By Kristina M. Launey and Minh N. Vu
Seyfarth Synopsis: Website accessibility lawsuit filings in federal court in 2019 are on track to exceed 2018. Will we see an increase in filings as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the Ninth Circuit’s Order in Robles v. Domino’s?
As of June 30, 2019, we counted 1204 website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal courts since January 1, 2019, for a projected total of 2408 by year end. This would constitute a seven percent increase over 2018’s numbers.
[Graph: ADA Title III Website Accessibility Lawsuits in Federal Court Jan. 1, 2017 to Jun. 30, 2019: 2017: 814; 2018: 2,258, 177% Increase over 2017; 2019: Total: 1,204 as of June 2019, Projected: 2,408, Projected 7% Increase over 2018]
As in past years, New York continued to lead the way, with 676 lawsuits filed from January 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019. Florida and California followed with 336 and 74 lawsuits, respectively.
[Graph: All States Where Federal ADA Title III Website Accessibility Lawsuits Have been Filed Jan. 1 to Jun. 30, 2019: NY: 676; FL: 336; CA: 74; PA: 44; IL: 30; MA: 19; WI: 8; IN: 6; NJ: 4; CN: 2; TX: 2; DC: 1; ID: 1; VA: 1]
There were 5,592 federal ADA Title III lawsuits of all types (not just website accessibility) filed in the first half of 2019, so website accessibility suits make up roughly 22 percent of the overall number of cases.
For the first time, we looked at website accessibility lawsuits by month for 2019 and there was a significant decrease in the number of filings in September: From 272 in August to 135 in September. It may be that attorneys were holding off on filing new lawsuits until the Supreme Court issued its decision regarding Domino’s Petition for Certiorari. On average, seven website accessibility lawsuits were filed in federal court each day in 2019.
[Graph: Total Number of Website Accessibility Lawsuits Filed By Month in 2019 (Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2019): January: 240; February: 211; March: 185; April: 183; May: 197; June: 188; July: 261; August: 272; September: 135; On average, there were approximately 7 website accessibility lawsuits filed per day.]
Many commentators predict that the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of review of the Robles v. Domino’s Ninth Circuit decision will result in a surge of website accessibility lawsuits. To test this theory, we counted the number of lawsuits filed from January 1, 2019 to October 7, 2019 – the date the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. There were 1906 website accessibility lawsuits filed up to and including October 7, 2019, for a daily average of seven filings. We will see how the post-Domino’s number stacks up in the coming months.