Federal Website Accessibility Lawsuits Increased in 2021 Despite Mid-Year Pandemic Lull


Seyfarth Synopsis: ADA Title III web-site accessibility lawsuits filed in federal courts in 2021 jumped 14% about 2020, besting the 12% 2020 enhance aided by a large November 2021 spike in filings.

The figures are in for total web site accessibility lawsuit filings in federal courts in 2021, and they exhibit a whopping 14% boost from 2020. The total amount of lawsuits filed in federal courts alleging that plaintiffs with a incapacity could not use sites because they had been not made to be obtainable and/or do the job with assistive systems in 2021 was 2,895–372 much more than 2020. This 14% raise in the range of lawsuits in 2021 exceeds the 12% maximize we saw in 2020. Though these quantities pale by comparison to the explosion of situations we observed from 2017 to 2018 (an maximize of 177%), the current improves are however incredibly substantial.

[Graph: ADA Title III Website Accessibility Lawsuits in Federal Court 2017-2020: 2017: 814; 2018: 2,258 (177% increase from 2017); 2019: 2,256 (.01% decrease from 2018), 2020: 2,523 (12% increase from 2019); 2021: 2,895 (14% increase from 2020). *The number of cases that could be identified through a diligent search.]

In the to start with 10 months of 2021, there had been concerning 170 and 260 filings per month other than for March and August with 329 and 139, respectively. The filings surged in November 2021 to 499 mostly owing to just one NY regulation business which submitted 357 of individuals fits.

[Graph: Total Number of Website Accessibility Lawsuits Filed by Month (Jan. 2021 – Dec. 2021): Jan. 2021 (234), Feb. 2021 (256), Mar. 2021 (329), Apr. 2021 (220), May 2021 (196), Jun. 2021 (242), Jul. 2021 (172), Aug. 2021 (139), Sep. 2021 (179), Oct. 2021 (183), Nov. 2021 (499), Dec. 2021 (246), *The number of cases that could be identified through a diligent search.]

New York, Florida, and California federal courts ongoing to be the busiest by significantly, with California stealing the #2 place from Florida in 2021. New York federal courts observed 2,074 lawsuits in 2021 (continuing upward from 1,694 in 2020, 1,354 in 2019, and 1,564 in 2018). California observed 359 lawsuits (up from 223 in 2020, 120 in 2019, and 10 in 2018), and Florida noticed 185 (continuing a downward development of 302 in 2020, 526 in 2019, and 576 in 2018) lawsuits, as shown in the chart under. In fourth position at 167, Pennsylvania was only somewhat down from its 173 lawsuits submitted in 2020. Colorado dropped out of the top 10, and Illinois returned to the fifth spot with 34 suits—2 much more than its tally of 32 in 2020 but (down from 91 lawsuits in 2019). Connecticut and Indiana remained in the top rated 10 with relatively meager quantities at 14 and 7, respectively, and newcomers Oregon and Wisconsin rounded out the top 10 with 5 and 4 filings, respectively.

These quantities do not account for the many demand letters despatched out by law firms which by no means outcome in lawsuits, as effectively as lawsuits submitted in point out courts (mainly in California) which are a lot more difficult to observe. These figures also do not include lawsuits filed alleging that a cellular application is inaccessible, unless the lawsuit also alleged an inaccessible website. In an unscientific search in 2019, we came across 203 lawsuits alleging a violation of the ADA because of to inaccessible cellular applications all submitted by 3 lawyers in Florida and New York this yr that selection was closer to 50.

[Graph: Top 10 States for Federal ADA Title III Website Accessibility Lawsuits 2021: NY 2,074, CA 359, FL 185, PA 167, MA 41, IL 34, CT 14, IN 7, OR 5, WI 4. *The number of cases that could be identified through a diligent search.]

If you are questioning why California has so handful of web-site accessibility scenarios relative to New York, it’s mainly because several plaintiffs like to file in state court in which the regulation is usually extra favorable towards plaintiffs, particularly when the defendant is an on-line-only business enterprise. We will be keeping an eye on Florida in 2022 to evaluate the effects of the Eleventh Circuit’s conclusion to wipe the Gil v. Winn Dixie situation solely out of the casebooks on grounds of mootness. In advance of carrying out so, on the other hand, the Eleventh Circuit had issued a decision that recognized a relatively substantial hurdle for plaintiffs seeking to exhibit an ADA violation in a web site accessibility scenario, suggesting that the Eleventh Circuit may well nicely access the same conclusion yet again. This conclusion could have a chilling outcome on Florida plaintiffs in these types of instances.

About our methodology: Our 2021 numbers are centered on lookups making use of search phrases of data from the Courthouse News Companies. Consequently, it is achievable that there are some website accessibility conditions that were not captured in the lookups if their descriptions did not incorporate the keywords. We then review the thousands of entries manually to get rid of lawsuits that may be about internet websites but are not about a website’s accessibility to a user with a disability. For instance, there were being a number of lawsuits in 2018-2021 (a incredibly huge explosion of these kinds of fits in 2021 in California) brought by plaintiffs with mobility disabilities alleging that the reservations websites of motels did not supply suitable information about the accessibility of resort facilities.

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