A law firm that filed more than 100 class actions from early 2012 through 2013 is scratching that ADA itch again with new Title III class suits. Since January of this year, the firm filed seven new lawsuits on behalf of one plaintiff. Each lawsuit alleges that the defendants’ bank branches, located throughout Pennsylvania, are inaccessible to individuals who use wheelchairs.
Most of the banks just sued are familiar with the firm, which brought suit against them on behalf of different plaintiffs for alleged ATM accessibility violations. But these new suits focus on other branch elements such as inaccessible parking lots, obstructed accessible routes, handicap signs that are too low, inaccessible door hardware and entrances, etc. The motivation behind these new suits is unclear. The first lawsuits came about most likely because of the March 2012 deadline for ATMs to comply with new standards under the ADA. Now this firm appears to be looking to make another withdrawal from the banks’ litigation funds by going after other accessibility violations.
Should the firm follow its prior ATM class action strategy, other banks should be prepared for many similar, if not identical, class suits to be filed across the country. That said, the plaintiff may have more of an uphill battle to proceed on a class basis in these cases because every branch in a bank system is likely to be different with respect to its date of construction, alterations, and architectural barriers — thus undermining the commonality of the factual and legal issues required to pursue a class case.