April 28, 2020
Authored by: BCLP, Merrit Jones, Heather Goldman and Steven Stimell
A New York federal court has granted motions to dismiss in four separate cases alleging that the failure to offer gift cards in Braille violates the ADA. The rulings by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory H. Woods (Southern District of New York) all hold that the plaintiffs in those cases failed to state a claim for violation of the ADA, and also lack standing. The rulings allow plaintiffs to file an amended complaint within 15 days.
As we previously reported, the lawsuits were among more than 100 such complaints alleging that failure to offer gift cards in Braille violates Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
ADA Does Not Require Offering Braille Gift Cards
Judge Woods issued the first opinion last Thursday, and the following day issued rulings in the other three cases referencing that opinion. Judge Woods concluded that the complaints failed to state a claim because the ADA does not require retailers to create specialty goods for the visually impaired. In doing so, Judge Woods rejected the three theories advanced by plaintiff: (1) that gift cards are goods that need to be accessible; (2) that gift cards are places of public accommodation that must be independently accessible; and (3) that plaintiff was denied access to the defendant’s services when it denied plaintiff a Braille gift card.
With respect to the first theory, Judge Woods concluded that Title III prohibits a public accommodation from discriminating based on disability when providing “access to” whatever goods and services the