Lawsuits over making websites more accessible for disabled

disabled websiteA number of websites are facing lawsuits that claim the sites aren’t easily accessible for disabled users. For example, Vox and The Hollywood Reporter say that Beyonce was sued in January over her website being inaccessible because it has a “purely visual interface.” As you may know, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires websites to be more accessible and consider those which aren’t in violation of the civil rights of disabled users because they limit communication and participation in society. The National Associations of the Deaf has also sued Netflix, by not providing equal access to its “watch instantly” streaming video. You might think the problem would be getting better with awareness, but Vox reports it’s only getting worse. 

ADA lawsuit against Florida Board of Bar Examiners can proceed

A lawsuit against the Florida Board of Bar Examiners that claims applicants with mental health conditions must undergo invasive procedures in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be allowed to proceed, the ABA Journal reports. The lawsuit, brought by former Army captain and law student Julius Hobbs, claims he would have to submit to a range of expensive medical and mental evaluations for his bar application to be considered.
The Florida Board of Bar Examiners told Hobbs that it needed all of his medical records. Also, he would need to submit a full medical evaluation, which would include a psychiatric evaluation, a substance disorder use evaluation, a complete physical examination and psychosocial testing, according to the order. The exams had to be done by one of 11 doctors specified by the board, and Hobbs would need to pay for it, with the procedures costing up to $5,000.
Hobbs says his mental health issues, including adjustment issues, anxiety, mood disorders and excessive alcohol use, stemmed from working with explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners had moved to dismiss the lawsuit, but Federal Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that it could proceed after dismissing the Florida Supreme Court as a defendant. Read more at the ABA Journal. 

American Immigration Council demands Trump family separation policies

ICE agents immigrationThe Trump administration’s plans around family separation and reunification of separated family members have been hidden from the public and Freedom of Information Act requests for information about their policies and procedures have gone unanswered. In response, the American Immigration Council filed a lawsuit today on behalf of a coalition of immigration groups demanding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release policies, guidance, and data regarding the practice of family separation. The lawsuit, filed by the Council and international law firm WilmerHale in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to compel the agencies to produce documents in response to FOIA requests submitted in April. The requests, filed by the Council, in collaboration with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, National Immigrant Justice Center, Kids in Need of Defense, Women’s Refugee Commission, and WilmerHale asked for information including but not limited to:

1. Records related to any past, current, or planned policy, guidance, or recommendations regarding the separation of families who arrive at the border, including ports of entry.

2. Systems for tracking children and adult family members who are separated.

3. Policies and protocols related to efforts to reunite separated family members.

4. Training of ICE and CBP officers regarding screening of adult family members for referral for criminal prosecution for immigration violations.

5. Training regarding treatment of family members and minor children in ICE or CBP custody who have been separated.

6. Practices and protocols for coordinating communication (telephonic, video, or in-person) between a detained adult family member and a related minor child, following separation.

7. Coordination among CBP, ICE, DHS, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice regarding the processing and handling of the separation of adult family members from related minor children.

8. Practices or protocols for verifying a family relationship prior to or after separation.

9. Data regarding the number of minor children separated from adult family members; the number of referrals of adult family members for criminal prosecution where families were separated; the number of referrals for credible fear interviews after separation; and the number of children and parents who departed the United States after separation.

10. Complaints received by the agencies regarding the separation of families.

“The government has taken thousands of immigrant children—including infants—from their parents yet there is no known system for how this vulnerable population is being managed and when the parents can expect to be reunited with their children—if ever,” said Emily Creighton, the Council’s deputy legal director. “This lawsuit intends to uncover documents supporting the policies that the government would rather remain hidden from view. Among them are justifications for family separation, communication among agencies detailing coordinated efforts to separate families, and comprehensive data showing the systemic implementation of family separation and removal.”

Idaho law voiding living wills for pregnant women is challenged

Some states have a law that voids an advance directive living will for pregnant women, and a group is suing one of them, the state of Idaho. According to Slate, at least nine other states have laws that invalidate advance directives for pregnant women. Legal Voice is suing Idaho, claiming the law violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. The organization says basing a law on a person’s sex gives women fewer rights. Read more about the lawsuit at

CA man awarded $5M in disability discrimination lawsuit

A former employee of a cellular company won $5 million in a disability discrimination lawsuit against his former employer in California. Stephen Colucci was a T-Mobile retail store manager for seven years.  In July 2014, Colucci’s new regional manager told him that he was being transferred to another work location – a T-Mobile kiosk located inside the Ontario Mills Mall.  Colucci suffers from agoraphobia, PTSD, and panic disorder based on witnessing a stabbing incident when he was a teenager.  Colucci disclosed his disability to his new supervisor, and to Human Resources and offered to transfer to a different location or to remain in the store he was managing.  He was not transferred to the kiosk but he was thereafter verbally harassed and mocked by the new supervisor.  Colucci lodged a harassment complaint to T-Mobile’s integrity line hotline and confronted his new supervisor about the harassment.  Within hours of learning about Colucci’s complaint, the new supervisor terminated his employment, allegedly based on a violation of the company’s conflict of interest policy.  Colucci established that the stated reason was pretextual and that the real reason he was terminated was based on retaliatory motives. T-Mobile retaliated against Colucci by terminating him within hours of making complaints about his new supervisor.  T-Mobile’s Human Resources Department did not investigate the complaints and supported the new supervisor’s decision to terminate Colucci. T-Mobile’s internal paperwork indicated that “litigation was probable” at the time of termination.   In addition, T-Mobile’s loss prevention team discussed the termination decision on a recorded conference call and a loss prevention manager reported on the call that Colucci was terminated for making complaints. National Trial Lawyers member Pat Barrera of Barrera and Associates in El Segundo represented Colucci. The Superior Court awarded Colucci $5,020,042.00 in damages in October 2017.  The court also denied T-Mobile’s post-trial motions for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in December 2017.  Plaintiff’s motion for fees and costs is pending.

NA Top 40 member involved in Intel lawsuit over security defect

The National Advocates Top 40 Under 40 member Leslie Pescia is on a legal team that has filed a lawsuit against computer chipmaker Intel because of a security flaw, according to a news release from the Beasley Allen law firm. MONTGOMERY, ALA. (January 9, 2018) – Lawyers from Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., have filed a federal lawsuit against Intel Corporation after the company admitted a defect in its central processing units (CPU) used in personal computers leaves users’ sensitive, private and secure information vulnerable to hackers. Shortcuts the company used while designing the processors created the defect known as “Meltdown.” The complaint alleges that Intel deceptively marketed its processors as some of the fastest available on the market, despite knowing the flawed design would require a “patch,” which can slow personal computer processing down by as much as 30 percent. Beasley Allen lawyers W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who is head of the firm’s Consumer Fraud Section, and National Advocates Top 40 Under 40 member Leslie Pescia represent named Plaintiff PC users Richard Reis and Zachary Finer in the class action litigation. “Untold millions of computer owners have just learned that their computer product contains a significant defect in the Intel CPU that has caused a glaring security risk in their computer. Even if it is allegedly repaired by Intel software updates, it will suffer significant performance degradation,” Miles said. “Simply, purchasers of these products either must replace their computer or suffer from poor performance on their defective computer, neither of which they bargained for when they purchased a computer with the Intel CPU.” Earlier this month, PC users learned about the defect that was discovered last June by Jann Horn, a security analyst working for Google. Among its many functions, the CPU allows the computer’s operating system to interact with its hardware. The CPU dedicates some of its processing power for this task, which is called kernel memory. When a PC user executes a command the kernel memory carries out the command. This requires the PC to switch between different modes – an action Intel worked to make as fast and efficient as possible. During the design, Intel introduced shortcuts, or design defects, that sacrificed security for processor speed in all its CPUs manufactured since 2004. The design defects allow low-privilege processes access to the kernel memory. Because of the design defects, hackers and the malicious software they develop gain the ability to spy on computer processes and any information preserved on the PC’s or server’s physical memory. Hackers can easily gain access to information including passwords, usernames and sensitive personal information – making users vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. Information may even be vulnerable in real time. Companies that design operating systems are currently developing the “patches” that can help protect users against the vulnerability “Meltdown” created, but the added security will reverse the feature that made the CPUs fast. The complaint is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, case number CV-00074-SVK.