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Case Name National Association of the Deaf v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology DR-MA-0007
Docket / Court 3:15-cv-30024 ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
Case Summary
On February 12, 2015, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), on behalf of its members (including three named in the complaint) and a proposed class filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs sued under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act ... read more >
On February 12, 2015, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), on behalf of its members (including three named in the complaint) and a proposed class filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs sued under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act against Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The plaintiffs were represented by attorneys from the Disability Law Center, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, the National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center, and private council. The plaintiffs sought a permanent injunction that would require MIT to provide accurate captioning on its online content. The plaintiffs claimed that MIT willfully violated the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing captioned video and audio content on its platforms and therefore excluding deaf and hard of hearing individuals from benefiting from said content.

The plaintiffs alleged that based on information and belief, MIT did not have administrative procedures or policies in place to ensure that its online content had accurate captioning, whether or not that content had been created or produced by MIT itself. This issue extended back to 2010, when the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education issued a joint letter to university colleges and presidents to make clear that the requirements of § 504 and ADA include technological devices when used by places of public accommodation. The following year, the Department of Education released an FAQ explaining that letter, indicating that its contents were predicated on legal precedents and that the letter would apply to all forms of emerging technology, including online content. Additionally, MIT has stated on its website how important captioning is to deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Despite all this and repeated requests from the NAD, MIT has yet to accurately caption much of its online content.

After the initial filing of the complaint on February 12, 2015, MIT filed a motion to dismiss on May 11, 2015, citing issues of jurisdiction and a failure to state a cause of action. There were a number of responses on MIT's motion, including the filing of an Amicus Brief by a representative from the U.S. Department of Justice. While not directly involved in the case, the DOJ was an interested party and appeared to agree with the plaintiffs on this issue. On September 10, 2015, there was a hearing on the motion to dismiss held before the Magistrate Judge Katherine A. Robertson. On February 9, 2016, Judge Robertson issued a report and recommended that the motion be dismissed in its entirety, for reasons identical to those in the related case the NAD filed at the same time against Harvard University. National Association of the Deaf v. Harvard University. Judge Mark Mastroianni adopted Judge Robertson’s reasoning and denied the motion to dismiss on November 4, 2016. On May 10, 2017, the parties agreed to try to settle the dispute using a private mediator. The parties met with a mediator over the course of several months, but were ultimately unable to reach an agreement, and initial pretrial deadlines were set on July 23, 2018. The case is ongoing.

Carolyn Weltman - 10/05/2015
Rachel Carpman - 11/19/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
College/University
Disability
Hearing impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Communication skills
School/University policies
TTY/Close Captioning/Videophone/etc.
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Plaintiff Description A non-profit, civil rights organization for deaf and hard of hearing people and three individuals who are limited in their ability to hear (two of whom are members of the organization).
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing DR-MA-0006 : National Association of the Deaf v. Harvard University (D. Mass.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Harvard and M.I.T. Are Sued Over Lack of Closed Captions
New York Times
Date: Feb. 12, 2015
By: Tamar Lewin
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:15-cv-30024-MGM (D. Mass.)
DR-MA-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/25/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
DR-MA-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/12/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amicus Brief [ECF# 34]
DR-MA-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/25/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Mastroianni, Mark Gerald (D. Mass.) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Charmatz, Marc P. (Maryland) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0001 | DR-MA-0007-9000
Eichner, Stanley J. (Missouri) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0001
Fox, Timothy Patrick (Colorado) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0001 | DR-MA-0007-9000
Glassman, Richard M. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0001
Griffin, Christine M. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0001
Gupta, Namita (California) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0001 | DR-MA-0007-9000
Jackson, Caroline E. (Maryland) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0001 | DR-MA-0007-9000
Lee, Bill Lann (California) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0001 | DR-MA-0007-9000
Mayerson, Arlene Brynne (California) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0001 | DR-MA-0007-9000
Morris, Sarah (Colorado) show/hide docs
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Murphy, Thomas P. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Wilensky, Julie H. (California) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0001 | DR-MA-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Braceras, Roberto M. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-9000
Grumer, Janet (California) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-9000
Hoeplinger, Stephen M. (Missouri) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-9000
Jay, William M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-9000
Johnson, Jeffrey R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-9000
Kim, Andrew (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-9000
Luz, Jennifer B. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-9000
Morrison, Christopher M. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-9000
Naeve, Robert A (California) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-9000
Other Lawyers Lanvers, Charlotte L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-MA-0007-0002 | DR-MA-0007-9000

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