Federal Court Rules California Council of the Blind Can't Sue JetBlue

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Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 11:23 AM
click to enlarge ... unless you're blind
  • ... unless you're blind

Blind people just can't seem to get a break.

First of all, they're blind, which is never easy.

And now, thanks to a California federal court ruling, they won't be able to book a flight on JetBlue's website.

Where's the humanity.

In August 2010, the California Council of the Blind sued JetBlue, claiming the airline was violating the state's Unruh Civil Rights Act and Disabled Persons Act. Their beef was with both the company's website and airport kiosks.

The Council argued that JetBlue refuses to inject its website with screen-reading software, which converts the visual information into speech, making it accessible to the blind.

The Council also was upset that JetBlue's kiosks at airports do not provide an audible speech option.

Two months after the Council filed its lawsuit, however, JetBlue asked the court to dismiss the case.

Late last week, the airline got its wish.

In a complicated spiral of legal mumbo jumbo, the federal court ruled that federal regulations preempt the Council's state claims and therefore cannot sue the airline.

"Access to airline websites and kiosks is a narrow field," states the court ruling, "and the [Department of Transportation] has issued regulations specifically addressing this field ... Because the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims are preempted, the Court does not reach the additional issues raised by the parties, including the merits of Plaintiff's state law claims."

In other words: sorry Blind People, no JetBlue for you.

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