Nearly 12,000 people filed lawsuits under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 2021. That’s an increase of 4 percent over the previous year and an increase of 320 percent since 2013.
ADA Compliance Can Be Costly to Companies
“We have seen the number of lawsuits filed in federal courts alleging violations of Title III increase almost every year since we started tracking in 2013,” said Kristina Launey, a litigator with Seyfarth Shaw. “Thousands of lawsuits are filed each year alleging websites and mobile applications are not coded so that they are accessible to individuals who are blind.”
ADA Title III Federal Lawsuits Filed
California Leads The Way
In California, a total of 5,930 ADA Disability Lawsuits were filed by Plaintiffs from 2010-2017. New York was second with 2,774 ADA Lawsuits, and Florida came third with 1,050 ADA Disability Lawsuits.
California Unruh Civil Rights Act
California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act contributed to the high number of ADA lawsuits in the state because a plaintiff can receive $4,000 in statutory damages per incident and attorney fees. Californians with disabilities have won more than $295 million and counting in jury verdicts and settlements under the Unruh Civil Rights Act by filing complaints with the California Department of Justice. The Unruh Act amends the ADA to protect from discrimination by business establishments in California, including housing and public accommodations.
California, New York, Florida
Circuit Courts Weighing In
9th and 11th Circuit Courts
The 9th and 11th circuit courts require a business to be connected to a physical place of business, even after the ADA has undergone several amendments. The courts have determined how the ADA standards apply to websites.
1st, 2nd and 3rd Circuit Courts
1st, 2nd, and 3rd Circuit courts have interpreted the ADA to apply to brick-and-mortar businesses, but not necessarily websites. Nevertheless, their rulings are set precedents.
Best Practices for Businesses
During the period when case law is being developed around ADA Compliance for website owners, courts are weighing in with potentially contradictory rulings, The best approach is to make a “good-faith” effort, at a minimum. Lookit Design’s solution meets this standard.