A Miami advocacy group for the disabled is increasingly focusing its efforts in
a Pennsylvania courthouse.
Inc., a not-for-profit formed in 1997, is listed as a plaintiff in 34 lawsuits
filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act in Pittsburgh federal court.
Mostly thanks to the Pittsburgh firm Carlson Lynch Sweet & Kilpela, the
court has earned a reputation as one of the most active in the nation when it
comes to lawsuits filed on behalf of the blind against the owners and operators
the late attorney Edward Resnick in 1997, Access Now currently shows seven
officers and directors, all living in Florida. Its president is R. David New, a
blind artist living in Miami Beach.
focus on the Pittsburgh federal court seems to be new. The recent influx of lawsuits
began in July 2015, and of its 19 cases filed in 2017, 10 are in the U.S.
District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
New is also
listed as a plaintiff on many of the lawsuits along with fellow frequent
plaintiffs Lisa Frazier, Rachel Gniewkowski and Michelle Sipe.
targets a wide range of companies over their websites. Its most recent lawsuit
was filed against Omaha Steaks and alleges the company’s website contains “digital
barriers” that prevent blind and visually impaired visitors from accessing it.
defendants include Buffalo Wild Wings, Churchill Downs and Chick-Fil-A. The
lawsuits are often consolidated with others.
Pennsylvania Record previously reported on the rise of website accessibility lawsuits in
Pittsburgh in 2016. In these cases, plaintiffs assert that websites must comply
with the same ADA rules that physical locations do because they offer services
to the public.
Access Now’s most noteworthy cases was a class action filed against the
athletic wear company lululemon. The settlement required the company to begin
equipping each store with certain PIN pads and pay $7,000 in gift cards to
Access Now and New.
Gables, Fla., law firm Leon Cosgrove represented Access Now and New were paid
$37,000. Carlson Lynch represents Access Now in its Pennsylvania lawsuits.
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach editor John O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.