Florida Keys

Blind man with cerebral palsy sues Keys resort over ADA claim

Hawks Cay
Hawks Cay

A legally blind Miami man with cerebral palsy who has filed about 70 similar lawsuits is suing Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key in federal court, claiming its website fails to allow him access.

Juan Carlos Gil wants Hawks Cay to redo its website so that screen-reader software he uses can be used to access it. Gil also seeks compensation for his time and suffering, saying he tried to plan a vacation to the Keys resort but was stymied by the website’s limitations.

“No price can be put on the plaintiff’s inability to shop for himself,” his attorney Scott Dinin of Miami wrote in the 32-page complaint against Hawks Cay.

Gil, who filed the suit at U.S. District Court in Key West on July 18, recently won a similar lawsuit against the Winn-Dixie company after a two-day trial last month. A judge found that the grocery chain’s website is an extension of its physical locations and therefore subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In that case, filed in Miami federal court in July 2016, Judge Robert Scola Jr. ordered Winn-Dixie to change its website as a remedy and limited Gil to attorney fees.

“Gil has been on 500-600 other websites that actually work with the screen reader software,” Scola wrote in his verdict June 12.

“Winn-Dixie has presented no evidence to establish that it would be unduly burdensome to make its website accessible to visually impaired individuals,” Scola wrote. “To the contrary, its corporate representative unequivocally testified that modifying the website to make it accessible to the visual impaired was feasible.”

Gil has sued scores of companies, including Burger King, Wendy’s, the chocolate-maker Godiva, Ron Jon Surf Shops and the Nespresso espresso machine maker, with several of them ending in settlements.

Hawks Cay General Manager Sheldon Suga couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. No attorney was listed for Hawks Cay on the court docket.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen