Domino's vs. Robles Accessibility Lawsuit Proceeds
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made a ruling on January 15, 2019, on the Domino's vs. Robles accessibility lawsuit. The ruling was from the fifth federal appeal court around website accessibility. The plaintiffs, along with their lawyers, won out in the ruling. The court overturned the dismissal of the website accessibility lawsuit in question. The overturning was on the grounds of due process and primary jurisdiction.
Ninth District confirmed that website accessibility or mobile application has a tie to a physical place of public accommodation. When you cannot access the site or application, you cannot gain the goods and services. In this case, that is the physical pizza franchise Domino's. It is possible that, down the line, a determination that a toll-free phone line available 24/7 may qualify as access may be made. There was no conclusion if this would be an adequate way to meet the accessibility needs of ADA Title III.
The ruling by the Ninth Circuit states that ADA does apply to the Domino’s website and mobile application. The court, thus, made it clear that ADA is going to apply to services of a place of public accommodation, instead of services in place of public accommodation.
Per the ruling, Domino’s has been on notice from the Department of Justice’s opinion from 1996 that their website and mobile app have to have effective communication and web accessibility. The original Department of Justice documents do not mention mobile applications, but it is a natural extension.
The court also came to the conclusion, in the area of primary jurisdiction and doctrine, that not making any regulations about websites and mobile applications, and applying the doctrine, would delay a resolution for too long. The court, the Ninth District came to the decision, has the competence to come to a conclusion on their own.
The Ninth District’s decision is not one that is a surprise. The rejection of due process and primary jurisdiction arguments in the past. Many courts have come to this conclusion on prior cases as well.
What the Ninth District made clear, though, is that they are not coming to an opinion about the website or mobile application of Domino's and whether it complies with the ADA. The Ninth District has told the district court to move to the discovery phase. Once that is over, it is then that they can decide on the compliance of Domino’s with the ADA effective communication and full, as well as equal enjoyment mandates.