On November 12, 2020, the Daily Business Review quoted Michael Joblove regarding mobile-app accessibility lawsuits.
According to the article, COVID-19 has put consumers off going to restaurants and retailers. Instead, consumers are now relying more on their devices to access services, which could mean more lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act over the accessibility of mobile apps and websites.
Joblove said he's seen plenty of lawsuits from attorneys he felt were out to make some quick money more than anything else. That's because it's cheaper for defendants to swiftly settle an ADA case than to litigate it. "If they find a violation, they can play 'gotcha.' And even if there is no violation, they can employ economic leverage to foster a settlement, even if it's $10,000 a pop, to make a quick buck," Joblove said. "It's a very good law, but if there's a problem, in fairness, I think there ought to be an opportunity to call it to the operators' attention and give them a chance to fix it.”
The article also mentions that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that the ADA applies to apps—albeit while ruling on a motion to dismiss—as long as the website is providing services or goods the same way it does in a physical store.
But Joblove questions the case law in certain situations, stating there needs to be more clarity over what to do about ghost kitchens that do not have a physical location and only handle deliveries. Amazon also falls through the cracks, as it has no physical presence in many states.
"The question is, what happens if you're a brand that is predominantly restaurant-sourced, and now the customer's ordering off the app, and it's unclear to the customer whether the order is coming from a ghost kitchen or from a nearby restaurant? How does case law evolve to adapt to that?" Joblove said.