US studios hit by lawsuit filed by deaf and hearing impaired

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Plaintiffs in Los Angeles, California have filed a class action complaint against some of the biggest names in US entertainment for failing to caption or subtitle song lyrics accompanying their movies or shows

The action, brought against Buena Vista, Walt Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal Studios, Sony, Netflix and others, says the Plaintiffs have been damaged by the Defendants’ wrongful conduct ‘because they have purchased tickets, purchased products, rented products, or rented through streaming Defendants’ movies or shows that were marketed… as having captions (in the movie theater context) or subtitles (in the DVD/Blue Ray or streaming context) but inexplicably did not contain any captions or subtitling for song lyrics accompanying the movie or show.’

Among the movies cited are The Theory of Everything, Skyfall, Selma, Minions, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Godfather and Funny Girl. The nine Plaintiffs state they are bringing the action in a representative capacity and are seeking redress on behalf of all persons, with any hearing loss and/or impairment, residing in the USA who have been similarly affected within the class period of four years.

The action alleges unfair business practices, breach of implied warranties, and violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, a piece of California legislation that specifically outlaws discrimination based on a range of factors including disability.

The complaint seeks to have the Defendants’ action declared unlawful, unfair and fraudulent; for the restitution of all monies paid by purchasers and renters of movies or shows containing misleading statements regarding captioning or subtitling; and for the Defendants to be ordered to fully caption movies or shows in future or to correct the labelling on mislabelled products to make it clear what content is captioned or subtitled and what content is not.

It also asks for ‘such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.’

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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