Banks that have not previously done so should consider conducting ADA Title III accessibility reviews of their bank branches in consultation with legal counsel.
A Pittsburgh-based law firm, which has filed more than 100 class action lawsuits under Title III of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) in federal district courts throughout the United States against banks on behalf of a plaintiff who alleged that the banks' ATMs were inaccessible, has picked up where it left off by filing different ADA Title III class actions against banks. The new ADA Title III class actions contend that the defendant banks' branch locations are physically inaccessible to individuals in wheelchairs.
In the past few weeks, the Carlson Lynch law firm has filed seven such class action lawsuits in the federal district court in Pittsburgh, all against banks the law firm had previously sued for alleged ATM accessibility violations. All of the new lawsuits involve the same plaintiff, Damian M. Zipf, who, according to the complaints, is dependent upon a motorized wheelchair for mobility. Zipf maintains that he has been deterred from patronizing the bank branches because of certain accessibility barriers. In these newly filed wheelchair accessibility class actions, the plaintiff is alleging a variety of general ADA accessibility violations, including, but not limited to, inaccessible parking lots; handicap signs that are too low; inaccessible door hardware and entrances; and obstructed accessible routes. In each lawsuit, the plaintiff claims to have visited a number of bank branches and has alleged specific ADA violations at each location.
If the plaintiff and plaintiff's law firm follow the same strategy that was used in the ADA ATM lawsuits, it is anticipated that identical class action lawsuits will be filed against banks throughout the country over the course of the coming months and years, including many of the same banks already sued in the ATM matters. Banks that have not previously done so should consider conducting ADA Title III accessibility reviews of their bank branches in consultation with legal counsel.