United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Steve Sawczyn, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
BMO Harris Bank National Association, Defendant
Stephanie K. Goldin, Carlos R. Diaz, Jamisen A. Etzel, Carlson Lynch Ltd., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Thomas J. Lyons, Lyons Law Firm, P.A., Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, for Plaintiff.
Lucia Nale, Andrew S. Rosenman, Richard E. Nowak, Mayer Brown LLP, Chicago, Illinois, John L. Krenn, Kelly W. Hoversten, Gray Plant Mooty Mooty & Bennett, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RICHARD H. KYLE, United States District Judge.
In this action, Plaintiff Steve Sawczyn alleges the automated teller machines (" ATMs" ) of Defendant BMO Harris Bank National Association (" BMO" ) were not accessible
to him as a legally blind individual, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (" ADA" ) and its implementing regulations. BMO now moves to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, asserting Sawczyn lacks standing and the action is moot. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny BMO's Motion.
The ADA protects the rights of individuals with disabilities with respect to places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, transportation, and other places or services. Specifically, Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations from discriminating against persons with disabilities and requires them to be readily accessible to and independently usable by persons with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § § 12181--89. The Department of Justice has promulgated rules implementing Title III, including the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (" 2010 Standards" ). The 2010 Standards set forth various standards for banks, as places of public accommodation under Title III, to follow in order to make ATMs accessible to persons with disabilities.
At issue here are several of the 2010 Standards specifically aimed at making ATMs accessible to and independently usable by visually impaired individuals. For example, the guidelines require ATMs to be speech enabled and to have tactilely discernible input controls, function keys with specific tactile symbols, Braille instructions for initiating speech mode, and a headphone jack to allow for privacy while using speech mode. The deadline for conforming to the 2010 Standards was March 15, 2012.
In this action, Sawczyn alleges BMO's ATMS violated these standards. He alleges he visited two of BMO's ATMs, located at 522 Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul, Minnesota, and 5050 France Avenue, Edina, Minnesota, sometime after March 15, 2012. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9.) These ATMs are located approximately eleven and three miles from his home, respectively, and are within the " geographic zone that Plaintiff typically travels as part of his regular activities." (Id. ¶ 10.) When he visited the ATMs with his bank card and headphones intending to use them, he discovered neither had a voice-guidance feature and the France Avenue ATM's function keys did not have the proper tactile symbols (both of which are required by the 2010 Standards) and he could not independently operate the ATMs as a result. (Id. ¶ ¶ 45--46, 49--50.) He alleges that, as of the date of his Amended Complaint, he remained unable use these ATMs and that further investigation on his behalf revealed more than fifteen of BMO's ATMs were noncompliant. (Id. ¶ 51.) Sawczyn alleges he will continue to attempt to use BMO's ATMs in the future to test their compliance in an effort " to identify convenient accessible ATM options" near him and " to increase ATM accessibility for the blind community, generally." (Id. ¶ 52.)
In August 2013, Sawczyn commenced the instant action (and eleven similar actions in this District against other financial institutions) seeking injunctive relief under the ADA for BMO's failure to accommodate him and other legally blind persons who have tried to use its ATMs. BMO now moves to dismiss, asserting Sawczyn lacks standing and the action is moot because its ATMs are now ...