WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: cost of lawsuit?


From: Jared Smith
Date: May 22, 2019 11:17AM

> That is, they aren't really interested in fixing accessibility issues and just
> want to pay some money to make the problem go away.

Seems rather shortsighted to me.

> Are there any numbers out there regarding the cost of an accessibility
> lawsuit?

For clients that we've worked with and other interactions with those
involved in such things, it's difficult to imagine a scenario where
fighting the lawsuit would be less expensive than the payoff. This is
all, of course, very unfortunate as it simply pads the pockets of
unscrupulous lawyers and does little to effect change. Most of the
demand letters have asked for amounts in the $1000 - $8000 range. It
would probably cost that much in legal fees just to get to discovery
where the suit *might* be dismissed. And if it isn't dismissed (few
are), then they can spend many 10s of thousands in legal fees, and
then probably lose and thus end up paying the settlement amount, plus
legal fees for all parties, and have to implement accessibility

We have, however, seen some instances where pre-trial negotiations
have resulted in processes to implement accessibility, typically with
a more minimal settlement amount. This would really depend on the
litigant - most these days seem to be after the pay-off rather than
actual accessibility.

> If you do settle and pay whatever fines and costs, are you really done?
> Your site is still not accessible. Does "double jeopardy" protect you from
> another ADA lawsuit?

No! We know of entities that have settled a lawsuit, implemented a
full accessibility plan with great results, and then received another
demand letter over trivial, automatically-detectable errors. It seems
good accessibility isn't even a suitable protection any more.