Cardtronics, the nation's largest independent ATM deployer and owner of the Allpoint network that provides fee-free ATM access to many credit union members, faced a federal judge angered over what the judge said was Cardtronics’ failure to live up to a previous agreement which was made after litigation arose from the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In a March 21 order, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton granted three of four suggested remedies sought by the National Federation for the Blind and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who alleged contempt of court after the plaintiffs said that Houston-based Cardtronics had failed numerous times to make its many ATMs nationwide accessible to the blind.
The original lawsuit alleging violations of the ADA at the firm's ATMs was brought in 2003 and settled under an agreement in 2007. The Court put into place a remediation plan in 2010 that was meant to "set forth more tangible requirements and deadlines" than the original agreement.
Under the terms of the order, Cardtronics will now face a special master appointed by the Court to monitor its compliance; an extension of monthly reporting requirements through March 31, 2014, and payment of attorney fees and plaintiff costs.
The court left open the question of a requested fine of $50 per ATM per month for the special master to determine if the company has made a “good faith effort” to comply with the remediation plan.
The company has deployed an estimated 47,000 ATMs nationwide and the plaintiffs allege that at least 9,000 remain without access for the blind. If the court were to agree that 9,000 ATMs remain out of compliance, fines could run as high has $450,000 per month.
A apokesman for Cardtronics said the company is in compliance with the ADA on all its ATMs and that the terms of the Remediation Plan are stricter than the terms of the ADA. Under the terms of the ADA, it is only owners of ATMs which are responsible for keeping their machines in compliance whereas under the Remediation Plan Cardtronics, the spokesman maintained, is responsible for ADA compliance on ATMs which is does not own but only serves as processor.