Appeals court tosses ADA suit against Aurora Policemen Credit Union

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An appeals court has once again backed a credit union fighting claims its website violated portions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The latest legal win for the industry concerns a lawsuit against Aurora Policemen Credit Union, an $18 million-asset institution based in Aurora, Ill. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit dismissed the suit Tuesday, upholding the finding by a district court that the plaintiff “had not suffered an injury-in-fact.” With this ruling, the plaintiff has no standing to file a suit against the credit union.

In the past two years, numerous credit unions have faced allegations their websites are not accessible and do not meet the standards set out in the ADA. Credit unions and many other businesses have argued the ADA does not apply to websites. Several CUs have had suits against them dismissed after courts ruled the plaintiff was not eligible to join the credit union.

Both the Credit Union National Association and the National Association of Federally-insured Credit Unions have mounted a vigorous defense on behalf of their member credit unions. In the Aurora Policemen CU case, CUNA filed a joint amicus brief with the Illinois Credit Union League and the Wisconsin CU League.

“We are encouraged to see another appellate-level victory in CUNA-League efforts to defend credit unions from legal actions that exploit a law protecting disabled Americans,” Jim Nussle, CUNA’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

The Aurora Policemen CU case is the second win for credit unions on the appellate level. In January, a panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit determined a plaintiff who sued $90 million-asset Department of Labor Federal Credit Union in Washington, D.C., lacked standing because he was not eligible to join the CU.

CUNA and NAFCU continue to lobby Congress and the Department of Justice to address uncertainties regarding if and how the ADA applies to websites.

In January, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas dismissed a lawsuit against Smart Financial Credit Union in Houston. The court said the plaintiff did have standing as he “seemed to fall” in the $693 million-asset Smart Financial's field of membership. However, the court ruled a website is “not a physical place,” meaning the credit union would not be liable under the ADA.

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ADA Lawsuits Websites Jim Nussle CUNA NAFCU DoJ Illinois Wisconsin