PITTSBURGH -- Pennsylvania is one of three states, along with
New York and California, where Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits filed
in connection with allegedly inaccessible websites have steadily increased.
Seyfarth Shaw LLP compiled data revealing that those
three states are the jurisdictions that have seen 85 percent of the website-related
ADA cases filed through Sept. 21, although those numbers could change before
the end of the year. Pennsylvania, New York and California also have had the
largest number of law firms filing these suits.
Minh Vu of Seyfarth Shaw said most of the cases filed in
Pennsylvania have been filed in the federal court in Pittsburgh. She said the
popularity of these cases in Pennsylvania is easily explained.
“The law firm that is handling these cases is located in
Pennsylvania,” Vu told the Pennsylvania
Vu said Carlson Lynch Sweet & Kilpela is the firm filing
the ADA website lawsuits. Specifically, Seyfarth Shaw’s data reveals that
Carlson Lynch had filed 43 percent of the suits through Sept. 21, followed by Lee
Litigation Group with 28 percent and Newport Trial Group with 16 percent of the website
Vu said there have been some significant decisions
resulting from these cases, even if the cases may not be classified as big.
For example, she said Judge Arthur J. Schwab in the U.S.
District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania denied a motion to
dismiss filed by Huntington Bank in a website accessibility lawsuit earlier
this year with no comment.
“Because all website accessibility lawsuits filed in the
Western District of Pennsylvania seem to be assigned to Judge Schwab, this is not a good
sign for the defendants in those cases,” Vu said.
In addition, Vu said a California state court ruled in March that a retailer had violated the ADA and California non-discrimination
statutes by having an inaccessible retail site and ordered the retailer to make
its website accessible.
“This is the first website accessibility case we are aware
of that was litigated to judgment,” she said. “Most cases settle well before
Vu said in a Seyfarth Shaw blog that website accessibility
lawsuits and threatened claims are growing in popularity for plaintiffs’
The plaintiffs in the ADA suits commonly allege that more disabled
people are not able to access a business’s products or services as a result of
Seyfarth Shaw found that the number of lawsuits filed in
federal court since the beginning of 2015 was 106 as of Sept. 21, with 63 percent of
those suits being filed against retailers, 16 percent against restaurants and 9 percent
against hospitality companies. Other industries hit by ADA-related website
lawsuits included academic, dating services, entertainment, financial, gaming,
insurance, medical, personal services, sports and travel operations.
In addition to filing lawsuits, many firms have sent demand
letters to business en masse, raising allegations of inaccessible websites on
behalf of unidentified disabled clients.
Vu said in the blog that there have been no laws proposed by
the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with website accommodations for