By Kristina M. Launey

On October 9, 2012, Netflix entered into a consent decree with National Association of the Deaf (“NAD”), to resolve the Massachusetts District Court case in which NAD and Lee Nettles alleged Netflix violated Title III of the ADA by failing to provide adequate closed captioning on its “Watch Instantly” web only video streaming service.  This consent decree comes just months after the District Court’s June 19, 2012 ruling (reported here) in that same case that “Watch Instantly,” is a “place of public accommodation” covered under Title III of the ADA. In addition to interim deadlines, the consent decree provides that by September 30, 2014, Netflix will ensure that 100% of its On-demand Streaming Content in its library in the U.S. is captioned or subtitled.  The Consent Decree indicates that Netflix paid $755,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs and $40,000 to NAD to monitor compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree.

The sister Cullen v. Netflix, Inc. case in Northern District of California, which held in June 2012, contrary to the Massachusetts’ court’s holding, that a video streaming website is not an actual physical place and therefore is not covered by the ADA, is still active.  (We reported that decision here on June 22).  Netflix’s Motion to Dismiss Mr. Cullen’s Third Amended Compliant – from which all California and ADA discrimination claims and allegations were deleted and only consumer protection claims remain – is currently pending.