In 2015, a customer with a visual disability filed a suit against retailer Colorado Bag & Baggage, citing “numerous access barriers” preventing him from using the retail website.
ColoradoBaggage.com was not accessible when visited by an individual using screen reading software. Attorneys for the plaintiff gave several examples of these accessibility barriers in the complaint, including:
- Missing alternative text for images
- Empty links
- Missing form labels
These and other violations prevented the plaintiff from accessing information, goods, and services from the website.
The court issued a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff, stating:
Plaintiff has met his burden with respect to demonstrating violations of the ADA and Unruh Act. It is undisputed that plaintiff is disabled within the meaning of the ADA. Plaintiff also has presented sufficient evidence and legal argument to conclude Title III of the ADA applies to the plaintiff’s use of a website where plaintiff has demonstrated he sought goods and services from a place of public accommodation because he demonstrated a sufficient nexus exists between defendant’s retail store and its website that directly affects plaintiff’s ability to access goods and services. Plaintiff also presented sufficient evidence that he was denied full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, privileges, and accommodations offered by defendant because of his disability.
Since the case was filed in California, both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Unruh Civil Rights Act (CA Civil Code Section 51 – http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/Publications_Unruh.htm) apply.
In the order dated March 21, 2016, the County of San Bernardino Superior Court ordered Colorado Bags & Baggage to:
- Pay the plaintiff $4,000 in damages
- Make their website accessible or terminate the website
The plaintiff can also recover his attorney fees and costs.
As of Tuesday, March 29, 2016, ColoradoBaggage.com is listed as “Under Construction.”