Settlement ranks as one of the largest resolutions of web access litigation in the U.S.
SACRAMENTO, Calif., December 1, 2023 — On behalf of Bryan Bashin—a blind camping enthusiast and leader in the blindness community—Relman Colfax PLLC and TRE Legal Practice are pleased to announce the settlement of innovative litigation aimed at ensuring the accessibility of public agency websites to visitors with disabilities. Judge Evelio Grillo of the Alameda County (CA) Superior Court gave final approval to a settlement valued at more than $2 million. In addition to securing a remediation remedy, the payment places this settlement in the ranks of the largest resolutions of web access litigation in the United States.
Mr. Bashin alleged Conduent State & Local Solutions and its subcontractor US eDirect developed a reservations website for the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) that was nearly impossible for blind campers and other people with disabilities to use, and did not conform to the accepted Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”) set by California law and the contract. While promising instant and equal access to reserve campsites, cabins and other amenities in more than 300 state park facilities, in practice blind users could not compete for those opportunities because non-disabled users navigated the website easily and booked all of the most sought-after reservations. As far as counsel is aware, this is the first time a disability rights plaintiff has used a state False Claims Act to secure the level of accessibility promised under state law.
Mr. Bashin claimed that Conduent and US eDirect knowingly developed an inaccessible website and falsely claimed payment of tens of millions of dollars over a six-year contract with DPR. He also alleged that the defendants’ actions deprived him of access to DPR services in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
After more than two years of intensive discovery and briefing, the parties reached an agreement in principle and negotiated detailed terms concerning how the website would be remediated and secured approval by California agencies and the Superior Court. The agreement provides for defendants to fund an accessibility audit by the nationally renowned firm Prime Access Consulting and requires that US eDirect remediate the website at DPR’s direction so that blind and other disabled users will have equal access to DPR parks and facilities.
“My objective to get California’s parks website fixed will be realized by this settlement,” said Mr. Bashin, “Additionally the settlement will send a very strong message to those contracting with the government that false claims of accessibility will be made at their economic peril.”
We look forward to the day when all Californians with disabilities will have the same equal chance of reserving this state’s beautiful parks through an upgraded reservation system.
About Relman Colfax PLLC
Relman Colfax is a national civil rights law firm that uses litigation to combat systemic discrimination and segregation on the basis of race, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), disability, and other protected classes. We seek remedies for individuals and organizations that have been harmed by those forces.
In furtherance of its vision of a more just, inclusive and equitable society, the firm pioneered the use of the False Claims Act to enforce civil rights guarantees in its litigation against Westchester County (NY) and has been a leader in requiring accessibility in publicly-funded programs, as in its litigation against the City of Los Angeles (CA).
About TRE Legal Practice
TRE Legal is a civil rights law firm that fights against discrimination and specializes in the rights of the blind and other disabled people to access employment, education, government programs, public accommodations, accessible technology and all other aspects of society. TRE Legal’s founding attorney, Timothy Elder, is a longstanding leader in the organized blindness movement, the National Federation of the Blind, and an avid technology enthusiast.