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Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Back issues
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ATM Company Told to ‘Beware the Ides of March’

(CN) - Four years after agreeing to make machines accessible for blind customers, the world's largest ATM operator still has not honored its promise, prompting a federal judge to issue a Shakespearean warning about a March comeuppance.

About five years ago, a lawsuit led by Massachusetts and the National Federal of the Blind alleged that Cardtronics discriminated against the visually impaired because its ATMs lacked headphone jacks and voice-guidance software.

In a June 2007 settlement agreement, Cardtronics committed to making at least 90 percent of their ATMs accessible to blind people by July 1, 2010. In 2010, the parties entered into a remediation plan setting new deadlines, but Cardtronics was still not in full compliance when these deadlines passed.

Alleging that Cardtronics failed to comply with the requirements of the remediation plan, the plaintiffs moved to hold Cardtronics in contempt.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton agreed last week that "civil contempt sanctions are warranted," but gave Cardtronics one last chance to fulfill its obligations under the remediation plan.

"Instead of admitting their non-compliance and promising better effort, defendants disingenuously claim they have complied in spite of a plethora of evidence to the contrary," Gorton wrote.

However, "in a last-ditch effort to avoid sanctions, defendants promise that all remaining issues will be resolved by March 15, 2012."

"The court holds defendants to their word and issues a Shakespearean warning: beware the Ides of March," the judge concluded.

To achieve full compliance with the plan, Cardtronics has until March 15, 2012, to "enable voice guidance, tactilely discernable controls and appropriate signage on all Cardtronic-owned ATMs, not located in 7-Eleven stores." It must also inspect all these ATMs to ensure that they work properly.

If it does not comply by this deadline, Cardtronics will be held in contempt and ordered to pay a fine of $50 per month for every nonaccessible ATM, according to the judgment.

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