Up here in Seattle, May is usually a cool, rainy month. Frequently, this extends into most of June, leading local denizens to refer to the month as "Juneuary." So far, this year has broken that pattern as we've had brilliant sunny summery days with low humidity and highs in the low- to mid-seventies. After a dreary winter, this break has been very nice and I've wanted to spend my days outside avoiding work. Lexis cooperated by offering few startling cases to analyze.
Two Takes on Website Accessibility
Early in the month, Lexis offered me two cases from opposite sides of the country: Harrison v. CME International LLC, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82238 (C.D. Cal. 2023) and Chalas v. Pork King Good, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79100 (S.D.N.Y. 2023). Both cases involve websites that were inaccessible to blind plaintiffs and both cases involved a defendant's motion to dismiss. Knowing that one case was brought in the Southern District of New York and the other one was brought in the Central District of California should already tell you how the courts were going to rule: the California case gets dismissed but the New York case doesn't. Both cases centered on the question of whether a website can be considered a place of public accommodation under the ADA. In the links above, I've provided copies of the courts' opinions and I think it's fun comparing how two courts come to well-supported but opposite conclusions. As readers of this blog know, I'm partial to the interpretation from the Southern District of New York. It's not that I love serial plaintiffs; I just believe that the nexus standard used in California is not workable and leads to unpredictable results.
Update on Colorado 21-1110
I usually focus on new cases in my monthly legal updates but it's been slow in the courts and so this would be a good opportunity to catch up on some developments in the state legislatures. First up is Colorado. Back in March, the state passed HB 21-1110, which made Colorado agencies liable in private lawsuits (with liquidated damages) if they used technology that was not accessible. Just the next month, Colorado passed SB 23-244. While the Colorado Office of Information Technology had created TS-OEA-002, which included technical guidance that borrowed heavily from WCAG 2.0 A/AA to help the agencies meet 21-1110, the new SB 23-244 requires that the Colorado CIO engage in a rulemaking to develop clear standards. While rulemaking usually takes time, SB 23-244 didn't extend the July 2024 deadline. So if I worked in the IT section of a Colorado agency, I would be focusing my efforts on the latest version of WCAG A/AA. SB 23-244 also made some other minor tweaks, such as dropping the requirement for agency plans and making it clearer that agencies can be sued for using inaccessible technology.
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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