Data Breaches and ADA Compliance Fuel Rise in Class Action Lawsuits

Per a Law.com post, a new report from Lex Machina, a division of LexisNexis, reveals a notable increase in class action lawsuits, driven significantly by data breaches and, wait for it, ADA compliance issues. The inaugural Class Action Litigation Report highlights trends from 2014 to 2023, indicating a steady rise in filings with a brief dip in 2021. Class action filings rose by 4% to 9,705 in the past year alone.

Of course, we know that website accessibility cases are driving the ADA compliance side of litigation. Website owners have been continually sued over website accessibility issues for the greater part of the past decade.

The problem with ADA website compliance litigation is many defendants are unaware of the specific technical issues that are most likely to lead to a demand letter or lawsuit and how to remediate them. And various digital accessibility companies have offered a suite of tools and compliance “solutions” that sound good, but don’t result in accessibility.

This is why Kris Rivenburgh, founder of Accessible.org, created the ADA Compliance Course – to provide practical, step-by-step training that shows website owners how to steadily reduce risk of litigation while improving accessibility.

Back to the news report, the surge in lawsuits encompasses various sectors, with a 14% rise in consumer protection cases, many related to data breaches. Additionally, civil rights class actions, particularly those addressing ADA violations, have seen dramatic growth. From 2017 to 2018, ADA-related cases jumped from 655 to 2,080, continuing to rise until 2023. The Southern District of New York emerged as a key venue, with 80% of its class actions being civil rights cases, predominantly ADA lawsuits.

New York and California have long been the most active states for ADA website compliance lawsuits, but in the last few years New York has become firmly entrenched as the leader in ADA compliance litigation.

Dentons led in defending class actions from 2021 to 2023, with Stein Saks and Mizrahi Kroub topping the list of plaintiffs’ firms most active in ADA cases. The report underscores the increasing financial impact of class actions, with total settlements reaching $10.9 billion in 2023, up from $7.7 billion in 2019. Attorney fees constituted a significant portion, totaling $7.6 billion from 2021 to 2023.

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