Have there been lawsuits for websites not being compliant?

Paper with word Lawsuit

Many companies have received lawsuits and demand letters, and it is becoming more frequent. It is extremely expensive to hire an attorney and pay associated fees and costs; this is only to defend your business. There are many additional costs.

Recent Well Publicized Settlements:

Target $6,000,000
H&R Block $100,000
Netflix $800,000

Figures do not include legal fees & additional costs.

An example is Patagonia Works, Inc. which had a complaint for a permanent injunction filed against it in the United States District Court stating, Under Section 302(b)(1) of Title III of the ADA, it is unlawful discrimination to deny individuals with disabilities an opportunity to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations, which is equal to the opportunities afforded to other individuals. 42 U.S.C. 12182 (b)(1)(A)(ii). Below is a summary of what the lawyers asked the court for.
  • Permanent injunction requiring a change in corporate polices to cause Defendant’s website to become, and remain, accessible
  • Noted was that “The ADA expressly contemplates the type of injunctive relief that the Plaintiffs seek in this action.”
  • The Plaintiff’s lawyers stated that “Because Defendant’s Website has never been accessible and because Defendant does not have, and has never had, a corporate policy that is reasonably calculated to cause its Website to become and remain accessible”. Therefor the Court should require that the Plaintiff accept who the Defendant will use to “assist it in improving the accessibility of its Website”, “ensure that all employees involved in website development and content development be given training”, “Consultant to perform an automated accessibility audit on a periodic basis to evaluate if the Defendant’s Website continues to comply”, “Consultant to perform end-user accessibility/usability testing on a periodic basis”, “Consultant to create an accessibility policy”.

Although the Lawyers asked the Court for the above, and it would be extremely time consuming and expensive for the Defendant, the vary last part of the Complaint was what the Lawyers were after. Here is what the Lawyers asked the Court for:

  • Payment of costs of suit;
  • Payment of reasonable attorney’s fees, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 12205 and 28 CFR 36.505; and,
  • The provision of whatever other relief the court deems just, equitable and appropriate.
The fees, costs and site mitigation associated with this Complaint for Permanent Injunction will likely cost Patagonia Works well over $100,000. This does not include the actual time that owners and managers, and additional employees had to invest.

Damages could be exponentially higher – provisions allow for up to $4,000 for each and every visit to the website or deterred visit.

You must be proactive to potentially avoid spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, along with the cost of reputational damage perpetuated via traditional and social media. ADA Site Compliance can help you mitigate website compliance issues and provide a new revenue stream and significant goodwill.

Website mitigation often leads to “cleaned up code”, improving server load speeds and boosting Search Engine Optimization.

Website must be materially compliant; meaning that if the majority of the site is compliant, a few errors will not render the entire site noncompliant.

The Department of Justice has made clear statements, including in its findings against Harvard and MIT, that the Americans with Disabilities Act covers websites.