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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

December 5, 2022

ADA Accessibility Lawsuits: Several New "Tester" Plaintiffs—Celeste Edwards, Erick Gathers, Stephen Giannaros, and Arnold Vargas—Targeting Businesses in Recent Flurry of Federal Lawsuits in Massachusetts

We previously published a legal alert about serial plaintiffs Deborah Laufer, Robert Petropoulos, and Saim Sarwar, who have collectively filed more than 850 federal lawsuits, roughly 80 of which were filed in Massachusetts. 

There are now several new plaintiffs on the scene, including Celeste Edwards, Erick Gathers, Stephen Giannaros, and Arnold Vargas, who, according to court records, have collectively filed 98 federal lawsuits, almost exclusively in Massachusetts.

  • Edwards has filed seven lawsuits since May 2022, and she is represented by Freed Kanner London & Millen LLC.
  • Gathers has filed 12 lawsuits since April 2018, and he is represented by Nye, Stirling, Hale & Miller, LLP, which has filed more than 400 ADA lawsuits. 
  • Giannaros has filed 45 lawsuits since November 2019, and he is represented by Block & Leviton LLP, which has filed more than 160 ADA lawsuits.
  • Vargas has filed 34 lawsuits since March 2019, and he is also represented by Block & Leviton LLP.

As we have reported on numerous prior occasions, both federal and state lawmakers have taken steps in recent years to curb website accessibility lawsuits; however, to date, no legislation has been passed. In the absence of legislation or regulations promulgated by the US Department of Justice, we recommend that businesses operating a website or mobile application take steps to ensure that these online systems are accessible to visually impaired and hearing-impaired users and otherwise comply with federal, state, and local disability laws. This includes conforming all web and mobile content with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines—at least until there is meaningful legislative or regulatory action. 

In the unfortunate event you or your business are served with one of these website accessibility lawsuits, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Barclay Damon, who have represented and continue to represent a number of defendants in these and similar accessibility lawsuits. We will continue to monitor the development of these cases.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Rob Thorpe, partner, at rthorpe@barclaydamon.com; Martine Wayne, associate, at mwayne@barclaydamon.com; or another member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Area or Hotels, Hospitality & Food Service Team.

The Labor & Employment Podcast is a weekly Barclay Damon Live podcast hosted by Ari Kwiatkowski that provides employers with important updates regarding ever-evolving state and federal labor and employment laws as well as a wide range of timely topics pertaining to labor and employment issues in the workplace. Click here to watch or listen to the Labor & Employment Podcast as well as Barclay Damon’s other podcast series: Cyber Sip and Cannabis Counselor. 
 

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