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United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
December 18, 2020, Decided; December 18, 2020, Filed
19 Civ. 11197 (KPF)
OPINION AND ORDER
KATHERINE POLK FAILLA, District Judge:
Plaintiff Joseph Guglielmo brought this action against Defendant Nebraska Furniture Mart, Inc., alleging violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189 (the "ADA"), and the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y.C. Admin. Code §§ 8-101 to 8-131 (the "NYCHRL"). Plaintiff claims that a website operated by Defendant denies equal access to blind and visually-impaired customers. Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint under two different subparts of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b): Rule 12(b)(1), for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and Rule 12(b)(2), for lack of personal jurisdiction. In relevant part, Defendant argues that Plaintiff lacks standing to bring an ADA claim; that Plaintiff's claims have been or will be mooted by Defendant's remediation; and that New York has neither general jurisdiction nor specific [*2] jurisdiction over Defendant. For the reasons discussed herein, Defendant's motion to dismiss is granted.
A. Factual Background
Plaintiff is a blind and visually-impaired individual who resides in Suffolk County, New York. (Compl. ¶¶ 11-12). Defendant is a furniture and appliances retailer incorporated and with a principal place of business in Nebraska. (Id. at ¶ 21; Douglas Decl. ¶¶ 3-4). In addition to maintaining several physical stores, none of which is located in New York State (Douglas Decl. ¶ 4), Defendant operates the website www.nfm.com (the "Website"), through which it offers products and services for online sale and delivery to consumers. (Compl. ¶¶ 21-22). The Website provides information about the products available for sale, including descriptions and prices, and allows users to browse for items. (Id. at ¶ 22).
On multiple occasions before filing his Complaint, the most recent of which was in December 2019, Plaintiff visited the Website to make a purchase. (Compl. ¶ 24). According to Plaintiff, he was unable to determine which of Defendant's products were offered for sale due to the Website's lack of certain features and accommodations that aid people with [*3] visual impairments in their navigation of websites. (Id.). Specifically, many features on the Website lacked "alt. text," the code embedded beneath a graphical image that allows Plaintiff to differentiate among the products listed on a screen. (Id. at ¶ 25). Plaintiff found these issues to be particularly acute when attempting, unsuccessfully, to make a purchase. (Id.). Certain features on the Website also failed to include elements or attributes that enable blind and visually-impaired individuals to identify the purpose of a webpage or to determine when content requires user input. (Id. at ¶ 26). Further, many webpages on the Website contained the same title elements, which make it difficult for the visually impaired to distinguish among webpages. (Id. at ¶ 27). Lastly, the Website contained a number of "broken" links that hyperlinked to non-existent or empty webpages, and had the effect of preventing Plaintiff from returning to his original search. (Id. at ¶ 28). Because of these access barriers, Plaintiff argues that he was effectively denied the ability to use and enjoy Defendant's website in the same way that sighted individuals do. (Id. at ¶ 29).
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 238707 *; 2020 WL 7480619
JOSEPH GUGLIELMO, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, -v.- NEBRASKA FURNITURE MART, INC., Defendant.
Subsequent History: Request denied by, Costs and fees proceeding at Guglielmo v. Neb. Furniture Mart, Inc., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171242 (S.D.N.Y., Sept. 9, 2021)
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