Lawsuits targeting business websites over ADA violations are on the rise

Originally published on LA Times

The boutique Avanti Hotel is known for its poolside, dog-friendly rooms. Yet its website uses the valuable opening page not to highlight the Palm Springs inn’s amenities, but to explain, in stark black letters on a plain white background, that the Avanti violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Like thousands of other businesses in the United States, the 10-room hotel on East Stevens Road has been sued because it hasn’t fully complied with the 1990 law that requires public places — hotels, restaurants and shops — to be accessible to people with disabilities.

In 2010, the Justice Department began to draft formal regulations for websites to meet ADA goals. But last December, the agency announced it was withdrawing its “rulemaking process,” at a time when the Trump administration was calling for a rollback of federal regulations.

The department said it was killing the regulations because it was “evaluating whether promulgating regulations about the accessibility of web information and services is necessary and appropriate.”

In a June 20 letter, 103 members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — urged then-Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to adopt website regulations, saying the absence of such regulations “only fuels the proliferations of these suits.”

Lawyers who defend ADA lawsuits say the Justice Department’s actions to pull the plug on adopting new regulations may have instigated the latest surge in lawsuits.

Business owners who are sued under the ADA complain that the law allows plaintiffs to demand huge payouts in damages without first giving the business owner the opportunity to fix the websites.

Read full article as originally published on LA Times