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Carroll v. Farmers and Miners Bank

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division

April 5, 2018

KEITH CARROLL, Plaintiff,
v.
FARMERS AND MINERS BANK (“FMB”), Defendant.

          By: James P. Jones United States District Judge Thomas E. Strelka, and L. Leigh Strelka, Strelka Law Office, PC, Roanoke, Virginia, for Plaintiff.

          Joseph J. Lynett, Jackson Lewis P.C., White Plains, New York, and Lindsey A. Strachan, Jackson Lewis, P.C., Richmond, 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 Farmers and Miners Bank (“FMB”) is a Virginia corporation with its principal place of business in Pennington Gap, Virginia. FMB owns and operates other banking locations in this judicial district. The banking locations constitute places of public accommodation. FMB utilizes the website www.farmersandminersbank.com to provide information associated with the bank, including a locator for FMB branches and descriptions of the bank's services.

         FMB's website contains accessibility barriers, which Carroll alleges prevent him from using screen reading software to freely navigate the sites. 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 FMB violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213, by maintaining a website that not fully accessible to visually-impaired users and failing to make reasonable modifications to correct the barriers. Specifically, Carroll alleges that FMB is a public accommodation within the definition of Title III of the ADA, and its website is “a service, privilege, advantage, and accommodation that is heavily integrated within [FMB's] locations.” Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1.

         FMB has moved to dismiss the Complaint for lack of standing. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The motion has been fully briefed and argued, and is ripe for decision. Because I find that Carroll's allegations fail ...


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