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CNN’s Dipsute With Deaf Viewers Unravels

(CN) - The California Supreme Court need not consider whether disabled citizens have a right to online accommodation by CNN, the 9th Circuit said.

Though the federal appeals court had certified the question to California's high court in February, it withdrew certification late Friday in a brief order.

The question had stemmed from a dispute by the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAAD) over the CNN's refusal to caption videos on its website.

GLAAD sued the Cable News Network in 2011, alleging the lack of captions online violated California's Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Disabled Persons Act.

The case went to the 9th Circuit after CNN failed to obtain dismissal under California's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, which sidelines actions that interfere with First Amendment rights.

Finding that GLAAD's lawsuit had indeed attempted to interfere with CNN's "protected right to report the news," a three-judge appellate panel vacated denial of CNN's Anti-SLAAP motion in February, and ruled that GLAAD had failed to establish intent with its Unruh Act claims.

The appellate panel could not decide, however, if the state law's mandate for equal access to "places of public accommodation" included websites, so it certified that question to the California Supreme Court, saying it could have "broad implications for disability rights."

That concern began to fade last month when GLAAD agreed to dismiss its action with prejudice in exchange for CNN's promise not to seek attorneys' fees and costs. CNN subsequently agreed to voluntarily dismiss its appeal to the 9th Circuit.

With the certified question no longer attached to an active case, the 9th Circuit on Friday withdrew its request for certification.

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