In April 2018, a federal judge in the Western District of Virginia presiding over the case of Carroll v. New Peoples Bank, Inc. (NPB), dismissed the website lawsuit that was brought on under Title III Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because the bank had taken the necessary steps to remediate its website and make it accessible to users with impairments.
Keith Carroll, a permanently blind resident of Virginia, uses screen reader technology to navigate the internet. When Mr. Carroll attempted to visit the New People’s Bank website he claimed that he was unable to browse the site. Carroll stated his inability to navigate the website was due to the lack of alternative (alt) text for its images, web forms not being properly labeled, and repetitive links to the URL, which caused significant redundancies for disabled users who rely on a keyboard-only operation and screen reader technology. Carroll, who had essentially filed the same lawsuit in other Virginia court districts against several other credit unions and banks, was seeking injunctive relief as well as unspecified monetary damages that were to include costs and his attorneys’ fees.
Before filing this lawsuit, Mr. Carroll had sent a demand letter to NPB regarding their website’s accessibility. Shortly after receiving this demand letter, the bank voluntarily hired a third-party accessibility firm to begin their site’s accessibility remediation. It was stated that Mr. Carroll had been informed of this information before he filed the lawsuit against NPB.
NPB argued that this case be dismissed, initially based on findings in a previous lawsuit that Mr. Carroll filed in Virginia’s Eastern District court that had, amongst other grounds, stated that websites are not “places of public accommodation under the ADA.” However, following the verdict in the Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. case, this dismissal request was amended based on lack of standing—or showing sufficient connection to and harm from NPB’s actions.
Judge James P. Jones declared the case moot based on jurisdictional grounds, as Mr. Carroll live more than 300 miles away from the nearest NPB branch, and because the financial institution had taken voluntary measures to repair its website. In his decision, Judge Jones stated that “NPB contends that, in any event, Carroll’s claim is now moot based on its voluntary upgrades made to the website after this action was filed, which upgrades Carroll does not dispute. I agree.”
Note: This posting is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice
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1. Casetext, Carroll v. New People’s Bank, Inc., https://casetext.com/case/carroll-v-new-peoples-bank-inc
2. Sec Info, New Peoples Bankshares Inc, http://www.secinfo.com/d1kHG3.j69.18.htm
3. USLegal, Inc., Standing Law and Legal Definition, https://definitions.uslegal.com/s/standing/