On Friday, Milton Williams filed a class-action complaint in the Southern District of New York against Plant Delights Nursery claiming on behalf of himself and others who are visually impaired or blind that the company has not provided a website which is accessible to the class, as is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Over 8 million people in the United States are visually impaired, 2 million of which are blind, the complaint explained, further, 400,000 visually impaired people live in New York and are eligible to be part of the New York sub-class. Reportedly, the plaintiff and other members in the class use screen-reading software to read a website, however, the defendant’s website does not work with the software and they are not able to access the website without outside aid.
The complaint cited a letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd who said that the Department of Justice interprets the ADA to say that “goods, services, privileges, or activities provided by places of public accommodation be equally accessible to people with disabilities.” The plaintiff claimed that non-compliant websites cause barriers keeping visually-impaired people from accessing goods.
Williams asked the court to grant a permanent injunction against the nursery, requiring it to alter its website so it can be rendered into text to be compatible with screen reading programs and to be in compliance with the ADA. The plaintiff is also seeking compensatory damages and the costs of the lawsuit.
The plaintiff claimed that depriving the class of access to their plants through the internet “increas(es) the sense of isolation and stigma” and that the “discrimination is particularly acute during the current COVID-19 global pandemic,” when individuals with disabilities are encouraged to stay at home. “This underscores the importance of access to online retailers, such as Defendant, for this especially vulnerable population,” the complaint said.
Williams, represented by Gottlieb & Associates, demanded a jury trial to address the issues he raised in the complaint.