Gift card litigation

From Bizjournals

Gift card litigation over alleged Title III violations continue into the new year

By Matthew P. Horvitz, Counsel and Andrew J. Ferren, Director – Goulston & Storrs

It is a little-known fact that, in 1994, Blockbuster video was the first store to display pre-paid gift cards for sale. Unlike VHS rentals, the gift card industry has only grown in popularity. Gift cards from major retailers were once again at the top of many holiday wish lists. Considered a more polite version of cash, gift cards take the stress and guesswork out of gift giving. They also allow recipients to skip the dreaded “returns” line and choose the specific items, models, sizes, and colors they desire.

Recently, gift cards have found popularity with a new group: plaintiffs’ lawyers. In the fall, a small number of plaintiffs filed over 100 virtually identical class action lawsuits in New York federal courts. These lawsuits allege that retailers, restaurants, and other businesses violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York City and State Human Rights Laws by failing to provide gift cards with Braille, the tactile writing system of raised dots that can be “read” by people who are blind or have low vision.

Now, these types of claims are also beginning to be filed in California.

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