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

We have previously written about various strategies that defendants use to remove cases to federal court (see here, here, and here). Today we are writing about one that defendants should pursue in cases when the tort occurs on federally owned land: “federal enclave” jurisdiction. Though there is not much case law on the topic, at least three circuit courts and many district courts have held that district courts have original jurisdiction over these matters. And it may be the case that a defendant can make a federal enclave argument in conjunction with other arguments for removal or on its own.
Continue Reading Federal Enclave Jurisdiction: Strategies for Removal to Federal Court When a Tort Occurred on Federal Land

As COVID-19 lawsuits proliferate, businesses and their counsel should prepare for a battle of the experts on causation when there is no direct evidence that a plaintiff’s injury can be attributed to a certain source. As product liability lawyers know, plaintiffs typically must prove both general causation and specific causation in tort cases alleging exposure to a pathogen. General causation requires expert testimony to show that the exposure to something – here the novel coronavirus – can cause the type of injury – COVID-19 – that affected the plaintiff. Specific causation, however, requires something more. To prove specific causation, plaintiffs must be able to attribute their exposure or injury to a particular defendant.
Continue Reading Expert Strategies: Battling Causation in COVID-19 Tort Cases

Businesses across the country are facing challenges, including lawsuits, as they grapple with how COVID-19 has impacted their operations, work forces, and supply chains. The wave of litigation is rising, and it appears that no industry is immune. Schiff Hardin’s Coronavirus Task Force is publishing this series to identify of-the-moment issues and potential liabilities facing businesses as they begin to re-open, transform their processes, and adapt to the new reality.

As businesses start to reopen across the country, customer-facing companies should consider best practices to reduce the risks of customer and employee exposure to the novel coronavirus, the cause of COVID-19. The right approach will differ based on the type of business, the state and local government guidelines and orders in place, and the geographic region in which the business operates. A hair salon in New York City, for example, will need to take different precautions than an outdoor nursery in Anchorage. Companies should develop a thoughtful plan to reduce the chance of exposure to the virus at a business given the ever-evolving scientific understanding of the disease. Here are five ideas that businesses can use to help ensure that their customers and employees remain safe.
Continue Reading Five Approaches to Keep Customers and Employees Safe When Reopening