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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

ATM Giant Sanctioned for Blind Inaccessibility

(CN) - A federal judge rebuked the world's largest ATM operator for not making its machines accessible for blind customers, five years after it promised to do so.

Cardtronics, which owns or operates approximately 47,500 ATMs nationwide, had committed in a 2007 settlement agreement to making at least 90 percent of its ATMs accessible to blind people by July 1, 2010.

Massachusetts and the National Federation of the Blind had won the settlement after claiming that the lack of headphone jacks and voice-guidance software in Cardtronics ATMs discriminated against blind people.

The 2010 deadline passed, however, and Cardtronics had still failed to meet full compliance with the settlement agreement.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton gave the ATM operator until March 2012 to make good upon its promises.

Despite the court's earlier warning to "beware the Ides of March," this date passed, too.

No Cardtronics ATMs included Braille signage; 2,100 ATMs still lacked voice-guidance systems, and the company had acquired 9,100 new ATMs that were not accessible for the blind.

Gorton ordered sanctions on Thursday.

"Perhaps taking this court's prior admonishments to heart, defendants concede that they have failed to comply with the Remediation Plan and, reflective of that failure, consent to the imposition of three of the four sanctions proposed by plaintiffs," he wrote.

Cardtronics consented to pay a fine of $50 per non-compliant ATM per month, to appoint a special master to monitor compliance, and to extend the settlement's reporting requirements through March 2014.

The ATM company asked the court not to impose monetary sanctions until a special master can make more specific findings as to what sanctions are merited.

Though Gorton not that the court "has already found that civil sanctions are warranted (per its December, 2011 order)," he granted Cardtronics "a three-month reprieve on the basis of their assurance that they would be in compliance by March 15, 2012."

"Defendants' continued failure to satisfy their obligations to plaintiffs and to this court leave it with no alternative but to impose civil sanctions," he added.

"Because the extent of defendants' violation remains to be ascertained, the court will convene a hearing before determining the amount of the monetary fine to be levied."

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