Amid the holiday cheer this year, you may have noticed longer shipping times and more items out of stock, even as you’ve ordered more online than in the past. Businesses and consumers alike have learned over the past 21 months that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to supply chain bottlenecks and hampered delivery times. Companies often have no control over these delays, but a recent $950,000 settlement between the State of California and Yeezy Apparel LLC/Yeezy LC (Yeezy) — an apparel and shoe company owned by Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) — highlights the need for businesses to plan ahead and remain vigilant when promising swift delivery of products. Most importantly, internet retailers must work with manufacturing and shipping partners and ensure that websites and confirmation emails accurately convey information. The Yeezy case provides a cautionary tale for businesses that may promise quick delivery of products that consumers purchase online.
Continue Reading Yeezy Settlement Highlights Potential Pitfalls of Shipping Delays Amid the Pandemic

Plaintiffs continue to file website accessibility lawsuits at a rapid pace, but two recent decisions in New York federal court may reduce certain types of filings in that forum.[1] In these cases, both out of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the courts held that websites are not “places of public of accommodation” covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and on that basis, granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss. The decisions cited a recent case from the Eleventh Circuit,[2] but more notably, disagreed with prior New York district court decisions that applied the ADA to websites even when those websites were not paired with a physical location (e.g., a brick-and-mortar store).[3] As we have highlighted, courts across the country have applied varying standards regarding whether the ADA applies to such standalone websites. Certain courts, most notably the Ninth Circuit,[4] require a physical nexus between the website and a physical retail location to invoke the ADA. To be sure, some jurisdictions still favor plaintiffs on this issue, but these two decisions could limit filings in district courts within the Second Circuit and may potentially signal broader changes regarding ADA website litigation.
Continue Reading Recent New York Federal Court Decisions Hold that the ADA Does Not Cover Websites

In March, the Supreme Court addressed the test for specific personal jurisdiction in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court.[1] The Court considered whether the test’s second prong — which requires that a plaintiff’s claims “arise out of or relate to” the defendant’s forum contacts — requires strict causation.

The Court rejected a strict causation requirement, but the analysis remains fact-intensive. The opinion appears to indicate that defendants may still be able to defeat the contention that the court has specific personal jurisdiction when their intended footprint is regional or their contacts are limited to certain persons or products. We review the Ford decision below and discuss how state courts in Illinois, Texas, and California have applied it.
Continue Reading Personal Jurisdiction: State Court Application of Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court

Plaintiffs are filing an increasing number of lawsuits against companies alleging that their websites violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because the sites are not accessible to visually impaired customers. But these lawsuits assume an answer to an unresolved question: does Title III apply to websites? Title III applies to “places of public accommodation” and prohibits discrimination on the basis of an individual’s disability. Yet neither the statute nor the accompanying regulations state that websites are places of public accommodation, leaving courts (or Congress) to determine whether websites are required to comply with Title III.
Continue Reading ADA Website Litigation: Eleventh Circuit Holds Website is Not Subject to Title III

U.S. companies have been inundated with lawsuits in the past several years alleging that their websites do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and various state laws, including the California Unruh Act. Plaintiffs claim that the websites do not meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) created by the nonprofit World Wide Web Consortium because visually impaired consumers allegedly cannot access the sites using screen-reader software. While it is difficult to determine with precision the number of cases that have been filed, they have increased 75 percent from just over 2,000 reported cases in 2018 to approximately 3,500 in 2020 – and the numbers are steadily rising. The cases target all manner of business across a wide range of industries.
Continue Reading ADA Website Litigation Continues to Proliferate in 2021

After a very difficult 2020, rapid vaccine development has sparked optimism among the public and in the business community. But as we wrote last week, there’s a long road ahead while infections remain high. Today we look at considerations for a new transition period – vaccines becoming more widely available, but before the country achieves herd immunity.
Continue Reading How Companies Can Approach Wider Availability of COVID-19 Vaccines in the Coming Months

As COVID-19 cases have spiked across the country, many businesses have adjusted certain operations with an eye on customer and employee safety, as well as to ensure compliance with recent changes to government orders. Some businesses have faced challenges that they have not seen since last spring. Over the summer, we explained some ways companies could prepare for a potential winter resurgence of the virus. Today we consider how companies may wish to proceed as average daily death totals in the U.S. remain high.
Continue Reading Business Considerations in Light of Increases in COVID-19 Cases

Many companies were caught off-guard in the spring when diagnoses of COVID-19 multiplied rapidly and forced businesses to close or drastically change their policies with little warning. Now companies that have reopened must prepare for the future. As we have seen in recent weeks, resurgences may occur at any time in different parts of the country. And epidemiologists have warned about a potential second wave of infections in the fall.
Continue Reading Reopening and Readjusting: Preparing for a Diagnosis or Resurgence in the Coming Months

In our last post, we discussed policy changes and new procedures that companies should consider as they reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly given the increase in cases in many parts of the country. But companies cannot change policies in a vacuum: they must clearly and effectively communicate these changes to employees, customers, and the public. Clear, written policies will be ineffective if they are not communicated effectively.
Continue Reading Reopening and Readjusting: Communicating COVID-19 Policies to All Stakeholders

Business closures have been immensely difficult for companies of all sizes during the COVID-19 pandemic. But reopening is proving difficult, too, especially given the ever-changing nature of the pandemic. As cases have surged in recent weeks in new parts of the country, businesses have been forced to reassess their operational plans in both the near- and long-term. Owners and executives are paying close attention both to customer and employee safety. And businesses must be mindful of potential legal ramifications of their decisions.
Continue Reading Reopening and Readjusting: What Businesses Should Be Thinking About