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Lawsuits Multiply amid Stalled Regulatory Process on ADA Website Access

New Jersey Law Journal

Baker & Hostetler, Seyfarth Shaw and Shook, Hardy & Bacon are among the firms picking up the pieces as a regulatory vacuum gives rise to a glut of disability suits involving websites.

Critics have long urged the Department of Justice to issue technical standards to ensure that websites are accessible to visually impaired users who employ screen reader software. But the agency has only issued guidelines that have been called vague and toothless as the number of Americans with Disabilities Act suits against website operators continues to climb.


Regulations setting website accessibility standards have been in the works at the DOJ for many years, but the anti-regulatory approach of the Trump administration halted their development, even though many businesses welcome this type of regulation, said Martin Krezalek of Blank Rome in New York, who represents defendants in website accessibility suits.

“When they stopped the rulemaking processes, these cases exploded. They went from a couple of hundred a year to thousands a year. For the last couple of years, we’ve had over 4,000 a year in federal courts alone,” Krezalek said.

The lack of a legal standard has worked to benefit plaintiffs lawyers bringing website ADA suits, Krezalek said.

“Right now, these plaintiffs lawyers are running free. It’s very easy for them to create a factual issue about whether a website is or is not accessible,” he said.

Krezalek has called on Congress to step into the void created by the Justice Department’s failure to act and pass legislation requiring website operators to meet a standard that would permit visually impaired persons access their sites.

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"Lawsuits Multiply amid Stalled Regulatory Process on ADA Website Access," by Charles Toutant was published in the New Jersey Law Journal on August 9, 2023.

Reprinted in the New York Law Journal on August 10, 2023.