Removing Barriers Blog

Plaintiff Amends Complaint in Favorable ADA Litigation Decision in the Fourth Circuit
Posted February 01, 2018 by CUNA Advocacy

In a decision last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Northwest Federal Credit Union prevailed in a Motion for Summary Judgment. The decision had two important rulings. One, that the plaintiff lacked standing because they could not be a member of the credit union, and the other that a website should not be considered a public accommodation. 

This is an important step forward for credit unions as litigation continues in several circuits. Notably, this decision is distinguished from several other circuits about whether a website is considered a public accommodation, so credit unions should continue to seek legal advice to determine what arguments they should make in the face of a demand letter or legal action. 

Since the Northwest Federal Credit Union case was dismissed without prejudice, the plaintiff was able to amend their original complaint, and did so on January 30. In the amended complaint, the plaintiff attempts to make additional arguments concerning standing. Specifically, they attempt to argue that they have standing because the field of membership extends to those participating in the special Olympics. 

The compliant argues, “Northwest FCU includes in its ‘partner organizations’ or ‘community partners’, the not-for-profit organization, Special Olympics Virginia. (www.nwfcu.org/community, last visited Jan. 29, 2018). Indeed, Defendant confirms that ‘If you are employed by, volunteer for, or you or your company is a member of one of these organizations, [including Special Olympics Virginia], you’re eligible to join Northwest Federal.’” 

However, since this court did not accept that websites were places of public accommodation, it seems the Plaintiff will still have an uphill battle. 

CUNA will continue to keep members updated about our legal advocacy efforts and cases impacting credit unions as litigation continues in several courts.