New Class Action Lawsuit against AccessiBe Overlay Company Sued for Breach of Contract, Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing +++

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This article is about a lawsuit filed against a company that sells overlays. The company is called AccessiBe. An overlay is a type of software that promises to make websites accessible. The lawsuit was filed by a small business that licensed the AccessiBe overlay (also called a widget) for its website. The small business still got sued by a blind person who said the website was not accessible. The small business’ lawsuit says that AccessiBe violated the law by claiming that its product makes websites accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The next thing that will happen is that AccessiBe will respond to the lawsuit. Lainey has written and spoken about problems with overlays for several years. This article has been updated once to add the names of the lawyers handling the case. This article will be further updated with any developments in the lawsuit.

Article updated

This article has been updated since it was first published on July 10, 2024. The most recent update was added on July 11, 2024. Read the updates for this article.

the word "Lawsuit" on a desk plaque with a gavel in the background

On June 24, 2024 Tribeca Skin Care, a small skin care dermatology practice in New York City, filed a class action lawsuit against overlay company AccessiBe. Relying on AccessiBe’s promises about accessibility and ADA compliance, Tribeca purchased a 1-year subscription to AccessiBe’s “AccessWidget” at an annual subscription fee of $490 in August 2022. The subscription was renewed in August 2023.

In January 2024 Tribeca Skin Care was sued in a class action complaint alleging that its website (with the AccessiBe overlay installed) did not comply with ADA requirements.

The lawsuit that Tribeca filed against AccessiBe lists in great detail factual allegations about what the AccessiBe widget (overlay) promises vs. what it delivers. It also spells out promises AccessiBe made to Tribeca about how it would help if there was a lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that all the alleged facts add up to violations of several New York state laws. The legal violations include Breach of Contract, Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, violation of New York State General Business Law, and Breach of Implied Warranty.

The suit was filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York as a class action. This means that down the road the lawyers in this case will seek to represent: “All persons or entities who purchased a subscription to Defendant’s “accessWidget” (formerly known as “Accessibe Solution”) and/or “accessFlow” during the applicable limitations period.” The limitations period will be decided later if the case moves forward.

The next thing that will happen is for AccessiBe to file a response to the complaint.

Quotes from the Complaint against AccessiBe

The legal complaint against AccessiBe is a thing of beauty for those of us who have long sounded the alarm about the harms and shortcomings of one line of code accessibility overlays, and our opinions about the false promises surrounding them.

Here are just a few of the allegations of the complaint. AccessiBe will have a chance to rebut these (say they are not true) and argue about the legal claims down the road. [Note that the company name is spelled without a capital “B” in the complaint.]

Curious? You can read the 32 page Legal Complaint against AccessiBe here.

Plaintiff further seeks injunctive relief that would require Accessibe to discontinue its deceptive practices.Complaint against AccessiBe, paragraph 1

Accessibe’s claims about the efficacy of its products are overstated and many of its specific representations are materially misleading and false—as is its guarantee that its products will ensure that a website is ADA compliant. Accessibe’s fundamental claim is that installing its widget will, in and of itself, ensure that a website will meet WCAG recommendations and ADA compliance.

This is simply untrue.

Complaint against AccessiBe, paragraph 7

In many cases, installing Accessibe’s widget actually hinders accessibility, in that Accessibe’s widget interferes with necessary accessibility technology tools widely used by users with disabilities who require such accessibility tools to browse the Internet” (In the Complaint this sentence cites to the Overlay FactsheetComplaint against AccessiBe paragraph 7

In fact, businesses that use Accessibe’s products are more likely to be the targets of lawsuits. Use of Accessibe’s widget serves as a signal that a business has used a flawed shortcut to make its website accessible to people with disabilities—one that actually impedes visually impaired people from using the website.Complaint against AccessiBe, paragraph 8

I appreciate the careful work and extensive detail that went in to drafting this legal complaint. I will share updates as I learn of them.

Updates to this article

July 11, 2024 Update

I’m updating this article to list the lawyers who filed the case against AccessiBe described above. A big shout out to these lawyers for filing this important lawsuit with such a powerful complaint.

For inquiries about the case, please contact:

John Heenan
Heenan & Cooke

Other lawyers representing the plaintiff (the small business who is suing AccessiBe) are:

Ari Brown
Law Offices of Ari Brown

Joshua Urist
Urist Law Offices, PLLC

David Stein and David Nieporent
Stein & Nieporent LLP

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