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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.

August 30, 2023

Website Accessibility Lawsuits: Juan Santana Targeting Outdoor and Wildlife Industry in Recent Flurry of Federal Lawsuits

We continue to report on the plethora of serial plaintiffs who have collectively filed thousands of website accessibility lawsuits, primarily against small businesses, in state and federal courts throughout the country. These boilerplate lawsuits generally allege that these businesses’ websites are inaccessible to blind and visually impaired individuals who use screen-reading software, thus denying them full and equal access to the goods or services offered on the websites.

Notably, within the last week alone, Juan Santana, a resident of Albany, New York, filed 22 lawsuits in the US District Court for the Northern District of New York, several of which name businesses in the outdoor and wildlife industry. Santana, who, according to his complaints, is “a blind, visually impaired, handicapped person,” is represented by Mizrahi Kroub LLP, which has filed more than 3,000 similar lawsuits in federal court (and, in recent months, hundreds of additional lawsuits in New York State courts).

As we have reported on numerous occasions, both state and federal 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 (DOJ), we recommend that businesses operating a website, mobile application, or both take steps to ensure that these online systems are accessible to users with disabilities and otherwise comply with federal, state, and local disability laws in accordance with DOJ guidance issued in March 2022. 

It should be noted that the DOJ recently submitted for publication in the Federal Register a notice of rulemaking under Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) that aims to improve access to websites and mobile applications for people with disabilities by creating a minimum standard for state and local governments to meet existing ADA obligations.

In the unfortunate event 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 and continue to represent defendants in these and similar 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; Mike Oropallo, Outdoor & Wildlife Team co-leader, at moropallo@barclaydamon.com; or another member of the firm’s Labor & Employment or Commercial Litigation Practice Areas or Outdoor & Wildlife 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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