HOUSTON– The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas dismissed a lawsuit filed against Smart Financial Credit Union related to website accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The case is another in which the court ruled the plaintiff did have standing as he seemed to fall in the credit union's field of membership. But the court also determined a website is not a physical place and the credit union would not be liable under the ADA, a ruling credit unions welcome even as they seek further clarification.
"This decision reinforces the need for the Department of Justice to provide clarity on ADA website requirements as different courts continue to come to different conclusions," said NAFCU Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel Carrie Hunt. "NAFCU will continue to press the department for guidance to ensure credit unions feel confident in their website offerings."
NAFCU had earlier filed an amicus brief in the case, and has filed 16 such briefs across different states to support credit unions targeted by ADA website accessibility litigation. So far, in nine of those cases the complaint against the credit union has been dismissed, though in many cases it was on the issue of standing.
As CUToday.info reported earlier here, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against the Department of Labor Federal Credit Union (DOLFCU) related to website accessibility standards. In that case, the court determined the plaintiff lacked standing to bring the lawsuit as he did not fall within the credit union's field of membership and could not become a member.
As CUToday.info also reported here, credit unions are sifting through a separate ruling in a case involving Domino’s Pizza and its website/mobile offering to determine what precedent it might set for credit unions facing similar litigation.
Both NAFCU and CUNA continue to press the Department of Justice and Congress to enact rules or pass legislation that would clarify issues around ADA accessibility and digital channels.