The first ATM accessibility class-action lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") were filed in federal district court in Michigan earlier this month. The class-action lawsuits request a permanent injunction requiring the defendants to bring their ATMs into full compliance with the ADA requirements, request that a future compliance-monitoring program be put in place, and also request an unspecified award of costs and attorney's fees.
These new lawsuits follow a wave of similar suits brought by the same plaintiffs' attorney against financial institutions operating in western Pennsylvania and Ohio. The two Michigan lawsuits specifically quote a March 2012 Wall Street Journal article that claims that nearly 50 percent of the more than 400,000 ATMs in the United States are inaccessible to the visually impaired, despite the fact that new standards regarding accessibility of ATMs for the visually impaired went into effect on March 15, 2011. Under these new standards, all ATMs were required to be upgraded to meet the new requirements by March 15, 2012. Among other items, the new ADA requirements mandate that ATMs be speech-enabled, such that all operating instructions, visible transaction prompts, input verification, and error messages are accessible by individuals with impaired vision. In addition, the ADA ATM requirements call for specific input controls, mandate a particular layout for numeric keypads, and provide specific requirements for the display screen.
For further information regarding these lawsuits or the ADA requirements for ATMs, please contact Ronald DeWaard, Brion Doyle, any member of Varnum's Banking Services Practice Group, or your Varnum attorney.