Plaintiffs Law Firms: The Hill Law Firm (Michelle E. Hill, Esq.) – ADA Website Lawsuits

Sharing this split screen with me is a complaint filed in California State Court, and this complaint is from the Hill Law Firm, which I have not come across this law firm yet.

And let’s go ahead and look through the complaint, and let’s start off with one note is that the defendant is JoAnn’s Stores, and so JoAnn’s is a fabric store.

And then if you go to at least multiple hyperlinks in the complaint, the text reads, but if you click on the link, it actually goes to Advanced Auto Parts.

So that could potentially be something left over from another complaint.

So in the complaint, I’m just going to read from this paragraph, and then I’ll share some thoughts.

It says, it encountered multiple access barriers which denied plaintiff full and equal access to the facility’s goods and services offered to the public in the store and made available to the public on JoAnn’s website.

For example, when plaintiff accessed the homepage, the screen reader timed out, i.e. ceased reading homepage text out loud.

As the screen reader was silent, plaintiff could not navigate or continue to browse the website, could not locate products for purchase, and could not use the store locator feature on the website to locate a physical brick and mortar store near her.

Okay, I read almost that complete paragraph because I wanted there to be, I wanted to read it to completion because that is such a strange insertion into this complaint.

From what I’m reading, it sounds like the screen reader had a technical problem with it.

It doesn’t, I don’t, I haven’t come across a plaintiff that said their screen reader timed out, and then so the screen reader was silent, and then the plaintiff could not navigate.

Okay, but how is the website creating that problem?

So what is the accessibility issue on the website that is creating that problem?

So, but that’s not listed amongst the more specific claims of inaccessibility, but that was a very interesting selection from this complaint, and one I haven’t come across and I would need more detail, but that’s also why I read the sentences before and after is just so it, you had it, you had more context for this.

So moving down to paragraph 27 right below, it says, while attempting to navigate, plaintiff encountered the following widespread and multiple accessibility barriers for blind or visually impaired people that include but are not limited to, notice how this is common amongst plaintiff’s law firms is they, their claims, a lot of them make sure to note that their claims are not exhaustive.

So there are always more claims potentially available, and that happened with the claims include but are not limited to language.

So let’s continue on to letter A it says visual and motor links must have a unique name, discernible name or short description attached to them in the code to enable screen readers to read out loud plaintiff and other visually impaired persons do not have a contextual understanding of where the link leads and are denied full access to navigate the website.

Okay, so the first, sometimes plaintiff’s lawyers write things in an extremely roundabout and cryptic way, and this first sentence is very unclear and it doesn’t make total sense to me, but the second sentence does.

So what this is getting at is success criterion 2.4.4, which generally means that your anchor text should be descriptive so that someone knows the purpose of the link from the link created itself.

So think of, think of something like organic apples. If that was your anchor text, then you would expect the page that follows to be about organic apples, versus something like click here where it’s difficult to discern what the meaning of that is and by itself you wouldn’t know what the meaning of it is because if I tell you there’s a link that says click here, you don’t know where that’s going.

But this is 2.4.4, but given that success criterion, it does say except, there is an exception for if there is, the meaning can be discerned within the context of the link.

So if there is, let’s say the link comes at the end of a sentence and it says to find out more about organic apples, click here, that’s not optimal, but that would suffice to conform to the success criterion because the meaning would be available within the context.

But again, this is not specific to this complaint, but plaintiff’s law firms are not looking for ways that you could be conforming. More often than not, they are on the aggressive side and looking for ways that something could be an accessibility issue.

Moving on to letter B, visual issue violation. That is very strange wording. It’s a strange wording. It says backward and foreground colors lack sufficient contrast ratio, i.e. the website’s characters have a low contrast ratio.

Again, the website’s characters, that is strange wording. The plaintiff and others with visual impairments or color blindness cannot distinguish colors and are denied full access to navigate the website.

One thing about the wording here is it sounds like this complaint is being filed for multiple people and I don’t think it was a class action. So maybe if it’s a class action, but one thing is these claims are somewhat specific, but not specific to the website.

So we don’t know exactly how JoAnn’s website has this accessibility issue. It’s just this very general accessibility issue is being claimed, but we don’t know in what ways that the issue potentially exists on the website.

And then letter C says visual issue. And this time it doesn’t say visual issue violation, it just says visual issue. Form elements do not have associated labels. Labels ensure that form controls are announced properly with assistive technologies like screen readers.

Implaintiff and others with visual impairments rely on these labels to navigate forms and mouse and touchscreen users also benefit from labels because the label text makes a larger click target.

We started out, I think, with programmatic labels and programmatic labels are important. And then we got into the labels being the actual visual text.

But I don’t know how the labels would create a larger click target. So this was a more unique complaint and I think it was good to record a video on this for multiple reasons.

But this appears, I have not yet come across the Hill law firm, so I think this is one of the newer law firms and I believe the signing lawyer was Michelle Hill.

So I will add a few more notes in the description below and that’s it.