Local wineries and bed and breakfasts are being sued by law firms that claim their websites aren’t accessible to the visually impaired. The owners of the businesses being sued say instead of just asking for the problems to be fixed, the New York City law firms and their clients, want payouts.
Scott Osborn owns Fox Run Vineyards in Penn Yan.
On its website, you’ll see all that the winery has to offer, but a legally blind person in New York City says he can’t access the same information, so he is suing.
“If I’d have been given a letter, a notification, saying ‘hey Scott you know your website is hard for my client who can’t see to access and these are the ways you can go about fixing the problem’, I would have done it immediately,” Osborn says.
Instead, the firm is demanding a settlement, and if they don’t get it, the lawsuit will move forward in federal court.
The same threat is being made to more than a dozen other wineries in New York State by the same handful of law firms.
“The cost (of fighting a federal case) is so far out of the range for a small business that it’s settle, okay how much do you want…I definitely feel like I’m being extorted,” Osborn says.
The lawsuits allege that the winery websites are made and maintained in a way that hinders access by the visually impaired, preventing them from being able to find and buy wines or access proper directions to the wineries physical locations.