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Murphy v. Kohl's Dep't Stores, Inc.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

April 24, 2020, Decided; April 24, 2020, Filed

1:19-cv-09921-GHW

Opinion

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

GREGORY H. WOODS, United States District Judge:

This is another case where a visually impaired person has sued a retailer for failing to stock Braille or otherwise accessible gift cards. Because this complaint suffers from the same pitfalls as those in Dominguez v. Banana Republic, LLC, No. 1:19-CV-10171-GHW, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72193, 2020 WL 1950496 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 23, 2020), the Court comes to the same conclusion and GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND

Like the allegations in Banana Republic, the facts presented [*2]  in the complaint are relatively straightforward.

Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. ("Defendant" or "Kohl's"), like many other retailers, 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. FAC ¶ 4 & n.2. 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 22, 2019, James Murphy ("Plaintiff") called a Kohl's customer service office to ask whether its stores sold Braille gift cards. See FAC ¶ 16. An employee told him that Kohl's 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 Kohl's 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 as accessible gift cards are available, however, "Plaintiff intends to immediately go purchase" [*3]  one. FAC ¶ 45.

Plaintiff sued Kohl's 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. FAC ¶ 10.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73054 *

JAMES MURPHY, on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiff, -against- KOHL'S DEPARTMENT STORES, INC., Defendant.

CORE TERMS

Kohl's, gift card, retail store, asserts, visits, department store, per curiam, articulated, consumers, customer, merchant, retailer, damages, factors, intends, reasons, offers, blind, cards