• Deaf man sues 50+ Florida cities and counties over closed captioning

    By: Jenna Bourne

    Updated:

    A deaf man has filed lawsuits against more than 50 Florida counties, cities, school boards and more, including St. Johns and Nassau Counties.

    The lawsuits say each failed to provide closed captioning for live-streamed and archived videos of meetings posted online, violating the constitutional rights of people who are deaf.

    Making those changes could cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

    Eddie Sierra filed his lawsuit against St. Johns County last week.

    “While we work to keep up with the federal laws as much as we can, on occasion, we have to go back and retrofit some services. And that’s exactly what’s happening here,” said St. Johns County spokesperson Michael Ryan.


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    Sierra filed a nearly identical lawsuit three weeks ago against Nassau County.

    His lawsuits claim he sent the counties letters months before filing suit, demanding change.

    “We were looking for closed captioning solutions way before we received a letter,” said Ryan.

    Ryan said it will cost taxpayers nearly $45,000 to begin closed captioning this year and $33,000 every year after that.

    Sierra’s Miami-based disability discrimination attorney Juan Courtney Cunningham would not agree to an interview or tell Action News Jax where in Florida his client lives.

    “This is not a new issue or technicality,” said Cunningham in an email. “Governments have had plenty of notice and time to come into compliance.” 

    Ryan said St. Johns County hopes to have closed captioning up and running by March 1, but commissioners do not know yet from where the funding will come.
     

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