Over 50 complaints have been filed since the beginning of 2015 against well-known retailers for allegedly failing to make their websites accessible to the blind. One law firm is responsible for 18 such complaints. But power tools retailer Harbor Freight Tools USA Inc. is using every tool it has to fight back.
Harbor Freight filed suit against Carlson Lynch Sweet & Kilpela LLP after receiving a letter from the firm, which claimed that one or more disabled clients were unable to access the retailer’s website.
Carlson Lynch wrote that the lack of access constituted a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It told Harbor Freight it could avoid a lawsuit by entering into a settlement agreement, in which Harbor Freight would make changes to its site and pay the firm an attorney’s fee.
Harbor Freight responded by asking Carlson Lynch to disclose the disabled clients’ identities and specify which website transactions they were unable to complete. The complaint said Carlson Lynch refused.
The retailer also said it ran an audit to evaluate the law firm’s website accessibility and—ironically—found “errors.”
“I shouldn't have to remind you that law firms are specifically identified in the ADA as ‘public accommodations’ subject to the same rules you assert apply to retailers,” counsel for Harbor Freight said.
The fight has escalated; Carlson Lynch filed suit 15 days after Harbor Freight filed its complaint.
The Harbor Freight complaint “seems intended to have a chilling effect on the words and actions of accessibility rights advocates,” one of the defendants told Bloomberg BNA March 25. “This action seems to be a gimmick of last resort.”
The law firm’s website is also displaying a notice of its ADA compliance policy on its landing page.
Counsel for Harbor Freight didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time.
Back in February, restaurant chain Mazzio’s LLC filed a similar complaint against Carlson Lynch. But Mazzio’s withdrew its complaint two days after filing.
Harbor Freight filed its complaint March 1. As of now, it’s still active.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)