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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.

May 8, 2023

Website Accessibility Lawsuits: Several New "Tester" Plaintiffs—Degaetano, Espinal, Matzura, Taveras, Rodriguez, Cordero, Carrico, Chalas, Bassaw—Targeting Businesses in Recent Flurry of 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 visually impaired individuals who use screen-reading software, thus denying them full and equal access to the goods or services offered on the websites.

Now, several relatively new plaintiffs are on the scene, including Richard Degaetano, Frangie Espinal, Steven Matzura, Yordaliza Taveras, Rafael Cordero, Joyce Carrico, Ana Chalas, and Shivan Bassaw, who, according to court records, have collectively filed nearly 120 lawsuits, the vast majority of which were filed within the last few months.

  • Degaetano has filed four lawsuits since April 19, 2023. He is represented by Benjamin Sweet, whose law firm, Nye, Stirling, Hale & Miller LLP, has filed more than 700 similar lawsuits.  
  • Espinal and Matzura have collectively filed 16 lawsuits since April 18, 2023, and Matzura previously filed another 40 lawsuits. Both are represented by Jeffrey Gottlieb, whose law firm, Gottlieb & Associates, has filed more than 1,600 similar lawsuits.
  • Taveras, Rodriguez, Cordero, Carrico, Chalas, and Bassaw have collectively filed 60 lawsuits in 2023. They are represented by the law firm 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 visually impaired and hearing-impaired users and otherwise comply with federal, state, and local disability laws in accordance with DOJ guidance issued in March 2022. 

In the unfortunate event you or 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, or another member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Area, Commercial Litigation 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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