Cardtronics, Inc., the world's largest owner and operator of retail ATMs, has agreed to pay $1.5 million to resolve claims that it failed to comply with a previous court-approved settlement to make many of the company's machines in Massachusetts, and throughout the country, accessible to blind and visually impaired users, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
The agreement, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, was reached by the AG's Office and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and is still subject to court approval. The settlement will resolve pending civil contempt charges filed in 2011 and 2012 against Cardtronics, and requires the company to adopt industry-leading accessibility features at its approximately 95,000 ATMs nationwide.
"With this settlement, blind and visually impaired consumers finally will have equal access to Cardtronics' ATMs in Massachusetts and across the country," AG Coakley said. "Our office will be aggressive in enforcing the terms of its agreements. We are pleased to have worked with the National Federation of the Blind to achieve this important result."
According to the terms of the agreement, Cardtronics must make all of its ATMs nationwide accessible through a combination of Braille markers and advanced voice-guidance technology, or ultimately divest itself of non-compliant ATMs. The standard of accessibility required by today's agreement exceeds what is required by law or the original settlement.
Among other things, the agreement requires that voice-guidance technology guide users through each and every step of an ATM transaction. Each ATM is also required to have Braille markers instructing users as to how to initiate the voice-guidance technology and separately identifying the key locations on the machines, such as the headphone jack and cash dispenser.
In December 2007, the AG's Office and the NFB reached a settlement with Cardronics that required many of the ATMs that it owns and services to be accessible to blind and visually impaired users. In November 2010, following Cardtronics' alleged noncompliance with its obligations under the settlement, the court approved a joint remediation plan that imposed additional obligations on Cardtronics.
In 2011, following a motion by the AG's Office and the NFB, the court found that Cardtronics was not in compliance with the original settlement and remediation plan, and gave it until March 15, 2012 to achieve full compliance. After Cardtronics failed to comply, the court granted a second motion for contempt in March 2013. The court found sanctions against the company warranted and appointed a special master to recommend a compliance plan. Following proceedings before the special master, the parties entered into the agreement filed today.
Under the terms of today's settlement, Cardtronics has agreed to pay a total of $1.5 million, including $250,000 to the Commonwealth to be used by the AG's Office to fund programs that promote accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
Cardtronics will also establish an Accessibility Center of Excellence that will deliver industry-leading voice guidance technology to consumers by working with ATM manufacturers and other industry partners to promote industry-wide best practices.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau and Paralegal Bethany Brown of AG Coakley's Civil Rights Division.