Redbox to make Kiosks accessible for blind users.

Redbox To Pay $1.2M, Alter Kiosks In Deal With Blind Users

By David McAfee
Law360, Los Angeles (June 27, 2014, 6:15 PM ET) -- Redbox Automated Retail LLC has agreed to pay $1.2 million and modify its kiosks to resolve a proposed class action brought by visually impaired customers accusing the video rental giant of excluding them from using its services, according to documents filed in California federal court on Thursday. Under the proposed deal, Redbox would equip all existing kiosks in California with a nonvisual user interface that plaintiffs can use and contribute $1.2 million into a settlement fund that will pay out valid claims submitted by members of the settlement class.

Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which brought the suit against Redbox and Save Mart Supermarkets on behalf of consumers who can’t use the rental services, said the settlement is the product of thorough, arms-length negotiations.

“The agreement results in significant injunctive relief that will provide accessibility solutions for all kiosks in California, damages to be paid to the class, and payment of attorneys’ fees and costs,” attorneys for the parties wrote in the joint motion for preliminary approval of the deal. “While defendants Redbox and Save Mart Supermarkets deny liability, Redbox has agreed to modifications that will result in the undisputed ability for legally blind persons to independently browse, select, pay for, and return movies or other media at Redbox kiosks.”

If approved, Thursday’s settlement would end the proposed class action filed in 2012 in an effort to end “systemic civil rights violations” committed by denying blind people equal access to goods and services. Under the deal, Redbox would add headphone jacks, tactile controls and text-to-speech audio output to all of Redbox kiosks in California.

The plaintiffs filed suit in January 2012 alleging Redbox kiosks use an exclusively visual touch-screen interface that is inaccessible to the blind. Many blind and otherwise visually impaired people enjoy films just as sighted people do and the lack of accessible video rental kiosks means they are excluded from the expanding self-service industry, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs, who sought injunctive and monetary relief, alleged that Redbox Kiosks, some of which appear in Save Mart stores, violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the Disabled Persons Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by being inaccessible to blind people.

Disability Rights Advocates, counsel to the plaintiffs, said it was optimistic that the court would approve the agreement.

“Disability Rights Advocates, The Law Offices of Jay Koslofsky and our clients are very pleased that we reached an agreement that will significantly improve access for blind individuals to Redbox’s self-service touchscreen video rental kiosks,” DRA attorney Michael S. Nunez told Law360 late Friday. “We applaud Redbox for demonstrating that businesses that connect with customers using modern technologies such as touchscreen kiosks and the Internet can do so while providing access to people with disabilities as well.”

Representatives for Redbox didn’t immediately return requests for comment on Friday.

The plaintiffs are represented by Laurence W. Paradis, Stuart Seaborn and Michael S. Nunez of Disability Rights Advocates and Jay Koslofsky of Law Offices of Jay Koslofsky.

Redbox and Save Mart are represented by Sue Stott and Amanda J. Beane of Perkins Coie LLP.

The case is Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired et al. v. Redbox Automated Retail LLC et al., case number 4:12-cv-00195, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

--Editing by Chris Yates.