A lawsuit against $17 million Aurora Policeman Credit Union, Aurora, Ill., has been dismissed for lack of standing.

The decision by Judge Thomas M. Durkin of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois was announced late Tuesday.

The Illinois Credit Union League and the Credit Union National Association on Wednesday issued a statement noting they joined together to defend APCU by filing a joint amicus curiae brief in support of the credit union’s motion to dismiss the complaint. The two trade groups said APCU was one of many credit unions in Illinois and across the country that have received a demand letter threatening litigation or has been sued for alleged non-compliance with the ADA.

“Similar predatory lawsuits have detrimentally impacted credit unions nationwide alleging non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” they said. ICUL and CUNA added they will continue to work with Congress and the Department of Justice to prospectively address what they termed the “ambiguity” in current law regarding the applicability of the ADA to websites in hopes of preventing “further unwarranted threats” against credit unions.

CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle in the statement noted that CUs nationwide “are facing frivolous lawsuits due to uncertainty regarding how the ADA applies to websites,” but “this latest dismissal is a promising victory on the legal front.”

“As we continue our work in the courts, we also are engaged with policymakers in Congress and the Department of Justice to find a permanent solution to this exploitation of a law designed to protect disabled Americans,” added Nussle.

Credit Union National Association President and CEO Jim Nussle speaking at the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations' 2018 annual conference.
Credit Union National Association President and CEO Jim Nussle speaking at the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations' 2018 annual conference.

“We are grateful for the court’s favorable ruling in this matter,” said Tom Kane, president and CEO of the Illinois Credit Union League. “Credit unions are greatly supportive of members with disabilities, however, these nuisance lawsuits are simply a brazen attempt by an out-of-state law firm to game the legal system to make money. It is reassuring to see this scheme will not work in Illinois and ICUL and CUNA are committed to defend credit unions against unfounded accusations like the claims in this lawsuit.”

Aurora Policeman CU is privately insured by American Share Insurance.

Ongoing issue with ADA website lawsuits

As Credit Union Journal has covered extensively, website accessibility and the ADA have become an area of protracted conflict for credit unions. Both major trade groups have been busy filing amicus briefs in courts, while at the same time lobbying the federal government to close a legal loophole that has allowed a law firm to generate hundreds of demand letters.

In addition to this case, CUNA has joined with leagues to file briefs supporting credit unions in two Alabama cases, plus cases in Texas and Ohio. An earlier Texas case was dismissed shortly after CUNA and the Cornerstone League filed their joint brief.

In Washington state, BECU recently reached a settlement with the National Federation of the Blind in a matter that avoided litigation.

Just last week, the plaintiff in an ADA website lawsuit against a Houston-based credit union voluntarily dismissed the case.

In late July, a group of 19 state attorneys general sent a letter calling on the Department of Justice to help credit unions in the fight against frivolous lawsuits by providing clear guidance.

For much more of CU Journal’s coverage on this topic, click here.

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