Reddit Small Business: “We Couldn’t Negotiate It Down… To Less Than $20,000” (ADA Website Lawsuit)

I’ve been looking through anecdotes regarding ADA website compliance on Reddit, and two that I found interesting in this small business thread, and I will quote them and link to them below, are settlements of $20,000 and $2,000.

So the $2,000 is extremely low, and then there’s this $20,000, and I’m going to read from 02bluesuperroo, and he said, we ended up having to settle, and don’t let people convince you it will be for a few thousand dollars. Maybe if they know your business is very small, they might settle for that amount, but we couldn’t negotiate it down even with attorneys to less than $20,000. Trust me, I was absolutely enraged that they are allowed to get away with this. The same guy sued over 300 companies, including us and the plaintiff, had never even been a customer.

And then there was a reply later in the thread that said, hey there, old post, but replying here since I can’t message you, we, I own a business that was a target of an ADA extortion for website, just settled an ADA case for $2,000. My lawyer tells me that is almost unheard of. Would you agree? We argued the poverty case.

I would agree that is an exceptionally low settlement amount, but it partially does depend on who the plaintiff’s lawyer is. Some plaintiff’s lawyers will not go below a certain floor. But the other factor in here is whether or not they think that the website owner has the ability to pay the amount. So I do think when smaller businesses show that they just, they don’t have that money, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the plaintiff’s law firm to push for more because it’s just, it’s not there.

But when the plaintiff’s law firms know that the money is there, then you’re going to have an instance where we have this first anecdote where the small business owner says that they would refuse to go less than $20,000. And that definitely is on the high side. Definitely not the cap. I’ve seen much larger settlements, but $20,000 is on the high side.

But keep in mind that these two experiences are posted for two years ago. So the landscape has changed somewhat. So the settlement amounts vary. But it is interesting and it does provide us with some good information when we know what is happening in different states with different plaintiffs law firms, but also different small businesses and learning their experiences. And it looks like this one was in New York. So New York does tend to have higher settlement amounts. And again, it really does depend on the plaintiff’s lawyer, which obviously the different plaintiffs law firms are located in different states. And then it does depend also on the size of your business and there are other factors, but those are two big ones.

But here we have this range where someone was able to settle for $2,000, which is outstanding. And then someone else was at $20,000, which is much higher than you would like to. But sometimes when you look at the cost of negotiation and the cost of going forward and the time necessary to go into this, because it goes beyond money, it ends up not being worth it.

And then what I have emphasized in another video is that the non-money settlement terms matter too. So you have to be careful what you can agree to because that can also dramatically increase the cost of the settlement. It just won’t be reflected in the numbers on the paper, but you will find out later that if you have agreed to, let’s say, biannual user testing and biannual audits, that can be quite pricey. So you have to be aware of not just the money terms, but also the practical terms of what you are agreeing to and the services that you, or the action that you are agreeing to take that can add up really quickly.