Removing Barriers Blog

CUNA attends Fourth Circuit Arguments in ADA Case
Posted October 31, 2018 by CUNA Advocacy

The Fourth Circuit of Appeals heard arguments in a case involving Department of Labor (DOL) FCU related to a frivolous lawsuit alleging website noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  CUNA staff attended yesterday’s hearing which was held at the Lewis F. Powell Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Richmond, Virginia.

Prior to the hearing, CUNA filed an amicus brief in support of DOL FCU. A decision in this case could provide binding legal precedent in states under the Fourth Circuit’s jurisdiction.

In the June brief, CUNA highlighted the following arguments:

     -The district court correctly found that the appellant lacks standing, and had not suffered concrete and particularized harm because he does not meet the eligibility requirements to become a member of DOL FCU;

     -A website is not a place of public accommodation, and therefore the ADA does not apply; and

     -Applying Title III of the ADA to websites renders the statute impermissibly vague in the absence of any implementing regulations by the Department of Justice.

During the argument, members of the panel hearing the case expressed skepticism as to Griffin’s claim that an individual who failed to plead eligibility as a potential member of a credit union possessed legal standing to sue the credit union under the ADA.  Specifically, judges on the panel suggested that, in the absence of pleading eligibility in a credit union’s field of membership, it seemed unlikely that a plaintiff could satisfy the concrete injury and harm requirements necessary to constitutionally confer jurisdiction upon the court and legal standing to sue. In addition, at least one member of the panel expressed concern that such an expansive interpretation of the standing requirement, as proposed by Griffin, would subject credit unions to unduly burdensome litigation and would be inconsistent with the objectives of the ADA.