ADA Website And App Lawsuits
For our more in-depth information page on ADA website lawsuits, please click here. For website checker, go to the end of this page.
The attorneys at The Karlin Law Firm LLP can help with claims that your website or app is not ADA compliant. We are aware of the attorneys who have been sending threatening letters and filing lawsuits regarding ADA website and app compliance. Some of these attorneys and law firms include Scott Ferrell, David Reid, Pacific Trial Attorneys, Victoria Knowles, Rusty Payton, Marc Dann, Joesph Manning (hotel website ADA lawsuits and other claims), Micheal Manning (hotel website ADA lawsuits and other claims), Craig Cote (hotel website ADA lawsuits and other claims), Caitlin Scott, Vineet Dubey plaintiffs Sean Gorecki, Dona Dugo (hotel website ADA lawsuits), Kayla Reed (hotel website ADA lawsuits), Edward Davis, Perla Mageno, Poupak Barekat (hotel website ADA lawsuits), Abacuc, Abacus Heras (hotel website ADA lawsuits), Cesar Cotto, Jennifer Carbine, Perla Mageno, Rebecca Castillo (Website ADA lawsuits), James Farr (website ADA lawsuits), Brett Deslavo (website ADA lawsuits). Lipsky Lowe, LLP, Douglas B. Lipsky (New York City, New York) Plaintiff: Brian Fischler, Kevin W. Tucker (website letters) plaintiff: Blair Douglass, Morgan J. McGrath (website letters in Florida), Hasstie Sanjar, Steven L. Derby, Lipsky Lowe, LLP, Douglas B. Lipsky (New York City, New York) Plaintiff: Brian Fischler, Amanda F. Benedict, Law Office of Amanda Benedict, Plaintiff: Richard Cooks, Ruban D. Nathan, Nathan & Associates, APC, Plaintiff: William White, Amanda Seabock with Center for Disability Access with plaintiffs: Orlando Garcia (Hotel Websites), Chris Langer, Megan Erasmus & Allan J. Williams II (Closed Captioning), Jonathan A. Stieglitz, Apex Law, Ryan M. Ferrell, (website letters, based in Arizona), Thomas W. Kohler, Jonathan A. Stieglitz. Additional attorneys include David Paul Force of Stein Saks, PLLC in New Jersey who files lawsuits in New York. David Force represents plaintiffs Mary West, Pamela Williams, Frances Kalender, Joseph Guglielmo, Yaseen Traynor and Valentin Reid. In our view, many of these claims are bogus and frivolous. Give us a call, we can help.
Other than the hotel website claims, these claims often state or imply that the Department of Justice (D.O.J or DOJ) has established firm guidelines for ADA website or app compliance. We believe this is false and misleading. We generally take the position that these guidelines do not apply. The reference in these claims is often to:
The international website standards organization – the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”).
This organization has published: Version 2.0 of the Web Contact Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”).
WCAG 2.0 guidelines 3.1.1 and 2.4.4 and 3.1.2
The Karlin Law Firm LLP is on the forefront in defending businesses, website and app owners against a major wave of ADA website and apps attacks by people claiming websites and apps are somehow not up to the viewer’s personal standards. No standards have been set. This has been confirmed in the recent 9th Circuit Case, Robles v Domino’s Pizza, decided on Jan. 15, 2019. The case also seemed to hold that stand-alone websites and apps with no nexus to a physical location and brick and mortar store is exempt from the ADA. This is in line with the 11th Circuit, although it has been argued that other circuits may have approached the question differently.
Of note is a new development where a few law firms are targeting developers and owners of mobile applications – apps – for alleged ADA noncompliance. In our view, there is no legal basis for almost all of these ADA app claims and lawsuits. The law firm of Carlson Lynch of Pittsburg, PA, is one of the law firms making claims against owners of apps, on behalf of Robert Jahoda and Eddie White, though its lawyers and attorneys, R. Bruce Carlson and Kevin W. Tucker. Todd D. Carpenter, are members of the law firm. If you have received one of their claim letters, give us a call.
The lack of standards for either websites or certain apps related to a store or restaurant like Domino’s Pizza, but leaving it an “open question of fact” to be determined by a trial court, can open the door to anyone claiming a visual or other disability to file a lawsuit that has the effect of extorting a ransom in exchange for dropping the lawsuit. This is the weaponization of the ADA, and this ADA website weaponization is as alarming as a devastating computer virus. ADA website and app attacks are largely fueled by the lack of meaningful and simple-to-implement-and-maintain safe harbor standards, and also by the “one-sided” attorney’s fees provision in ADA cases, which often puts an ADA plaintiff in a “no-lose” position. In our view, any one-sided attorney’s fees provision where only the plaintiff (but not the defendant) can get its attorney’s fees paid by the losing side, always presents the opportunity for abuse, and often results in bad consequences because it sets up a “no-lose” situation for the plaintiff even when their case is weak.
Perhaps more egregious is the fact that even if the business can show the website and/or its related mobile site or app was adequate to accommodate those with disabilities, this does not prevent another plaintiff from filing a lawsuit claiming the very same thing. In effect, there is no “finality” and the business is continually exposed to ongoing rounds of moral extortion. While there may be a strong argument that the lack of finality renders the application of the ADA to websites and related mobile sites and apps, unconstitutional, no court has yet addressed this particular issue.1
These ADA website and app lawsuits and threats are as much an attack on the internet, on American business and on the economy, as a virus that attacks thousands of business computers. There are over 100 million websites and an untold number of mobile sites and apps in the United States alone. Few, if any, meet the vague “standards” these lawyers say should be adopted by the courts.
Even the Department of Justice (DOJ) has struggled with the idea of imposing some type of standard for the display of information on a Website. After 10 years of investigations, the DOJ appears to have given up on the idea. As far as we are aware, under Title III, for private businesses, the DOJ has not suggested any apps in the nature of software to have any ADA requirement. Nonetheless, these ADA plaintiff’s law firms not only continue to file these ADA website lawsuits, but at least one law firm is threatening to file ADA lawsuits over mobile sites and apps. These abusive ADA website lawsuits and apps lawsuits and/or threats are increasing rapidly. With over 100 million websites, if this tidal wave of ADA website and app attacks is allowed to continue, it could bankrupt many small and tiny businesses, causing a devastating effect on the economy.
The Karlin Law Firm LLP is here to help defend against this title wave of ADA website and app attacks and lawsuits.
If you have been threatened with an ADA website or app lawsuit, give us a call. We are here to help.
A few things you may want to know, a recent case decided by the 9th Circuit on January 15, 2019. In Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, the 9th Circuit Court addressed the question of due process, jurisdiction and lack of website standards. The court held that there is not a specific standard that websites and/or a website’s related mobile site or app, needed to follow to provide some accommodation for the blind or visually impaired (often using the JAWS program to translate a website into the spoken word). Nonetheless, a plaintiff is still free to file a lawsuit to try to prove the website was inadequate. The plaintiff may or may not win the lawsuit, but the mere filing of the lawsuit often forces a business, however tiny, to spend money, time and resources, to explain and justify how its website is displayed, even if it is later determined that the website was fine, as is.
As noted above, the Domino’s Court appeared to hold that the requirement did not apply to stand-alone websites without a physical location or physical nexus. There may be other views on this point, but we believe these views can be distinguished. While the Domino’s Pizza company is a large business enterprise that has the resources to defend such claims and or make major complex modifications to its website and related mobile site and app, the court’s holding would appear to apply to the smallest of businesses. For example, to a retiree who sets up a three-page website selling his or her old fishing lures, or a handyman’s website stating they have a small shop where they are available to fix your broken lamp or bike. In coming to its conclusion, the court relied on the language of the ADA and certain guidelines (but not website standards) that the Department of Justice has enacted over time (without any vote of Congress). In our view, Congress and/or the DOJ will need to clarify this area of the law. Until then, we can expect an avalanche of ADA website and app attacks on businesses, large, small and tiny, as well as against self-employed people who run a small micro-business. To be clear, these are website and app attacks in the name of the ADA, no different in practice than a computer virus. In our view, for the most part, these lawsuits are filed, and these threats are made simply to extort a ransom in exchange for dismissing the case, or not filing the lawsuit.
Of recent note, Florida Realtors has sent letters to its members regarding Portell Law Group, representing Access4All, Inc. Portell Law Group is headed by Jennifer Portell, also known as Jennifer Espinet-Portell out of Miami, Florida, with an office in Washington, D.C., where a warning has been sent by The Florida Realtors Association (www.FloridaRealtors.org). See our separate page on the Portell Law Group website claims. Another firm specializing in website threat letters is The Canon Law firm, and Mr. Berokim, that claims to be representing an ADA website plaintiff, Xandra Krahe, a blind or visually impaired California resident. Please see our page on the Canon Law, Berokim website claims. Recently, the Canon Law Firm and Kousha Berokim have targeted bike stores and bicycle store owners who have bike store websites with ADA website lawsuit threats. We are the leaders in ADA website defense, and we defend against ADA website claims and lawsuits, and can assist with both the defense as well as work with you and your IT department or web developer on ways to help prevent ADA website lawsuits and claims. One source of information is WCAG, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and the 2.0 guidelines (which may not be considered standards).
As of recently, Olga Nazimova has been targeting websites using visually impaired plaintiffs, Edward Davis & Ronald Chism. Another Attorney sending out demand letters on websites is R. Stephen Hall representing client: Pursuit of Respect, Inc. Another law firm is Fidelity Law, APC making FHA and ADA website claims with Attorney Brian R. Linnekens representing client Santiago Hernandez.
has defended, consulted on and resolved over 1,000 ADA cases, including ADA website, ADA app, as well as physical ADA claims and lawsuits. We know that the vast majority of these cases are filed against tiny struggling businesses whose owners barely make a living. Minorities and recent immigrants who often are forced to set up tiny businesses due to limited employment opportunities are hit the hardest by these lawsuits. For the general public, hearing about such cases as Domino’s Pizza, it may appear that the businesses being sued have the resources to defend against these website lawsuits. But make no mistake, it is only the largest businesses that can afford to seek review by the court. The reported cases almost never mention the thousands of tiny businesses that are mainly affected by the court’s decision. As such, the public is largely unaware of the major impact these cases have on the thousands of cases filed against tiny businesses.
On April 7, 2021, the 11th Circuit finally issued it’s decision in the Gil vs. Winn-Dixie case, holding that websites generally do not need to comply with the ADA even if they have a nexus to a physical store. There is now a clear split of authority among the Federal District Court of Appeals. The text of the decision appears on our website here Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores.
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Here are some resources for web and website accessibility checkers and testers and testing:
One commonly used free website accessibility checker – tester:
W3C – Web accessibility initiative checker and testers list from W3C:
Personal assistance with website accessibility testing or checking: