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United States District Court for the District of Vermont
March 19, 2015, Decided; March 19, 2015, Filed
Case No. 2:14-cv-162
[*566] Opinion and Order
Plaintiffs National Federation of the Blind ("NFB") and Heidi Viens, a member of NFB residing in Colchester, Vermont, brought this suit against Scribd, Inc. ("Scribd"). The Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges [*567] that Scribd has violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12182, because its website and mobile applications ("apps") are inaccessible to the blind.
Scribd has moved to dismiss the Complaint with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure [**2] to state a claim. ECF No. 13. Scribd argues that the Plaintiffs have not alleged facts demonstrating that it owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation because the ADA does not apply to website operators whose goods or services are not made available at a physical location open to the public. The Court disagrees. For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Scribd's motion to dismiss.
I. Factual Background
According to the Complaint, Scribd is a California-based digital library that operates reading subscription services on its website and on apps for mobile phones and tablets. Scribd's customers pay a monthly fee to gain access to its collection of over forty million titles, including e-books, academic papers, legal filings, and other user-uploaded digital documents.
Scribd's digital software program is accessed over the Internet. The Plaintiffs contend that Scribd's website and apps are inaccessible to the blind because they use an exclusively visual interface and lack any non-visual means of operation. Blind persons generally use screen reader software to convert graphical information found on websites and apps into audio or Braille formats, depending on the user's [**3] preference. According to the Plaintiffs, because Scribd's website and apps are not programmed to be accessible through such software, Scribd is denying blind persons access to all of the services, privileges, advantages, and accommodations that Scribd offers and is excluding them from accessing information critical to their education, employment, and community integration.
Scribd contends that it does not operate any physical location open to the public, nor does the Complaint include such an allegation.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
97 F. Supp. 3d 565 *; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34213 **
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND, on behalf of its members and itself, and HEIDI VIENS, Plaintiffs, v. SCRIBD INC., Defendant.
Subsequent History: Motion denied by, Stay denied by, As moot Nat'l Fed'n of the Blind v. Scribd Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69440 (D. Vt., May 29, 2015)
website, establishment, place of public accommodation, public accommodation, disabilities, open to the public, ambiguous, entities, argues, site, disabled person, physical location, accommodations, technology, leases, places, nexus, space, individuals with disabilities, statutory construction, insurance company, motion to dismiss, civil rights, discriminated, regulations, collection, barriers, canons, courts, blind
Civil Procedure, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Protection of Disabled Persons, Americans With Disabilities Act, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Americans With Disabilities Act, Accommodations, Scope, Business & Corporate Compliance, Labor & Employment Law, Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Deference to Agency Statutory Interpretation