PHILADELPHIA – In an unusual dual ruling, a federal judge Friday dismissed a suit brought by a non-customer of Philadelphia FCU claiming the credit union violated the fee disclosures requirements of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act and the handicapped provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The judge ruled that Gerald Riviello, who has sued at least a dozen credit unions, banks and retailers in the last two years, failed to prove that even though the credit union posted a placard at the ATM notifying consumers about the fees it charges that the notice was inadequate for sight-impaired, legally blind consumers such as him because it was too small. Federal Judge Thomas O’Neill ruled that the disclosure notice posted by Philadelphia FCU, though less than two inches square, was sufficient to meet the provisions of the EFTA.
“Plaintiff does not contend, however, that he was unable to complete his transaction because of his alleged disability,” wrote Judge O’Neill. “In order to conduct his transaction, plaintiff must have been able to navigate the ATM's on-screen prompts, including any on-screen fee notice.”
“A plaintiff is limited to claims regarding violations relating to his particular disability,” the Judge ruled. “As such, plaintiff cannot prevail on his claim on the grounds that some blind consumers would be unable to read even the on-screen fee notice and would thus have no notice or would be prevented from using the ATM completely.”
The court, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, also dismissed Riviello’s claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act that the fee notice was not prominent enough for sight-impaired individuals to “independently engage in financial transactions on the same terms as sighted people."
The judge ruled Riviello has no standing to bring the ADA claims asking for an injunction because he lives in the Scranton suburb of Peckville, more than 50 miles away from the ATM, and is not likely to use the machine again and has never used the ATM before.
This was at least the second defeat for Riviello in a credit union suit, following April’s court-ordered dismissal of his suit against Pennsylvania State Employees CU, which proved the ATM disclosure was missing from the ATM in question because someone had torn the placard down.
Riviello has also filed ATM suits against Tobyhanna FCU, Choice One Community FCU, Penn State FCU, New York's SEFCU, North Penn Bank, First National Bank and others.