Unsurprisingly, as we predicted back in July and September, the Supreme Court has decided it will not hear the Domino’s v. Robles ADA web access case. Domino’s had asked the High Court to take on the case to determine that it had no obligation to ensure its websites were accessible to persons with disabilities, and on October 7, 2019, the Court officially declined.
As noted then, it was unlikely the Court would take this case on because it didn’t legally merit its attention. While there are thousands of new digital accessibility cases filed each year, the decisions are rather consistent among the federal district courts, and there is not a dispute of law at the appellate level. And now that we have certainty on Domino’s, we’ve peered closer into our crystal ball to see what will happen next.
The Domino’s battle may be over, but the war over digital accessibility will continue. So, what’s next?
First, we expect to continue to see an uptick in the number of digital accessibility lawsuits filed each year. The decision by the Court to not hear Domino’s case will be viewed as a victory by the plaintiff’s bar and is likely to embolden efforts. At the same time, organizations interested in limiting the legal accessibility requirements will be looking for other vehicles to take to the U.S. Courts of Appeals to develop the cert-necessary circuit split for the High Court to decide in a future case. In short, we can expect much more litigation.
Second, we expect businesses, governments, and other entities covered by the ADA to take the Court’s decision as a cue that the legal status quo will be the law of the land for some time, and good digital accessibility practices are a must. The focus for many organizations will move from how they can avoid this obligation, to how they can implement it. We expect there to be a significant market to develop and retain highly knowledgeable digital accessibility experts in order to prevent litigation and maintain compliance.
Third, we expect more cases to settle early after a case is filed. Defendants in digital accessibility cases may be able to avoid the obligation to pay plaintiffs attorney’s fees if appropriately resolved early enough under the Supreme Court’s decision in Buckhannon. Time is of the essence in order to take advantage of the Buckhannon doctrine, so it is as important as ever to consult with digital accessibility experts as soon as there is a likelihood or actual litigation.