Wave of ADA suits over retailer gift cards lacking Braille version

Over a period of eight days last fall, four law firms and associated clients who had earlier filed hundreds of web accessibility suits in New York launched a new wave of more than 100 putative class actions charging that retailers are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by offering gift cards but failing to provide Braille versions. [Minh N. Vu and John W. Egan, Seyfarth Shaw]

Typically, according to the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY), “a successful plaintiff in [a local web accessibility] settlement will receive only $500 per case, but attorney’s fees average many times that amount, approximately $16,000 per case or more, depending on the law firm, the court and other factors, thereby giving plaintiff’s lawyers ample incentive to file as many cases as possible.” One attorney has made about a million dollars a year this way over eight years. “The targets selected by plaintiffs in this new wave run the full gamut of retail establishments, including big box retailers, grocery stores, movie theaters, restaurants, clothing brands, and online gaming and other services.” [Ryan P. Phair, M. Brett Burns & Torsten M. Kracht, Hunton Andrews Kurth]


  • If these lawsuits have enough success they could destroy the US economy. Everything sold retail or online must be fully accessible regardless of disability.

    As drinking fountains have been lower to allow access by short or wheelchair bound people I’ve thought my 6’8″ brother in law should start suing for back pains having to fold himself in half to reach the fountain.

    It seems if these accessibility lawsuits start getting real court wins (as opposed to just extorting some money from the businesses) Congress is going to have to decide how much accessibility the corner mom and pop store needs to provide.

    • “Congress is going to have to decide how much accessibility the corner mom and pop store needs to provide.”

      The accessibility at issue here can’t be provided by the retail outlets, whether that’s the mom & pop corner grocery or Walmart. Braille labeling would have to be provided by the product manufacturers. Retailers can’t provide braille versions if they don’t exist..

  • Hopefully not to give anybody ideas, but what’s next, every gift card must contain a builtin mpo3 player and speaker so it ca talk to the deaf?

    • LOL

      The deaf can read the text on the card like everyone else.

  • Going through the same thing here in South Florida, with accessibility parking (we only have 4 parking spots). Myself a small warehouse owner that rents to a small family auto repair, that was built in 1967, with no “0” improvements, that should not have to conform to “ADA” regulations, by their own guidelines, but I must spend Thousands of dollars (which I’m out of money, now) to fight this. Was told I could use a credit card to pay up. So…. Wrong!!!!!! I am now in the process of selling my building, which has been in the family for 53 years, so I can pay off the extortionist. The auto repair business, which is also family run (husband & wife) with no employees are closing their doors also. Can’t believe the Government is allowing this to go on and as stated by Thomas Wicklund, going to destroy the small family business and putting them into poverty. Someone needs to wake up before it is too late. I myself will never go into business myself. I can’t sleep and lost over 10 lbs. in the last 3 months. It’s time for our laws of protection, to be reformed.

  • […] expanded the previous post in this space on Braille gift cards into a longer Cato post with a bit more on the politics and history of the ADA (Americans with […]