurants.

Plaintiff: Maria Mendizabal, a visually impaired individual.

Location: New York Southern District Court.

Claims:

  • Website doesn’t provide full and unrestrained access for visually impaired people;
  • Each time the claimant visited the website, she encountered accessibility barriers that prevented from accessing information about goods and services accessible to the general public;
  • Specific accessibility barriers that blocked claimants access to the site were a lack of alt text or a text equivalent embedded into graphical images; empty links that cause confusion for users of screen-reading software; redundant links that cause navigation issues and repetition for users of screen-reading software; linked images without alt text to inform the user about the function of the link.

Resolution: Claimant called for a permanent injunction for Burger King to ensure its website accessibility. Case voluntarily dismissed, parties reached a settlement agreement.

2017 – 2018. Maria Mendizabal v. Nike Inc.

DefendantNike, an American multinational corporation focused on design and development of footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories, and providing various related services.

Plaintiff: Maria Mendizabal, a visually impaired individual.

Location: New York Southern District Court.

Claims:

  • Nike maintains two corporate websites, Nike.com and Converse.com, that fail to provide equal access for the blind and visually impaired as for normal users;
  • Nike does not conform to WCAG 2.0 requirements: their websites avoid using alt-text to provide text-equivalents for every element on a page. Without alt-text, screen reading software fails to correctly render non-text elements to visually impaired users;
  • Nike websites include empty links without text, redundant links that lead to the same pages as nearby links, images with links that have no alt-text.

Resolution: Claimant was seeking a permanent injunction forcing Nike to update its websites to conform to accessibility standards. Mendizabal was also seeking awards in damages, court costs, attorney fees and pre- & post-judgment interest. The case was dismissed as parties reached a settlement agreement.

Other ADA Website Accessibility Lawsuits Filed in 2018

There have also been several other similar cases of web accessibility lawsuits in 2018. As we’ve mentioned before, most cases end in being voluntarily dismissed, with parties reaching ADA website accessibility settlements. Here are some of the high-profile ones:

  • Sullivan v. CNN America, Inc. – case pending resolution;
  • Thorne v. Porsche Design of America Inc.;
  • Lopez v. The Hershey Company, Inc.;
  • Lopez v. Nintendo of America, Inc.;
  • Lopez v. Pandora Ecomm, LLC;
  • Duncan v. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.;
  • Camacho v. Bed Bath Beyond Inc.;
  • Sullivan v. Dow Jones Company, Inc.; (Deaf and hard-of-hearing case)
  • Duncan v. City National Bank;
  • Duncan v. Bank of China;
  • Duncan v. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China USA, National Association;
  • Bishop v. Signature Bank;
  • Marett v. Armel Tax and Accounting Services.

2017. Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.

DefendantWinn-Dixie Stores, Inc., American supermarket chain headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.

Plaintiff: Gil, a blind individual, who had been a customer of the grocery store and its pharmacy chain.

Location: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Claim: 90% of the tabs on the website were not accessible by screen reading software, and claimant couldn’t receive digital coupons, find stores’ locations using tools presented on the site, refill his prescriptions online for in-store pickup or delivery.

Resolution:

  • Court found that the store’s website and its features had strong ties to its physical locations and operated as a gateway to the services provided at those locations;
  • Court determined that Winn-Dixie Stores violated ADA government law by failing to ensure accessibility of its website and denying the plaintiff of his rights to full and equal access to goods and services provided for regular consumers;
  • Court issued an injunction that required Winn-Dixie Stores to make its website accessible to blind and visually impaired individuals and pay the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees resulting from the litigation.

2017. Kmart, McDonald’s, Grubhub, Empire Today

Defendants:

  • Kmart, American big box department store chain, headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois;
  • McDonald’s, one of the largest chains of fast food restaurants;
  • Grubhub, online and mobile food-ordering company that connects diners with local restaurants, based in Chicago;
  • Empire Today, Illinois-based home improvement and home furnishing company, specializing in installed carpet, flooring, and window treatments.

Plaintiffs: Confidential.

Location: Confidential.

Claims: Companies failed to provide accommodations for the visually impaired on their websites.

Resolution: ADA settlement agreement.

The exact terms are undisclosed, however, ADA website accessibility settlements required companies to update their online and mobile presence to better accommodate the visually impaired. This includes code fixes and other changes that make websites and apps more compatible with screen reader technology. The cases were filed early 2017 and settled within weeks.

2017. Access Now, Inc. v. Blue Apron, LLC

DefendantBlue Apron, American ingredient-and-recipe meal kit service.

PlaintiffAccess Now on behalf of four blind individuals, an international non-profit, human rights, public policy, and advocacy group dedicated to an open and free Internet.

Location: U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire.

Claim: Blue Apron’s website was not compatible with screen-reader software and, as a result, the blind individuals could not fully use and enjoy Blue Apron’s services.

Resolution: The company tried to dismiss the case, however, the court denied the motion, finding Blue Apron’s website a place of public accommodation, despite the fact that the company operates only online and has no physical shopping locations. The case is pending judgment.

2017. Reed v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.

DefendantCVS Pharmacy, Inc, an online drugstore and pharmacy. Allows to manage prescriptions and shop a wide selection of health, wellness and beauty products.

Plaintiff: Kyla Reed, a blind individual.

Location: U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Claim: Blind individuals do not have equal access to the pharmacy’s website.

Resolution: Case dismissed by court. This is a particularly interesting case, however, as CVS had faced the same litigations in 2009 and, according to a settlement agreement, was supposed to make their website accessible to persons with disabilities.

2017. Gorecki v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

DefendantHobby Lobby Stores, a chain of American arts and crafts stores.

Plaintiff: Sean Gorecki, legally blind individual, JAWS software user.

Location: U.S. District Court for the District of California.

Claims: Website inaccessible to individuals with disabilities.

Resolution: Court ruled that the retailer’s website is to be considered a “public accommodation” under the ADA. The court’s comments were that the website allows customers to buy products, search store locations, check for special price offers, receive coupons, and purchase gift cards online. This case is pending its resolution.

2017. Robles v. Domino’s Pizza

DefendantDomino’s Pizza LLC, one of the largest pizza restaurant chains.

Plaintiff: Guillermo Robles, visually impaired individual.

Location: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Claims: Dominos.com, is not equally accessible to blind and visually-impaired consumers in violation of the ADA.

Resolution: Case dismissed due to the fact that the DOJ has not yet provided specific regulations regarding website accessibility. The plaintiff, Robles, has filed an appeal and the case is yet to be resolved in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

2016. National Association of the Deaf v. Hulu

DefendantHulu LLC, American subscription video-on-demand service, a joint venture with The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox, Comcast, Time Warner.

PlaintiffNational Association of the Deaf (NAD), a non-profit organization run by Deaf people to advocate for deaf rights.

Location:

Claim: Inaccessibility due to lack of closed captions for video content provided on Hulu’s service.

Resolution: ADA lawsuit settlement agreement.

Hulu was to adhere to the Federal Communications Commission’s standards for caption quality, and to closed caption all full-length English and Spanish video content by September, 2017. In addition to captioning its content, Hulu also agreed to make content available with captions in other languages on demand.

2016. Gomez v. J. Lindeberg USA, LLC.

DefendantLindeberg USA, LLC, a popular fashion and activewear clothing brand.

Plaintiff: Andres Gomez, a Florida resident legally blind individual, user of JAWS screen reading software, a tester who visits public accommodations to locate access barriers covered under the ADA jurisdiction.

Location: U.S. District Court for the Southern District Of Florida.

Claims: In attempting to visit the website, the plaintiff encountered multiple barriers, including the website’s lack of compatibility with his screen reader software.

Resolution: Lindeberg was ordered to undertake immediate remedial measures to make its website accessible to visually impaired people. The clothing brand was also to recover the plaintiff’s attorney fees and other expenses.

2016. Edward Davis v. Bag’n Baggage

DefendantBag’n Baggage, a luggage retailer providing luggage and travel bags online from leading brands at discount prices.

Plaintiff: Edward Davis, a blind individual.

Location: Superior Court of the State of California.

Claims: Bag’n Baggage’s website presents several barriers for the visually impaired:

  • linked images missing alternative text;
  • empty links that contain no text;
  • missing form labels;
  • etc.

Due to the inaccessibility of Bag’n Baggage’s website, blind and visually impaired individuals who use screen reading software can’t effectively browse or shop for products online.

Resolution:

  • The court ruled that the company violated the ADA and corollary California law – the Unruh Act, under which they were top pay $4,000 in statutory damages because of the fact that the plaintiff was denied access to the website at the time it was designed;
  • The court also issued an injunction for the defendant to take the necessary steps to make their website “readily accessible to and usable by individuals with visual impairments or to terminate the website”;
  • The plaintiff was entitled to a substantial amount in attorney fees.

2016. Aleeha Dudley v. Miami University

DefendantMiami University, a public research university located in Oxford, Ohio.

Plaintiff: Aleeha Dudley, a blind student of Miami University.

Location: District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Claims: Miami University violated the ADA by requiring students with disabilities to use inaccessible websites and LMS software, and by providing them with inaccessible courses.

Resolution: Consent decree, according to which Miami University was required to:

  • Ensure that technologies and software across all its campuses are accessible to individuals with disabilities;
  • Pay $25,000 in compensations;
  • Reform policies towards providing learning materials and technologies;
  • Ensure that their web content and learning management systems conform with WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards;
  • Meet with every student with disabilities for which he or she requires assistive technologies or special curricular materials, and their instructors, every semester to develop an accessibility plan.

2015. Jose Del-Orden v. Reebok

DefendantReebok, a global athletic footwear and apparel company, operating as a subsidiary of Adidas.

Plaintiff: Jose Del-Orden, a visually impaired individual.

Location: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Claims: While other major retailers have utilized such accommodations for the visually impaired as alt text, accessible forms, descriptive links, resizable texts, tables, etc., Reebok has neglected to incorporate these tools for the blind on their website, Reebok.com, thus violating the ADA act.

Resolution: Case voluntarily dismissed.

2015. Robert Jahoda v. NBA

DefendantNational Basketball Association (NBA).

Plaintiff: Robert Jahoda, a blind individual.

Location: District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Claims: NBA’s website does not comply with ADA accessibility standards and is not accommodating to the blind and visually impaired. Jahoda was not the only one who claimed that the website has serious barriers for people accessing the site via screen reader technology.

Resolution: Pending resolution.

2015. US Department of Justice v. the National Museum of Crime and Punishment

DefendantNational Museum of Crime and Punishment (NMCP), an educational resource on law enforcement, crime, and forensic history.

Plaintiff: US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Claims: The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the NMCP’s compliance with title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and found that it failed to make all of its exhibits, public programs and other offerings accessible to individuals with disabilities; failed to provide necessary auxiliary aids and services to ensure efficient interaction with people with disabilities.

Resolution: Settlement agreement.

NMCP had to ensure that its website conformed to the Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).

2015 US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights v. Higley Unified School District

DefendantHigley Unified School District

Plaintiffs:


Claims: Higley Unified School District violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The violations were that the District’s website contained barriers that prevent people with disabilities from equally accessing content, especially for people who use assistive technology such as screen readers.

Resolution: Prior to the completion of the investigation, the District voluntarily agreed to resolve this case. ADA settlement agreement.

  • The school district was to propose and implement a plan to create new accessible web content and functionality in conformance with level AA WCAG 2.0 criteria;
  • The content and functionality would then undergo audit by the district and a report would be submitted to OCR including documentation of the steps taken during the audit, a description of the outreach it undertook and the input it received, and a detailed accounting of the results of the audit;
  • A proposed corrective action plan was to be submitted to the OCR to address the issues identified during audit;
  • The district also had to provide website accessibility training for all appropriate personnel, including: content developers, teachers, staff, volunteers, PTA members, webmasters, procurement officials and others responsible for developing, loading, maintaining, or auditing web content and functionality.

2015. National Association of the Deaf v. Harvard, MIT

Defendants:


PlaintiffNational Association of the Deaf on behalf of four hard-of-hearing individuals, a non-profit organization run by Deaf people to advocate for deaf rights.

Location: Massachusetts District Court.

Claims: The schools discriminated hard of hearing people as they’ve failed to provide captions for the vast and varied array of online content they make available to the general public, including massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Resolution: On November 4, 2016, Judge Mark G. Mastroianni denied Harvard’s and MIT’s motion to dismiss the closed captioning ADA lawsuit. The case will likely go to court soon.

2015 Mary West v. eHarmony

DefendanteHarmony, an online dating website.

Plaintiff: Mary West, a blind individual.

Location: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Claims: eHarmony violated state and federal law by failing to build a website that is compatible with accessibility technology: the site used pop-up forms and images without alternative text. Blind users of the site could not have proper access to it without someone’s help.

Resolution: Pending resolution.

2015. Ashley Cwikla v. Bank of America

DefendantBank of America, a multinational banking and financial services corporation headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Plaintiff: Ashley Cwikla, a visually impaired individual.

Location: Massachusetts District Court.

Claims: Lack of accessibility of Bank of America Credit Card Rewards Redemption Solutions available to Bank of America customers on their website.

Resolution: Settlement agreement.

  • Bank of America was obliged to launch the New Bank of America Credit Card Rewards Redemptions Solutions that substantially satisfied Level A and AA Success Criteria set forth by the WCAG 2.0 standard;
  • Bank of America was to conduct training for appropriate Bank of America and/or third party customer service telephone staff to enable persons being trained to assist the visually impaired clients of Bank of America.

2015. Access Now Inc. v. Ace Hardware

DefendantAce Hardware, American hardware retailers’ cooperative based in Oak Brook, Illinois

PlaintiffAccess Now Inc. on behalf of three visually impaired individuals, an international non-profit, human rights, public policy, and advocacy group dedicated to an open and free Internet.

Location: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

Claims: Ace Hardware’s website was not designed with the accommodations necessary for visually impaired individuals.

Resolution: The plaintiffs seek compensation for all legal fees and damages suffered. Case is pending resolution.