ATM Accessibility Class Action Lawsuits In Pennsylvania Show No Signs of Slowing Down

Pittsburgh-based law firm Carlson Lynch has now filed sixty-eight Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”) ATM class action lawsuits in Pennsylvania Federal District Courts against banks operating in Pennsylvania and surrounding states, and it does not appear that the filings are going to stop anytime soon.

Carlson Lynch filed the first such lawsuits in April 2012 in federal district court in Pittsburgh, and all of the lawsuits named the same plaintiff, Robert Jahoda, a blind individual who claims that he was denied services by certain banks as the result of ATMs that are not accessible to the visually impaired. Jahoda has now filed thirty-five lawsuits in the Western District. Similarly, Carlson Lynch has now filed nineteen ADA ATM class action lawsuits in the Eastern District since August 2012 on behalf of Daryl Garner, another blind individual. Recently, Carlson Lynch began filing ADA ATM class action lawsuits in the Middle District. The named plaintiff in those matters, Thomas Klaus, has now filed fourteen lawsuits. All of the complaints specifically quote a March 2012 Wall Street Journal article that maintains that nearly 50 percent of the more than 400,000 ATMs in the United States are inaccessible to the visually impaired, despite the fact that new standards pertaining to accessibility to ATMs for the visually impaired took effect on March 15, 2011, and all ATMs were required to be upgraded to meet these new requirements by March 15, 2012. At this point, it does not look like any bank will be spared, so it is important for banks to ensure that they are compliant.

We previously provided an update on the specific ADA ATM requirements. However, as a refresher, the more salient requirements are as follows:

Speech Output

Machines shall be speech enabled. Operating instructions and orientation, visible transaction prompts, user input verification, error messages and all displayed information for full use shall be accessible to and independently usable by individuals with vision impairments. Speech shall be delivered through a mechanism that is readily available to all users, including but not limited to, an industry standard connector or a telephone handset. Speech shall be recorded or digitized human, or synthesized. 2010 ADA – 707.5

Input Controls

At least one tactilely discernible input control shall be provided for each function. Where provided, key surfaces not on active areas of display screens shall be raised above surrounding surfaces. Where membrane keys are the only method of input, each shall be tactilely discernable from surrounding surfaces and adjacent keys. 2010 ADA – 707.6.1

Numeric Keypads

Numeric keys shall be arranged in a 12-key ascending or descending telephone keypad layout. The number five key shall be tactilely distinct from the other keys. 2010 ADA – 707.6.2

Display Screen

The display screen shall be visible from a point located 40 inches (1015 mm) above the center of the clear floor space in front of the machine. Characters displayed on the screen shall be in a sans serif font. Characters shall be 3/16 inch (4.8 mm) high minimum, based on the uppercase letter “I.” Characters shall contrast with their background with either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background. 2010 ADA – 707.7.1, 707.7.2

Braille Instructions

Braille instructions for initiating the speech mode shall be provided.