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Michigan Credit Union League

Frivolous Lawsuit Case Against Two Michigan Credit Unions Heard Before 6th Circuit

Earlier this month, two Michigan credit unions, Aeroquip Credit Union and Belle River Community Credit Union, targeted by frivolous lawsuits claiming website noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) made their case before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati.

The lawsuits allege that the defendant’s websites are not in compliance with the ADA, which was passed in 1990, decades prior to the development of the world wide web and widespread usage of the internet. While the Department of Justice (DOJ) has rulemaking authority under the ADA, to date, it has declined to exercise its authority. This has left even well-meaning credit unions trying to make good faith efforts to comply while fundamentally unsure about what efforts will bring them into legal compliance.

In February of 2018, the Michigan Credit Union League, along with the Credit Union National Association, filed amicus briefs in support of both credit unions.

CUNA, Leagues and credit unions have achieved two previous appellate-level victories in similar suits, the first in the Fourth Circuit in January and the second in the Seventh Circuit in July. These victories create binding precedent in their respective circuits.

During the proceedings, each party was given 15 minutes to present arguments and answer questions from the panel.

Defendants’ attorneys emphasized that credit unions’ field-of-membership requirements are “neutral legal barriers” to the plaintiff’s access to credit unions’ services and argued that the previous denial of the defendants’ motion to dismiss was erroneous and disregarded well-established requirements for establishing standing.

Efforts to find a solution include CUNA meetings and communications with the DOJ and CUNA/League engagement with policymakers resulting in both members of the House and Senate, as well as 19 state attorneys general, writing to the agency calling for a solution.

It could take several months for a decision in these cases. MCUL hopes clarification will come sooner, and will favor the credit unions.

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2019-08-20 00:00:00