Attorneys Targeting Chiropractors' Over Websites

ChiroFutures Malpractice Program
Attorneys Targeting Chiropractors' Over Websites

Allegations of Non-Compliance with ADA

Recently, the plaintiffs’ bar has discovered a new cash cow: AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT Web site accessibility lawsuits (explained in more detail, below). One lawyer in Austin who has filed over 400 such suits (primarily against small businesses) in the Western District of Texas, alone, was recently sanctioned $175,000 and recommended for disbarment in the Western District by the federal magistrate, based on the lawyer’s conduct in several of the cases.

Copy of the opinion attached HERE.

Since being sanctioned, this particular plaintiffs’ counsel has shifted gears, targeting hospitals, clinics, and health care professionals.

What is an ADA Web-site accessibility claim?

The argument is that businesses which have a Web site available to the general public have to incorporate in the Web site design features to make the site equally accessible to individuals with disabilities, e.g., closed captioning for any audio components of the site to accommodate hearing impaired individuals, audio components for all visual content to accommodate visually impaired individuals, etc. Normally, the only statutory remedy for ADA accessibility claims is declaratory and injunctive relief to bring the business into compliance with the ADA and, of course, attorney fees.

Typically, the plaintiff’s lawyer will have the same disabled professional-plaintiff-client visit numerous businesses or Web sites, then send a demand letter threatening litigation because the Web site allegedly doesn’t comply with federal standards — the regulations for which have not, yet, even been adopted by the government — and other adverse actions, e.g., reporting the business to the federal government, etc., but will agree to go away if the company pays the lawyer several thousand dollars in attorney fees.

In most cases, the potential plaintiff doesn’t even have standing because the individual never actually sought or used the services offered, doesn’t live within the service area serviced by the business, or the individual’s disability could not have been adversely affected by the alleged deficiency (for example, a wheelchair bound individual who does not have any visual or audio impairments cannot be adversely affected by the lack of closed captioning on a Web site).

A Florida district court observed that “the means for enforcing the ADA (attorney’s fees) have become more important and desirable than the end (accessibility for disabled individuals)” and the plaintiffs in these cases are “merely a professional pawn in an ongoing scheme to bilk attorney’s fees from the Defendant.” 

Please contact us if you receive one of these demand letters.

ChiroFutures Malpractice Program