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ADA Website Compliance Defense Law Firm: Federal Judges Toss Cases Based on Lack of Standing and Because Not Everything Must Be ADA-Compliant

By John DiGiacomo

Many businesses running websites know that their website must be compliant with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”). However, while federal courts have established some clear rules with respect to website compliance obligations, there are other areas that are legally murky.

Generally, the clear rules are that if your website drives traffic to physical locations, then your website must have specific coding that will translate the visual images into audio for the visually impaired. By contrast, if your business has no physical locations, then your website need not be ADA-compliant. This is because a website is not a physical location. Beyond that, things get less clear. Making matters worse, being sued for alleged website non-compliance can be very expensive. You will need a very experienced ADA website compliance law firm like Revision Legal. Call us at 231-714-0100. We are ADA compliance lawyers specializing in internet law.

Several recent federal cases have highlighted that lack of standing may be among the best legal defenses to website compliance litigation, particularly where a business is facing a “high frequency” plaintiff. In general, to have standing to sue under the ADA, a plaintiff must show that they

  • Suffered an injury in fact
  • The injury is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant
  • That a favorable judicial decision will remedy the injury
  • That, either the plaintiff is deterred from returning to the facility or the plaintiff intends to return to the facility and is therefore likely to suffer repeated injury

This last requirement is specific to the ADA, and it is this last requirement that is effectively limiting ADA website compliance litigation. A good example comes from Gomez v. The Boulevard And Company, Inc., Case No. 2:21-cv-2057 WBS DB (US Dist. E.D. Cal., Sept. 6, 2022). In that case, the plaintiff — Andres Gomez — sued, claiming that the defendant’s website was not ADA-compliant. The defendant operates a cannabis collective dispensary in California. Thus, at least at the pleading stage, the ADA would apply to the company’s website. The defendant did not answer or otherwise appear in the case, and Gomez sought a default judgment. However, the court raised questions of legal standing. Gomez stated that he visited the website, but it was not ADA-compliant. With respect to plans to visit the physical location, Gomez offered that he was in the California area and was considering visiting Northern California because he had family living in Northern California.

However, this was insufficient for the court. According to the court, Gomez’s Civil Cover Sheet stated that Gomez lived in Miami, Florida. The court found the assertions that Gomez was going to visit the dispensary to be vague and insufficient. The court denied the motion for default judgment (with leave to refile).

Another case helpful to defending website compliance litigation is another case involving Andres Gomez. See Gomez v. Trinitas Cellars, LLC., Case No. 3:21-cv-09006 (US Dist. Court, N.D. California, June 17, 2022). In that case, the judge dismissed the ADA complaint on summary judgment. One important holding was that even where a website must be ADA-compliant, not every element of the website must be compliant. In particular, Gomez claimed that there were no text-to-audio translations for various logos, the main menu, and various icons. The court said that there was no injury to Gomez for these alleged ADA-compliance failures.

Contact Revision Legal

For more information or if you have been searching for an “ADA compliance attorney near me,” call Revision Legal at 231-714-0100. We are ADA compliance attorneys with proven experience in ADA compliance litigation.

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