Skip to Main Content
Toggle
(800) 889-9659
info@levelaccess.com

Web Accessibility Litigation Targets Retail and Consumer Services, Government Agencies in July 2018

C.P. Hoffman 08/20/18

If you are concerned about your organization’s risk of an ADA lawsuit, contact us for a complimentary Risk Assessment of your website. If you have already been sued, we can partner with your attorney to help you through the process.

Digital accessibility litigation continues to pick up steam, with at least 156 lawsuits filed in federal court in July 2018, a slight increase from June’s 154 cases.

ADA Lawsuits in June 2018 Breakdown by Industry: Retail/Consumer Products - 35 Consumer/Business Services - 34 Restaurants/Food Manufacturing - 26 Hotels - 23 Hospitals/Healthcare - 12 State and Local Government - 7 Real Estate - 7 Banking/Financial Services - 6 Automotive/Transportation - 3 Other* - 3 *In July, the Other category included lawsuits in Media, Sports Associations, and Telecommunications industries.

As in June, the retail, consumer products, and services industries remain in the litigation crosshairs, making up nearly half (44%) of federal website accessibility cases filed in July. Adding in lawsuits against restaurants and food manufacturers, the top three categories account for 61% of all cases filed.

The industry with the greatest growth in the number of lawsuits filed was hotels, increasing from four in June to 23 in July (2.5% to 15% of total cases). Unlike other industries where litigation tends to focus on national organizations, the bulk of hotel cases were against small regional chains and hotels with a single location. The nature of the cases was also different, with many of the complaints brought by individuals with mobility-related disabilities bringing suit because online reservation systems did not allow them to reserve an accessible room.

The greatest growth percent-wise was in the state and local government sector, which saw seven cases in July, up from a single case in June, a 700% increase. Defendants included county and city governments, as well as sheriff’s offices.

The retail and consumer products market segment accounted for 35 of the 156 cases filed in July (about 22% of the total), slightly less than in June, when there were 43 lawsuits (about 28%). There is no evidence, however, that lawsuits against retailers are on the decline, and this is likely a statistical blip.

Among retailers sued in July:

  • major national pharmacy chains,
  • clothing chains,
  • shoe stores,
  • high end fashion and jewelry brands,
  • a pet supply chain, and
  • a game store chain.

Service providers, especially consumer-focused service providers, were also hit hard in July, with 34 lawsuits filed, representing 21% of the total, a slight increase from June (18%). Fitness chains continue to be targeted, but July also brought a wave of lawsuits against country clubs, catering halls, and other event sites associated with weddings, as well as several amusement parks.

Restaurants saw a significant increase in litigation, with 26 cases filed in July (17%), up from eight in June (5%). Defendants include national casual dining chains, fast food and fast-casual chains, as well as several single-location restaurants.

ADA Lawsuits in July 2018 Breakdown by State: New York – 87 Florida – 64 California – 3 Georgia – 1 Pennsylvania – 1 96 of the 156 lawsuits (61.54%) were class action lawsuits.

The vast majority of cases were filed in two states:

  • New York (87 cases, or 56%)
  • Florida (64 cases, or 41%)

This represents a decrease for New York (down from 109 cases/71%) and an increase for Florida (up from 39 cases/25%). With recent decisions from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals making it harder for defendants to have web accessibility suits dismissed, we are likely to see even more cases filed in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.

Finally, 96 cases, or about 62% of the total, were filed as class actions, down from 110 (71%) in June. The difference is largely attributable to the shift in cases from New York, where plaintiffs’ attorneys are more likely to file cases as class actions, to Florida, where they are not.

The Bottom Line

Icon of a magnifying glass examining reportsIf you are concerned about your organization’s risk of an ADA lawsuit, contact us for a complimentary Risk Assessment of your website. If you have already been sued, we can partner with your attorney to help you through the process.

Our Methodology: Level Access uses commercially-available legal databases to search all federal court dockets for lawsuits alleging ADA claims. The results are then reviewed and cataloged by Level Access’s legal analysts, who then compile the data on a monthly basis. While all of the cases in the database have been verified to include a digital accessibility claim, the database may be missing other cases that did not come up in our search. The database also excludes cases filed in state courts, which may have the effect of undercounting litigation in states that have their own laws prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities (e.g., California, New York).

This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *