A case brought against Sony Corp alleging that Sony’s video games violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) was recently dismissed. The complaint had alleged that the user’s visual impairments prevent him from fully enjoying the video games manufactured by Sony, and that Sony’s refusal to accommodate his disability by modifying the video games (as some other video game manufacturers have done, the complaint stated) violated the ADA. In particular, the user had wanted Sony to provide visual and auditory cues that would aid his ability to play Sony’s video games. To prevail on an ADA discrimination claim, a plaintiff must prove that he or she was denied public accommodations by the defendant because of a disability. The Ninth Circuit has interpreted a place of public accommodation to require “some connection between the good or service complained of an actual physical place.” Because Sony was a manufacturer of video games and a provider of online services, the court held that Sony is not a place of public accommodation. Furthermore, the court held that the user was never denied access to conventions or other events organized by Sony in connection with its video games.
TIP: While this court has found that the ADA does not apply to a video game and related online services, other courts concluded that virtual places, such as a website, can be subject to the ADA if there is a sufficient nexus to a physical location.