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Sunday, September 30, 2018

11th Circuit to Hear Argument in Appeal of First Website Accessibility Case to Go to Trial

Federal Court of Appeals to Hear Argument
in Appeal of First Website Accessibility Case to Go to Trial

The Senate and Dozens of Organizations Weigh In

On October 4, 2018, the 11thCircuit Court of Appeals will hear argument in Miami in Gil v. Winn-Dixie, which is the first case to have gone to trial on accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of websites for the blind.

The trial court ruled fully for the plaintiff, Juan Gil, and ordered Winn-Dixie, the grocery store chain, to make its website fully accessible. The suit was brought and tried by Miami attorney Scott R. Dinin, Civil Rights Attorney, Miami.  Co-counsel is Joshua Entin, also of Miami.

In the 11thCircuit, the case will be argued by David Ferleger, Jenkintown, PA., co-counsel for Mr. Gil.  The lower court decision is at Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., 257 F. Supp. 3d 1340 (S.D. FL 2017).

When a business’ website is a service welcoming and bringing people to the business, must the website be accessible to blind persons? What does the ADA (enacted before there were any websites!) require? The trial court emphatically recognized the independence which accessible websites support. As Mr. Gil, a paralympic athlete testified, “Why me, as an individual that’s visually impaired, why can I not access the same, goods, services on a website…”

Organizations representing thousands of businesses are asking the court of appeals to overturn the verdict, arguing that their obligations under the ADA do not extend to websites, and expressing concern about the cost of compliance.

The case is generating unusual interest nationally. Six US Senators, led by Sen. Charles Grassley, wrote to Attorney General Sessions on September 4, 2018 to urge limits on ADA website accessibility cases, citing theGil v. Winn-Dixiecase at the outset of the letter.

The business community has lined up against the Mr. Gil in a friend of the court brief filed by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America,  Restaurant Law Center, American Bankers Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, American Resort Development Association, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, International Council of Shopping Centers, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Association of Realtors®, National Association of Theatre Owners, National Federation of Independent Businesses, National Multifamily Housing Council, and National Retail Federation, and a separate brief by the Florida Justice Reform Institute.

The disability advocacy community’s friend of the court brief is filed by the National Federation of The Blind, American Council of the Blind, American Foundation For the Blind, Association of Late Deafened Adults, Disability Independence Group, Disability Rights Advocates, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Disability Rights Florida, Florida Council Of The Blind, National Association of The Deaf, National Disability Rights Network, National Federation of the Blind of Florida, Washington Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and World Institute on Disability. It is authored by Greg Care, Brown Goldstein & Levy.

For copies of the briefs, feel free to write or call Mr. Ferleger,

Keep your eyes on this case….

For various perspectives:

Courthouse News Service

Court Decisions Brief – Southeast ADA Center

“Perspectives from an ADA Lawyer: Practical Implications of the Winn-Dixie Lawsuit”

Seyforth Shaw – ADA Title III

Advertising News

Lainey Feingold 

Fredrickson & Byron:

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