Update (December 8, 2020): This article is incorrect. We've seen a number of lawsuits since the publication of this article. I've contacted Lexis and their Customer Service Department has not replied.
Recent Litigation Trend
As many of you know, I keep a running feed in Lexis of new web accessibility lawsuits. Recently, I've noticed something very strange going on: web accessibility lawsuits have stopped. I'm not saying "slowed down." Instead, it looks like they have just stopped altogether.
Yes, that's right. NO new lawsuits. Zip. Zilch. Nada. And it's been like that for the last two weeks!
Now, here's a table with the data for that chart.
Something seems to have happened just about two weeks ago, on October 10, 2020. All of a sudden, not a single case was showing up in Lexis as a new web accessibility lawsuit.
Is It Real or Is It Lexis?
I have two Lexis alerts and they show up every morning at around 8am and show me the results of my Lexis search since yesterday's alert. So they each cover a period of around 24 hours. So far, they've been great at spotting the newest court decisions (what I'm really interested in) as well as new cases filed in court (which I'm less interested in). But that second part (new cases filed) is something I keep a distant eye on.
For you Lexis geeks, here is my ADA web accessibility search term,
(access! /5 website or inaccess! /5 website) and americans /4 disabilities
and here is the search term that I use for new Unruh web accessibility alerts,
disab! and unruh /20 website
and, as I mentioned, they've been reliable in the past.
Now, this could all be a Lexis issue. Or, it could be Lexis Gods not smiling on me. Lexis isn't perfect, after all. On October 14, for instance, I had noticed this pattern but was surprised to find that there were five "new" lawsuits. But, when I went into Lexis, I found out that they were actually cases filed back in August and September. So who knows? Maybe in a few weeks, Lexis will burp back a huge backlog of two weeks of lawsuits.
I don't have a WestLaw account so I can't compare my recent Lexis results with that platform. But if anyone out there has a Westlaw account, see if you've noticed a similar pattern.
Apart from technical issues with Lexis, there is one explanation for what's going on-- it's the proposed Online Accessibility Act. After all, I don't know of a firm that specializes only in web accessibility lawsuits. These are plaintiff attorneys who could typically sue companies for a host of different issues-- such as defective products, consumer fraud, or just simple slip and fall cases. None of them must do web accessibility litigation. And nothing takes the wind of the sails of a proposed bill like the OAA quite like having all the lawsuits (which were used to justify the bill) suddenly dry up.
But that's probably not it at all. Instead, Lexis is likely just having technical issues. Please comment if you're tracking this too.
Nothing in this post should be interpreted as legal advice or as forming an attorney-client relationship. It is offered for educational purposes only. You should always contact a qualified attorney in your area to discuss your legal rights and responsibilities.
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