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Dominguez v. Banana Republic, LLC

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

April 23, 2020, Decided; April 23, 2020, Filed

1:19-cv-10171-GHW

Opinion

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

GREGORY H. WOODS, United States District Judge:

Although the question presented in this case is novel, it is certainly not unique. Over the past eight months, the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York have been flooded with litigation from a handful of plaintiffs seeking injunctive relief, compensatory damages, and, of course, attorneys' costs and fees for alleged failures by numerous retail and service establishments to sell accessible gift cards.1 Much of this litigation is premised on the meritless argument that Title III of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12181, et seq., requires retailers to create specialty goods for the visually impaired. Because no read of the ADA supports that allegation, Banana Republic, LLC's motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND [*2] 2

The premise of this case is relatively straightforward. Banana Republic, LLC ("Defendant" or "Banana Republic"), like many other retail businesses, offers consumers the opportunity to purchase "pre-paid cash cards, colloquially referred as 'store gift cards,'" that can be used in place of cash at its stores. First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), Dkt. No. 22, ¶¶ 4 & n.2, 55. Though they look and feel like credit cards, see FAC ¶ 35, they are redeemable only at "a specified merchant or affiliated merchants." FAC ¶ 29 & n.4.

On October 26, 2019, Yovanny Dominguez ("Plaintiff") called Banana Republic's customer service office to ask whether the store sold Braille gift cards. See FAC ¶ 16. An employee told him that Banana Republic did not. See FAC ¶ 16. During that call, the employee did not offer Plaintiff any alternative auxiliary aids or services. See FAC ¶ 17. Sometime later, Plaintiff unsuccessfully attempted to locate accessible Banana Republic gift cards on his own. See FAC ¶ 18. The lack of an accessible gift card deterred Plaintiff from "fully and equally us[ing] or enjoy[ing]" the "facilities, goods, and services Defendant offers to the public at its retail stores." FAC ¶ 42. As soon [*3]  as accessible gift cards are available, however, "Plaintiff intends to immediately go purchase" one. FAC ¶ 45.

Plaintiff sued Banana Republic under the ADA, the New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq., and New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL"), N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-101 et seq., seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, and a permanent injunction to "cause a change in Defendant's corporate policies, practices, and procedures so that Defendant's store gift cards will become and remain accessible to blind and visually-impaired consumers," and, of course, attorney's fees.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72193 *

YOVANNY DOMINGUEZ, individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiff, -v - BANANA REPUBLIC, LLC, Defendant.

CORE TERMS

gift card, Banana, place of public accommodation, website, public accommodation, disabled, retailer, auxiliary, quotation, places, courts, establishments, offers, accommodations, blind, sells, restaurants, enjoyment, words, effective communication, allegations, facilities, injunctive, customer, visited, visual impairment, modifications, regulations, advantages, privileges