NATIONWIDE CLASS ACTION FILED AGAINST NETFLIX; LAWSUIT ALLEGES POPULAR MOVIE WEBSITE FAILED TO CAPTION STREAMING VIDEO LIBRARY IN VIOLATION OF STATE AND FEDERAL LAW, MISLED DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING CUSTOMERS
The prominent San Diego-based Weston Firm has filed a class action lawsuit in San Jose federal court against Los Gatos, California-based Netflix, Inc., alleging the ubiquitous provider of on-demand streaming video programming failed to adequately caption its streaming library in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and California law. The suit also alleges Netflix misled deaf and hard of hearing customers about the amount of subtitled content available and the rate at which it was adding subtitled content to its online database. The lawsuit’s lead plaintiff, Donald Cullen, is deaf, and relied on Netflix’s promises that it was working to subtitle its streaming video library.
“For too long Netflix has been promising its millions of deaf and hard of hearing members that it would caption its streaming video library, but Netflix has been dragging its feet. This lawsuit was brought to ensure that the deaf and hard of hearing have full and equal access to content most of us take for granted,” says Jack Fitzgerald, partner at the Weston Firm, which represents Mr. Cullen and the putative classes.
"This lawsuit was brought to ensure that the deaf and hard of hearing have full and equal access to ceontent most of us take for granted."
The lawsuit alleges that after almost two years of promising its deaf and hard of hearing members more subtitles, today only about six percent of Netflix’s streaming programming is captioned, and that Netflix’s captioning rate is “anemic.”
“Netflix initially released streaming to the public in 2008. However, none of the movies were captioned. So while the hearing world at large could enjoy this new feature, the deaf were left behind,” says Cullen, an activist in the deaf community.
Despite its failure to provide adequate closed captioning, Netflix announced last November a low-priced, streaming-only subscription option, while at the same time raising prices on all other DVD-by-mail plans. The suit charges that for the deaf and hard of hearing— for whom the streaming-only plan is effectively useless—this amounts to unfair “deaf tax.”
Gregory S. Weston, managing partner of the Weston Firm says, “We are asking the court to certify a nationwide class and enter an injunction to bring a stop to Netflix’s wrongful conduct. I urge any other consumer that has been victimized by these tactics to contact my office.”
"We are asking the court to certify a nationwide class and enter an injunction to bring a stop to Netflix's wrongful conduct."
The case, which is styled Cullen v. Netflix, Inc., Case No. CV 11-1199 (N.D. Cal.), was filed on March 11, 2011. A copy of the Complaint is available at http://www.westonfirm.com/Netflix-Complaint.pdf.
Attorney Gregory S. Weston can be reached at 858-488-1672, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Attorney Jack Fitzgerald can be reached at 408-459-0305, or email@example.com. More information is available at the firm’s website, www.westonfirm.com.