After an explosion of “website accessibility” cases in recent years where plaintiffs sue internet-based companies under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) alleging that the websites are not accessible (usually alleged by visually impaired individuals), there is a ray of sunshine for some companies. The question of whether Title III of the ADA even applies to internet-based companies (as opposed to companies with physical storefronts) has been the subject of an ongoing debate, and inconsistent rulings, in courts.
In Martinez v. Cot’n Wash, Inc., the Second Appellate District declined to extend the meaning of “a place of public accommodation” under Title III to digital-only websites. Thus, an Unruh Act claim based on a violation of Title III cannot extend to purely digital websites and does not constitute a Title III violation. Based on this, those trying to recover against a digital-only website can only establish an Unruh Act claim under the theory of a “denial of access to a business establishment based on intentional discrimination.”