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Bed Bath & Beyond Suit Alleges Website Violates ADA for Blind

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This lawsuit alleges that Bed Bath & Beyond violates the civil rights of blind individuals by maintaining an inaccessible website denying blind persons access to goods and services, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and New York State and City Human Rights Laws.

New Jersey based Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY), through its approximately 1,469 retail stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada (including 96 locations in New York State), sells an assortment of merchandise principally including domestics merchandise and home furnishings as well as food, giftware, health and beauty care items and infant and toddler merchandise under the names of Bed Bath & Beyond, World Market, Cost Plus World Market, Cost Plus, Christmas Tree Shops, Christmas Tree Shops, Harmon Face Values and buybuy BABY.  Bedbathandbeyond.com is a commercial website that offers products and services for online sale and home delivery that are available in Bed Bath & Beyond retail stores. The online store allows the user to browse products, product descriptions and prices; view sale items and discounts for online shopping; redeem promo codes for use on the site; purchase items for home delivery; order gift cards; find retail store locations; and perform a variety of other functions.

Queens County, New York resident Cristhian Diaz is legally blind and a member of a protected class under the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1)-(2), the regulations implementing the ADA (28 CFR) and New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws.  Diaz has no light perception and cannot use a computer without the assistance of screen reader software.  On October 2015, he attempted to make a purchase on Bedbathandbeyond.com but could not browse or choose items to be added to his cart due to the inaccessibility of the website.

On December 2, 2015, Diaz filed a class action complaint against Bed Bath & Beyond (U.S. District Court Southern District of New York), on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, alleging that the due to the company’s policy and practice of failing to remove access barriers by implementing readily available and accessible assistive computer technology, blind persons are being denied full and equal access to independently browse, select and shop on Bedbathandbeyond.com and, by extension, the goods and services offered through the website to Bed Bath & Beyond retail stores.  According to the complaint, visually impaired individuals (approximately 8.1 million people in the U.S.) must rely on sighted assistants (who may be strangers) to accessing and buy goods on the website, which includes disclosing personal information, including credit card information, to these other individuals in to complete a transaction.

Diaz seeks class certification of “all legally blind individuals in the United States who have attempted to access Bedbathandbeyond.com and as a result have been denied access to the enjoyment of goods and services offered in Bed Bath & Beyond Stores, during the relevant statutory period.”  The complaint requests an injunction requiring the company to take all steps necessary to make its website comply with ADA requirements to make it readily accessible to and usable by blind individuals, compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees, expenses, and costs as provided by state and federal law.

 

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