Robles v. Domino’s Pizza LLC,
913 F.3d 898 (2019)
+ Status/Update: 6/23/2021
Keywords: ADA, ADA Title III, auxiliary aids and services, mobile applications, technology, websites
Guillermo Robles is a man with a vision impairment and uses a screen reader on his computer. Robles sued Domino’s Pizza, LLC (Domino’s). Robles stated that Domino’s did not follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because its website and app were not accessible to screen readers. The District Court dismissed the case because Domino’s did not have fair notice. Robles appealed. The Court of Appeals changed the lower court decision and sent the case back to district court.
Facts of the Case
Robles is a man with a vision impairment. Robles uses screen reading software to access the internet. The software reads his computer screen and speaks the information that appears on websites. Robles used this software to access Domino’s website and app. Domino’s customers use the website and app to order pizzas. Several times Robles tried to order a pizza using the website and app. Domino’s app and website did not allow for the screen reading software to operate correctly. This meant Robles could not order the pizza.
Robles sued Domino’s for violation of the ADA. Robles said that Domino’s did not make its website and app accessible for people with vision impairments. Robles wanted a permanent order for Domino’s to make its website and app accessible. Domino’s argued that the ADA did not apply to its website and app. Domino’s also argued that applying the ADA to the website and app violated their fair notice rights.
The District Court found that the ADA applied to Domino’s Pizza. The District Court also found Domino’s did not have fair notice that its website and app needed to comply with the ADA. The District Court dismissed the case. Robles appealed to the Court of Appeals.
Status / Update
- June 23, 2021: Central District of California grants Plaintiff Guillermo Robles’ motion for summary judgment regarding the website, finding he could not order pizza from the website; Domino’s was found in violation of California’s Unruh Act; and Plaintiff is limited to $4,000 in Unruh Act penalties as inaccessible website constitutes a “single overarching violation.” Court ordered Domino’s to make its website accessible in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), version 2.0. Summary judgment was denied regarding the accessibility of Domino’s “app,” as issue of accessibility of application a disputed issue of fact. [R3]
- August 14, 2019: The Plaintiff Guillermo Robles filed his opposition to the petition for writ of certiorari in Domino’s request to the U.S. Supreme Court for review of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision to let Robles’s lawsuit against Domino’s proceed to discovery. The Supreme Court will decide whether to hear its first website accessibility case now that briefing on Domino’s Petition for Certiorari is complete.[R2]
- June 13, 2019: Domino’s filed its petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to review and overturn the Ninth Circuit’s decision which allowed a website accessibility lawsuit to proceed against Domino’s. Domino’s styled the question presented as “Whether Title III of the ADA requires a website or mobile phone application that offers goods or services to the public to satisfy discrete accessibility requirements with respect to individuals with disabilities.”[R1]
Issues of the Case
- Does the ADA apply to Domino’s website and app?
- Did Domino’s have fair notice that its website and app must comply with the ADA?
- Should the court or the Department of Justice (DOJ) be the decision maker of this case?
Arguments & Analysis
1. Does the ADA apply to Domino’s website and app?
Title III of the ADA says a public space must communicate the same information to persons with, or without, a disability equally. The ADA says places used by the public must make visual materials available to individuals with vision impairments. The DOJ includes “electronic and information technology” in the definition of materials.
The District Court and the Court of Appeals agreed that the ADA applied to Domino’s website and app. Domino’s customers use the website and app to order pizzas. The website and app connect customers to the physical restaurants who make the pizzas. The app and website are two of the most used ways to order take-out and delivery. Therefore, the ADA applies to Domino’s website and app.
2. Did Domino’s have fair notice that its website and app must comply with the ADA?
The Court of Appeals stated that Domino’s did have fair notice that its website and app had to comply with the ADA. The court said the ADA clearly requires “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations” to people with disabilities. The DOJ showed that Title III of the ADA applied to websites of public accommodations. There are no rules in the ADA to spell out how Domino’s should make its website and app accessible. The ADA and its regulations allow public spaces to determine how to meet the accessibility requirements.
3. Should the court or the DOJ be the decision maker of this case?
The DOJ is the agency that regulates ADA Title III. Therefore, Domino’s argued that the DOJ should decide if their website and app complied with the ADA. The Appellate Court disagreed because the DOJ has not offered guidance on this issue. In order to do so, the DOJ, would have to go through a lengthy process to uphold Robles’ legal rights. This would cause a useless delay when the court can apply the ADA to the facts of this case.
In addition, the court should rule if not ruling would significantly delay a decision.
- The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s decision. The Court sent the case back to District Court. The Court did not express an opinion about whether Domino’s website or app comply with the ADA. It is up to the District Court to decide if Domino’s website and app is accessible to people with vision impairments.
Policy & Practice
The Court of Appeals found that the ADA applies to Domino’s website and app. The Court found that Domino’s received fair notice that its website and app must comply with the ADA. The website must provide people with vision impairments full and equal enjoyment of its goods and services. Lastly, for efficiency, the court should apply the ADA to the facts of this case.
- Full Case Brief – Robles v. Domino’s Pizza LLC, 913 F.3d 898 (2019) [ PDF ]
- Petition for a Writ of Certiorari – Domino’s Pizza v. Robles (The United States Supreme Court) filed June 13, 2019 [ PDF ]
- Brief in Opposition to Petition for a Writ of Certiorari – Domino’s Pizza v. Robles (The United States Supreme Court) filed August 14, 2019 [ PDF ]
- Supreme Court SCOUTUSblog Case Page: Domino’s Pizza LLC v. Robles
- Domino’s Files Petition for US Supreme Court Review of Unfavorable Website Access Decision
Source: ADA Title III News & Insights by Seyfarth Shaw LLP (6/13/2019)
- Plaintiff Robles Files His Opposition To Domino’s Petition For Certiorari
Source: ADA Title III News & Insights by Seyfarth Shaw LLP (8/14/2019)
- Order (1) GRANTING IN PART and DENYING IN PART Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 97); (2) DENYING Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 101) and (3) VACATING the June 28, 2021 hearing (IN CHAMBERS) — [PDF file]
Source: Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner BCLP (6/23/2021)
These materials do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in any individual case. Please consult an attorney licensed in your state for legal advice and/or representation. These materials were prepared by the legal research staff of the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University in partnership with the Southeast ADA Center to highlight legal and policy developments relevant to civil rights protections and the impact of court decisions in the Southeast Region under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These materials are based on federal disability rights laws and court decisions in effect at the time of publication. Federal and state disability rights law can change at any time. In addition, state and local laws and regulations may provide different or additional protections. Materials are intended solely as informal guidance and are neither a determination of your legal rights nor responsibilities under the ADA or other federal, state, and local laws, nor binding on any agency with enforcement responsibility under the ADA. The accuracy of any information contained herein is not warranted. Any links to external websites are provided as a courtesy and are not intended to nor do they constitute an endorsement of the linked materials.