U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton Dec. 15 ordered Cardtronics to fully comply with a November 2010 remediation plan that obliges the company to install voice technology in all Cardtronic-owned ATMs not located in 7-Eleven stores; have them inspected; and pay reasonable attorney fees and costs arising the contempt proceedings.
“In a last-ditch effort to avoid sanctions, defendants promise that all remaining issues will be resolved by March 15, 2012,” Gorton wrote. “The Court holds defendants to their word and issues a Shakespearean warning: beware the Ides of March. If defendants do not achieve full compliance with the Remediation Plan on or before that date, they will be held in contempt and ordered to pay a fine of $50 per month for every ATM not in full compliance.”
The state of Massachusetts, the National Federation of the Blind, its Massachusetts affiliate and several named plaintiffs launched the litigation in 2003 by suing E*Trade Access Inc. and E*Trade Bank, alleging that its ATMs were not accessible to blind customers. Cardtronics bought E*Trade’s ATMs in 2004.
A deal reached in 2007 gave Houston-based Cardtronics until mid-2008 to install voice guidance technology in all the ATMs it owns. The company also agreed that by mid-2010, at least 90% of all of its transactions, including those at Cardtronics-managed ATMs owned by other companies, would be voice enabled.
That deal also called for the company to donate $100,000 to Massachusetts’ Local Consumer Aid Fund, which supports consumer mediation programs, and $900,000 to cover the National Federation’s legal fees.
“It’s been a long process and it’s time for them to finally meet their obligations,” said plaintiffs’ lawyer Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum of Baltimore’s Brown, Goldstein & Levy. She represented the National Federation, its Massachusetts affiliate and several individual plaintiffs, who are blind members of the class.
“We’re pleased that the court agreed with us that Cardtronics is out of compliance and continues to be out of compliance with their mediation plan,” Krevor-Weisbaum said. “We’re hopeful that this memorandum will signal to Cardtronics that they need to be fully compliant by March 15, 2012.”
Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen of Boston and Fox & Robertson of Denver, Colo., represented the same plaintiffs.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, which represented the state in the case, did not immediately provide a response.
Defense lawyers at Bingham McCutchen referred questions to the company. Cooley of Palo Alto, Calif., also represented Cardtronics.
In a written statement, Cardtronics said it was “confident” that by the deadline “it will resolve the remaining issues that focus primarily on the audio script played during a voice-guided ATM transaction.”
Cardtronics said it also was confident that its ATMs comply with existing Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. “Concerning the enhanced ADA regulations, which are also effective March 15, 2012, Cardtronics is inspecting and making improvements as necessary to ensure that all of its ATMs are in full compliance with the new ADA requirements that take effect in 2012,” it said.
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