Robles v. Domino’s Pizza LLC,
913 F.3d 898 (2019)
Keywords: ADA, Title III, auxiliary aids and services, websites, mobile applications
Guillermo Robles is a man with a vision impairment and uses a screen reader on his computer. Robles sued Domino’s Pizza, LLC (Domino’s). Robles stated that Domino’s did not follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because its website and app were not accessible to screen readers. The District Court dismissed the case because Domino’s did not have fair notice. Robles appealed. The Court of Appeals changed the lower court decision and sent the case back to district court.
Robles is a man with a vision impairment. Robles uses screen reading software to access the internet. The software reads his computer screen and speaks the information that appears on websites. Robles used this software to access Domino’s website and app. Domino’s customers use the website and app to order pizzas. Several times Robles tried to order a pizza using the website and app. Domino’s app and website did not allow for the screen reading software to operate correctly. This meant Robles could not order the pizza.
Robles sued Domino’s for violation of the ADA. Robles said that Domino’s did not make its website and app accessible for people with vision impairments. Robles wanted a permanent order for Domino’s to make its website and app accessible. Domino’s argued that the ADA did not apply to its website and app. Domino’s also argued that applying the ADA to the website and app violated their fair notice rights.
The District Court found that the ADA applied to Domino’s Pizza. The District Court also found Domino’s did not have fair notice that its website and app needed to comply with the ADA. The District Court dismissed the case. Robles appealed to the Court of Appeals.
Title III of the ADA says a public space must communicate the same information to persons with, or without, a disability equally. The ADA says places used by the public must make visual materials available to individuals with vision impairments. The DOJ includes “electronic and information technology” in the definition of materials.
The District Court and the Court of Appeals agreed that the ADA applied to Domino’s website and app. Domino’s customers use the website and app to order pizzas. The website and app connect customers to the physical restaurants who make the pizzas. The app and website are two of the most used ways to order take-out and delivery. Therefore, the ADA applies to Domino’s website and app.
The Court of Appeals stated that Domino’s did have fair notice that its website and app had to comply with the ADA. The court said the ADA clearly requires “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations” to people with disabilities. The DOJ showed that Title III of the ADA applied to websites of public accommodations. There are no rules in the ADA to spell out how Domino’s should make its website and app accessible. The ADA and its regulations allow public spaces to determine how to meet the accessibility requirements.
The DOJ is the agency that regulates ADA Title III. Therefore, Domino’s argued that the DOJ should decide if their website and app complied with the ADA. The Appellate Court disagreed because the DOJ has not offered guidance on this issue. In order to do so, the DOJ, would have to go through a lengthy process to uphold Robles’ legal rights. This would cause a useless delay when the court can apply the ADA to the facts of this case.
In addition, the court should rule if not ruling would significantly delay a decision.
The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s decision. The Court sent the case back to District Court. The Court did not express an opinion about whether Domino’s website or app comply with the ADA. It is up to the District Court to decide if Domino’s website and app is accessible to people with vision impairments.
The Court of Appeals found that the ADA applies to Domino’s website and app. The Court found that Domino’s received fair notice that its website and app must comply with the ADA. The website must provide people with vision impairmentsfull and equal enjoyment of its goods and services. Lastly, for efficiency, the court should apply the ADA to the facts of this case.