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Mahoney v. Bittrex, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 14, 2020

JOHN MAHONEY, Plaintiff,
v.
BITTREX, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          CHAD F. KENNEY J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff John Mahoney is a visually impaired and legally blind individual. He brings this action on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated for disability discrimination under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., against Defendant Bittrex, Inc. for its failure to make its website accessible to blind people. Plaintiff alleges, as a blind person, he is a member of a protected class of persons under the ADA, Defendant's website is a "public accommodation" within the definition of 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7) and, as such, it is subject to Title III of the ADA and the protections it affords disabled individuals. ECF No. 1 at 15.

         Currently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), see ECF No. 7, Plaintiffs Response, see ECF No. 12, and Defendant's Reply, see ECF No. 14.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The facts contained herein are drawn from Plaintiffs Complaint, see ECF No. 1, and the Court construes those facts in a light most favorable to Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff is a visually impaired and legally blind individual, who cannot use a computer without the assistance of screen-reading software. ECF No. 1 at 8. Defendant is a cryptocurrency exchange company that owns and operates www.bittrex.com ("Website"). Id.

         When Plaintiff attempted ("at least once in the past") to access Defendant's Website, "he [was] unable to understand" it due to Defendant's "failure to build its Website in a manner that is compatible with screen reader programs." Id. As a result, Plaintiff claims he is denied the benefit of "much of the content and services he wishes to access or use" on Defendant's Website. Id. Plaintiff describes the access barriers to Defendant's Website in detail. Id. at 8-10.

         "Due to Defendant's failure and refusal to remove access barriers to its website, Plaintiff and visually impaired persons have been and are still being denied equal access to Defendant's Website, and the numerous goods and services and benefits offered to the public through the Website." Id. at 10. According to Plaintiff, if Defendant removed the access barriers, he, along with those individuals similarly situated, "could independently research the Website's offerings, including making a purchase." Id.

         At this stage, the Defendant does not dispute that the access barriers exist. Instead, Defendant asserts that it has "no publicly-available physical presence ... [and because] Plaintiff does not (and cannot) allege otherwise" its Website is not a "public accommodation" under the ADA. ECF No. 7 at 4-5.

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on August 23, 2019 and Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff responded to the Motion, Defendant submitted its reply, and the Motion is ripe for review.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         '"The purpose of a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint,' not the merits." Walker v. Sam's Oyster House, LLC, 2018 WL 4466076, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 18, 2018) (citing Wainberg v. Dietz & Watson, Inc., 2017 WL 5885840, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 28, 2017)); see also Liou v. Le Reve Rittenhouse Spa, LLC, 2019 WL 1405846, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 28, 2019) (citing Nelson v. Temple Univ., 920 F.Supp. 633, 634 n.2 (E.D. Pa. 1996)).

         To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must allege "sufficient factual matter to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible on its face when the factual content allows the ...


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