By Catherine M. Corfee, Esq.

Corfee Stone Law Corp (916) 487-5441


Serving all of California

Several California disabled plaintiffs are suing out of state businesses, like New York, over their alleged inaccessible websites. The disabled plaintiff has no intention of going to that State to engage in business at the store or building. Notorious filer Jose Casillas is one of those disabled plaintiffs! Jose Casillas is visually impaired and lives in Los Angeles. He generally alleges that several web pages are not compatible with his screen-reading technology. Jose Casillas usually claims he tried to access information about the defendant’s business but could not and he felt like a second-class citizen. The issue is whether the ADA applies to an out of state business that has a website but no business building or place in California?

The ADA prohibits disability discrimination with respect to accessibly to a “place of public accommodation.” The term “place” means just that, a business at a place like in a building (cloaked “brick and motor”). The California Courts have interpreted the ADA as applying to only those businesses that have a place, not to “on-line” only businesses. The rationale is that the website serves a “place of public accommodation.” The question arises when a business has a place out of state and a California disabled resident seeks to purchase something on line but complains that the website is not accessible. In general, for example, a visually impaired may sue because the person needs the website to be compatible with his/her software that may allow the person to listen to text being read. The disabled have their own programs that enable them to use websites.

The question arises when a California plaintiff has no intention of going to an out of state business (brick and motor building) and sues for ADA violations of their website. It is my opinion that the ADA will not apply because the website is being used “on-line” only where the individual has no intention of visiting the business. Congress has not passed any law or regulations for the ADA to apply to on-line businesses and the Court should not expand the law, which is the separate power of Congress.

For ADA Access Legal Advice, please contact Ms. Catherine M. Corfee, Esq.

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