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Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, Inc. v. Cable News Network, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

February 5, 2014

Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, Inc.; Daniel Jacob; Edward Kelly; Jennifer Olson, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
Cable News Network, Inc., incorrectly sued as Time Warner Inc., Defendant-Appellant.

D.C. No. 3:11-cv-03458-LB

Thomas R. Burke (argued), Rochelle L. Wilcox, Janet L. Grumer, Jeff Glasser, Davis Wright Tremaine, San Francisco, California; Ronald London, Davis Wright Tremaine, Washington, D.C., for Defendant-Appellant.

Laurence W. Paradis (argued), Mary-Lee K. Smith, and Michael Nunez, Disability Rights Advocates, Berkeley, California; Linda M. Dardarian and Jason H. Tarricone, Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian, Oakland, California; Peter Blanck, Syracuse, New York, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

Karl Olson, Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski, San Francisco, California, for Amici Curiae Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, McClatchy Newspapers, Inc., Hearst Corporation, California Newspaper Publishers Association, and California Broadcasters Association.

John F. Waldo, Portland, Oregon, for Amici Curiae Washington State Communication Access Project, Oregon Communication Access Project, Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA), Aloha State (Hawaii) Association of the Deaf, Arizona Association of the Deaf, California Association of the Deaf, Nevada Association of the Deaf, Idaho Association of the Deaf, and Oregon Association of the Deaf.

Howard A. Rosenblum and Andrew S. Phillips, National Association of the Deaf, Silver Spring, Maryland; Blake E. Reid and Angela J. Campbell, Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown Law, Washington, D.C., for Amici Curiae Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., National Association of the Deaf, and the Hearing Loss Association of America.

Before: J. Clifford Wallace, M. Margaret McKeown, and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges.

ORDER CERTIFYING QUESTION TO CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT

ORDER

We respectfully ask the California Supreme Court to answer the certified question set forth below. The answer to this question will determine the outcome of this appeal, and there is no controlling precedent in the decisions of the California Supreme Court. Although we are mindful that our certification request adds to the burgeoning caseload of the California Supreme Court, this case raises an important question of California law and has broad implications for disability rights. "Comity and federalism counsel that the California Supreme Court, rather than this court, should answer" the certified question. Munson v. Del Taco, Inc., 522 F.3d 997, 999 (9th Cir. 2008) (certifying questions to California Supreme Court).

Question Certified

Pursuant to Rule 8.548 of the California Rules of Court, we respectfully request that the Supreme Court of California answer the following question:

The California Disabled Persons Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 54 et seq. ("DPA") provides that "[i]ndividuals with disabilities shall be entitled to full and equal access, as other members of the general public, to accommodations, advantages, facilities . . . and privileges of . . . places of public accommodation . . . and other places to which the general public is invited." Id. § 54.1(a)(1). Does the DPA's reference to "places of public accommodation" include web sites, which are non-physical places?

In response to this question, the California Supreme Court shall not be bound by the manner in which the question has been phrased by this court. We agree to follow the answer provided by the California Supreme Court.

Background

Defendant Cable News Network, Inc. ("CNN") operates CNN.com, a publicly accessible web site containing online news videos. In December 2010, the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, Inc. ("GLAAD") requested that Time Warner Inc. ("Time Warner")[1] caption all of the videos on its news web sites so that hearing-impaired visitors could have full access to the online videos. In February 2011, CNN responded that it offered a number of text-based services and explained that CNN would be "ready to provide whatever web access is ...


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