Disability Law

Law firms file and settle dozens of ADA suits claiming websites aren't accessible to the blind

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Since the beginning of 2015, more than 240 businesses have faced federal lawsuits claiming their websites are inaccessible to the blind in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The suits often settle quickly for between $10,000 and $75,000, with most of the money being used to cover attorney fees and expenses, the Wall Street Journal reports. The law firm Seyfarth Shaw had tallied the lawsuit numbers.

Steven Solomon, a defense lawyer at GrayRobinson in Miami, sees the suits as part of a bid to obtain legal fees. “You find entrepreneurial lawyers who are always looking for the next great cause of action,” Solomon told the Wall Street Journal. But advocates for the blind say the litigation highlights a real problem of inaccessible websites.

One law firm—Carlson Lynch—has filed about 40 cases in Pittsburgh federal court, according to the Wall Street Journal article. In Miami, lawyer Scott Dinin has sued more than 30 businesses on behalf of Miami-area resident Juan Carlos Gil, a blind man who says he often faces online obstacles.

Carlson Lynch recently sent a demand letter to companies that included a report about their website issues. The letters ask the companies to call the law firm “to explore a far more cost-effective and pragmatic approach to resolving these issues,” according to an alert by a restaurant trade group. Name partner Bruce Carlson told the Wall Street Journal he has sent “many hundreds of letters” targeting larger companies in a bid to increase industry awareness.

The article notes that federal appeals courts are divided on whether websites are covered by the ADA. Some have found websites are covered by the law, and some have found the websites aren’t covered unless they are tied to a brick-and-mortar business.

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