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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.

November 1, 2022

ADA Accessibility Lawsuits: Tester Plaintiffs—Deborah Laufer, Robert Petropoulos, Saim Sarwar, and Others—Targeting Massachusetts Businesses in Continued Flurry of Federal Lawsuits

We previously published legal alerts on April 13, 2022, and October 20, 2022, about several serial “tester” plaintiffs targeting businesses in ADA website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal district courts in New York State.

Based on a recent decision issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in the case of Laufer v. Acheson Hotels, LLC, which we reported on here, we expect there will soon be yet another uptick in ADA website accessibility lawsuits filed in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island.

In Massachusetts specifically, be on the lookout for a resurgence of lawsuits targeting the hospitality industry, particularly hotels, motels, and other places of lodging. Plaintiffs Deborah Laufer (15 lawsuits), Robert Petropoulos (more than 35 lawsuits), and Saim Sarwar (more than 25 lawsuits) are already on the scene in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and as a result of the First Circuit’s recent decision, we would not be surprised to see more lawsuits filed by these and other serial plaintiffs in the near future.  

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—at least not on the federal level or in Connecticut, Massachusetts, or New York.  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. That 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 that your business is served with one of these website accessibility lawsuits, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Barclay Damon, who have represented many businesses in similar lawsuits and otherwise continue to monitor the development of these cases.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Carolyn Marcotte Crowley, partner, at ccrowley@barclaydamon.com; Martine Wayne, law clerk, 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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