Oct. 22—HIGH POINT — High Point University has reached an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit alleging that the university’s website was not fully accessible to the visually impaired.
Note that a settlement between HPU and Emanuel Delacruz of New York was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on October 14, and Delacruz filed a notice of voluntary termination this week.
The terms of the settlement have not been filed.
The lawsuit, filed in August, was part of a wave of similar nationwide lawsuits that began in 2017 after a federal judge in Florida ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires retailers to create ” public accommodations” on their websites for people with disabilities. Delacruz himself has been a plaintiff in dozens of such lawsuits, and his attorney, Jeffrey Gottlieb, has filed hundreds.
Legal news website Law360 reported in March that there was a steady stream of new lawsuits filed by what it called “career litigants” against targets of all sizes and from all industries.
Federal law prevents plaintiffs in ADA lawsuits from recovering damages at trial, but a defendant may be required to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees. A lawyer with experience in defending against such lawsuits told Law360 that most defendants settle and pay $5,000 to $25,000 just to avoid the risk that these costs could arise.
But advocates for the blind and visually impaired say the problem cited in the lawsuits is real. Website designs are often not fully compatible with “screen readers”, programs that read web content aloud or render it on a separate device in Braille.