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The Rise of ADA and Data Breach Class Actions

  • Class Action & Mass Tort
  • 2 Mins

Class action lawsuits have been on a record-setting upward trend in recent years and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing. According to the Duane Morris Class Action Review 2024, settlement numbers reached unprecedented levels in 2022 and 2023. There were two categories of class action filings that showed exponential growth in that time: ADA compliance and data breach. These categories may seem disparate on the surface, but there are unifying factors between the two that help explain this surge, one of which is the use of generative AI.

The upward trend of these class action filings has been documented across various reports and is expected to continue into 2024 and beyond as high-profile settlements continue to inspire further filings, and AI and other burgeoning technologies continue to complicate the business landscape and present complex new challenges.

The Growing Complexity of ADA Compliance

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26th, 1990, with the intent of preventing discrimination based on disability across several areas including public accommodations, transportation, employment, telecommunications, and more. Items like wheelchair ramps, handicap bathroom stalls, braille signs, and more all became not only more widely available in America, but a legal necessity, thanks to this piece of legislation.

In subsequent decades the growth of technology and the rise of the Internet have taken ADA compliance from the physical world into the digital one, resulting in an ever-evolving definition of the term. Today, non-compliance issues and subsequent class action suits revolve largely around virtual spaces.

Websites fall under the category of “public accommodations” in the language of the ADA, which means that they must be accessible to those with disabilities in the same way that a commercial building must. However, maintaining an ADA-compliant website or app is a more nuanced and complicated task than providing wheelchair accessibility. Site designers must continually work to provide alt text descriptions of image and videos, consider colour contrast, maintain accessible site navigation, ensure screen reader compatibility, and much more to remain compliant—and as technology continues to evolve, so do their responsibilities.

According to a recent report by UsableNet, a pioneer in the world of digital accessibility, class action filings regarding ADA compliance have nearly doubled since 2018. While the growing complexities of maintaining accessible online spaces is certainly a contributor to this rise, attempts to bypass those complexities by relying on AI has no doubt played a role, too.

A number of companies have utilised generative AI to audit the accessibility of their websites, which likely contributed to the nearly 25% increase in class action suits against those same companies that occurred between 2022 and 2023.

It may have seemingly limitless potential but relying on AI in its current form to do something as important as maintaining ADA compliance has posed significant risks to companies amid a surge in class action litigation. Just as a ChatGPT prompt can’t yet be trusted to offer airtight grammar and unimpeachable facts, generative AI designed to maintain accessibility in a website can’t yet be trusted to avoid compliance issues.

Data Breach Class Action Filings Soar

The Duane Morris Class Action Review 2024 shows that the number of data breach class action filings jumped from slightly more than 300 in 2020 and 2021 up to nearly twice as much in 2022 and then soared up to 1320 in 2023. That number will only continue to soar as data breaches show no signs of slowing, and in fact saw a 78% increase between 2022 and 2023 according to the US Identity Theft Resource Center.

Data compromises can happen in a variety of ways on both an individual and a widespread scale. As more and more personal information becomes stored across the Internet, the potential for breaches to impact large groups of people only grows. According to Statista, data compromises have nearly tripled in America between 2020 and 2023, which no doubt contributed to the more than 400% increase in data breach-related class action filings that occurred over the same period. However, there are other factors involved in this exponential growth that should be considered.

One of those factors is the global strengthening of data protection laws and regulations that has occurred in recent years. With a higher standard of protection thanks to legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the U.S., data breach victims have greater support when pursuing class action lawsuits.

With stronger data protection under the law, an increase in cybercrime sophistication, and a heightened public awareness around data privacy due to high profile data breach cases, it’s easy to see how there’s been a surge in class action litigation in recent years--but there’s more to it than that. Just like with AD -compliance filings, AI has played a significant role in this uptick that should not be ignored.

AI’s role in the exponential increase in data breach class action filings has not been related to errors that have led to litigation, but rather AI has served to simplify and improve class action litigation. AI programmes can collect evidence, predict outcomes, file and manage claims, and more, making the process of pursuing class action suits an easier and increasingly more common one.


The continued growth in ADA compliance and data breach class action lawsuits is the result of a wide variety of influences. On one hand there’s the growing complexity of maintaining accessibility in online spaces and the multifaceted difficulty of fending off increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks, and on the other hand there’s the simplification of the class action filing process thanks to the growth of AI. This trend can be expected to continue its upward trajectory for the foreseeable future as data breaches and AI continue to grow themselves, and the uptick in class action settlements inspires further litigation.

The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.

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