'ADApt Your Website': Key Takeaways From The Domino's Website Litigation

Author:Mr Blake Cushing
Profession:Proskauer Rose LLP

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently issued a decision holding that the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") applies to websites that connect customers to goods and services offered at a physical location.

In Robles v. Domino's Pizza LLC, the plaintiff, who is blind, brought suit against Domino's for failing to "design, construct, maintain, and operate its [website and app] to be fully accessible to and independently usable by Mr. Robles and other blind or visually-impaired people," in violation of the ADA. Plaintiff, who utilized screen-reading software that vocalized information on websites, tried unsuccessfully on at least two occasions to order a customized pizza from a Domino's Pizza location.

The trial court granted summary judgment for Domino's. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit considered 1) whether the ADA applies to websites and apps, 2) due process implications of applying the ADA to websites, and 3) jurisdictional concerns.

Key takeaways are as follows:

The ADA Applies to Websites and Apps that Facilitate Access to Goods and Services at a Physical Location The Court clarified that the ADA applies to the services of a place of public accommodation, not merely services that occur in a place of public accommodation, noting that Domino's website and app facilitated access to delivery or pickup at Domino's brick-and-mortar location, which was itself a place of public accommodation. Thus, the Court found a sufficient enough nexus between Domino's website and app and its offered goods and services to determine that the ADA did indeed apply.

In short, if a company's website or app offers customers a direct link to services offered at a physical location, the ADA applies, and the company should include ways to make the website accessible to disabled persons.

The ADA does not Apply to Websites that are not Linked to a Physical Place in which to Access Goods and Services In its analysis of the nexus between Domino's website and its offered goods and services, the Court noted that the ADA only covers "actual, physical places where goods or services are open to the public, and places where the public gets those goods or services." Citing Weyer v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., in which the ADA was held not to apply to a company's allegedly discriminatory insurance policy, the Robles Court emphasized that the insurance policy did not concern accessibility to the company's physical address, nor was the...

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