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Carroll v. New People's Bank, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Abingdon Division

April 5, 2018

KEITH CARROLL, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW PEOPLE'S BANK, INC., Defendant.

          By: James P. Jones United States District Judge

          Thomas E. Strelka and L. Leigh Strelka, Strelka Law Office, PC, Roanoke, Virginia, for Plaintiff.

          Eric Daniel Chapman and James K. Cowan, Jr., CowanPerry PC, Blacksburg, Virginia, for Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES P. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The plaintiff, who is blind, contends that he is unable to navigate the defendant bank's website because of its alleged accessibility barriers, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The defendant moves to dismiss on the ground that the plaintiff lacks standing to assert this claim. For the reasons that follow, I will grant the Motion to Dismiss.

         I.

         The Complaint alleges the following facts, which I must accept as true for purposes of deciding the Motion to Dismiss.

         The plaintiff, Keith Carroll, is a permanently blind resident of Virginia. Carroll uses a screen reader to access the internet and read website content.

         The defendant New People's Bank, Inc. (“NPB”) is a Virginia corporation with its principal place of business in Honaker, Virginia. NPB owns and operates other banking locations in this judicial district. The banking locations constitute places of public accommodation. NPB utilizes the website www.newpeoplesbank .com to provide information associated with the bank, including a locator for NPB branches and descriptions of the bank's services.

         NPB's website contains accessibility barriers, which Carroll alleges prevent him from using screen reading software to freely navigate the site. Specifically, his Complaint alleges that the website has the following barriers that prevent its full and free use by blind users:

(1) Linked image missing alternative text which presents a problem because an image without alternative text results in an empty link. . . .;
(2) Redundant Links where adjacent links go to the same URL address which results [sic] in additional navigation and repetition for keyboard and screen reader users; and (3) Empty or missing form labels which presented a problem. . . . Form labels provide visible descriptions and larger clickable targets for form controls.

Compl. ¶ 13, ECF No. 1.

         Based on these barriers, Carroll alleges that NPB violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213, by maintaining a website that is not fully accessible to visually-impaired users and failing to make reasonable modifications to correct the barriers. Specifically, Carroll alleges that NPB is a public accommodation within the definition of Title III of the ADA, and its website is “a service, ...


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