Is an Online Only Business Subject to the ADA?

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Loadholt v. Herbs, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59116 (SDNY 2023) is an ADA website case that sheds light on the issues of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens. In this case, the defendant, who does most of its business from a brick-and-mortar store in Colorado, argued that it had almost no contacts with New York, and therefore, lacked personal jurisdiction in the state. However, the court disagreed and held that selling items to New York-based customers through a website constitutes purposeful availment, and thus, confers personal jurisdiction.

The defendant also argued for a transfer based on forum non conveniens, but the court denied it, citing that the plaintiff's choice of forum is generally entitled to great deference when the plaintiff has sued in their home forum. Additionally, the court found that the nearly identical facts to the ADA website case Paguda v. Washington Music Sales Ctr., Inc. (2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16064 (SDNY)), where a venue transfer was denied, supported its ruling.

Overall, this case is significant for people with disabilities because it reinforces the importance of ADA compliance for businesses, even if they do not have a physical presence in the state where the lawsuit is brought.

The Loadholt v. Herbs, 2023 case highlights the importance of ADA compliance for businesses, especially in the context of websites that allow for the purchase and exchange of goods. The court's ruling on personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens reinforces the need for businesses to ensure that their websites are accessible to people with disabilities, even if they do not have a physical presence in the state where the lawsuit is brought. This case serves as a reminder that businesses must take the necessary steps to ensure that their online services are accessible to all, in order to avoid potential legal liabilities.

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