[co-author: Susan Ryan]
Seyfarth Synopsis: If ADA Title III federal lawsuit numbers continue to be filed at the current pace, 2018’s total will exceed 2017 by 30%, fueled largely by website accessibility lawsuit continued growth.
We have completed our mid-year analysis of the ADA Title III lawsuit numbers and the results are striking.
ADA Title III Lawsuits (All Types). Plaintiffs filed 4965 federal ADA Title III lawsuits in just the first six months of 2018, as compared to 7,663 for all of 2017. If the filings continue at the same rate, there will be close to 10,000 ADA Title III lawsuits for all of 2018 – a 30% increase over 2017.
[Graph: ADA Title III Lawsuits in Federal Court: 2013-2018: 2013: 2722; 2014: 4436, 63% increase over 2013; 2015: 4789, 8% increase over 2014; 2016: 6601, 37% increase over 2015; 2017: 7663, 16% increase over 2016; 2018: 4965 Federal ADA Title III lawsuits filed through June 2018, 30% Projected Increase over 2017 *Number of projected lawsuits based on current average filing.]
In addition, for the first six months of 2018, New York (1026 lawsuits) has overtaken Florida (882 lawsuits) for the honor of having the second highest number of ADA Title III lawsuits, with California (2155 lawsuits) retaining its number one position as the most busy jurisdiction for ADA Title III filings.
[Graph: Top 10 States for ADA Title III Federal Lawsuits January – June 2018: CA 2155, NY 1026, FL 882, AZ 87, PA 73, TX 68, GA 65, LA 57, MA 49, NJ 48.]
ADA Title III Lawsuits (Website Accessibility). Plaintiffs filed more website accessibility lawsuits in federal court for the first six months of 2018 than in all of 2017. There were at least 1053 of such lawsuits in the first six months of 2018, compared to 814 in all of 2017. If the filings continue at this rate, there could be more than 2000 website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal court for 2018.
[Graph: Federal Website Accessibility Lawsuits 2017 v. 2018 (First Six Months): 2017: 814; First Half of 2018: 1054.]
The New York federal courts have the most website accessibility lawsuits (630 lawsuits). The Florida courts lag behind with only 342 lawsuits, and the remaining 10 states have anywhere from 1 to 24 lawsuits apiece.
[Graph: Federal Website Access Lawsuits January – June 2018: At Least 1053 Lawsuits: Ca 5, FL 342, GA 1, IL 6, MA 21, NY 630, OH 4, OR 5, PA 24, TX 7, VA 7, NC 1.]
Website accessibility lawsuits are only partly responsible for the increase in the overall number of ADA Title III lawsuits. We continue to see many lawsuits about the accessibility of public accommodations physical facilities. We have recently seen a number of class action lawsuits about hotel shuttle services and online hotel reservations systems.
Our Methodology: Our overall ADA Title III lawsuit numbers come from the federal court’s docketing system, PACER. However, because the area of law code that covers ADA Title III cases also includes ADA Title II cases, our research department reviews the complaints to remove those cases from the count. Our website accessibility lawsuit data comes from searches using key words in the Courthouse New Service database which we then manually analyze. Both processes result in lists of cases that we know exist, but there may be a few we have missed. In addition, our review did not include any accessibility cases brought in state courts under state law such as California’s Unruh Act that were not removed to federal court.