Deadline: Hollywood Studios & Netflix Blasted For Civil Rights Violations In Song-Captioning Class Action

By: Dominic Patten

Both Captain America films, X-Men, Selma, Skyfall, House Of Cards, and The Godfather are among the movies and series accused of discriminating against the deaf and hearing impaired. They are at the center of a multi-claim and civil rights violating potential class action lawsuit filed today against Disney, Fox, Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal, Sony and Netflix over the lack of captioning or subtitling for the films and shows in their home entertainment versions – or, to be more specific, the songs performed or featured within in them.

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“While the dialogue of some movies or shows are indeed fully subtitled, the practice of not subtitling song/music lyrics is frustratingly widespread,” said the nine-plaintiff complaint filed in L.A. Superior Court. Seeking unspecified damages and injunctive relief, the complaint seeks to have certification to include all Americans “with any hearing loss and/or impairment” in the proposed class. Recent census data estimates that more 1 million people in the United States are deaf, with many more suffering various stages of hearing loss.

Citing feelings of “frustration and anger” and ranging from California to Virginia to the commonwealth of Massachusetts and Maryland, the plaintiffs allege that such actions by the studios and Netflix are a violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. “Defendants’ acts and omissions as specified herein have proximately caused Plaintiffs and class members; to suffer a loss of their civil rights — and their rights as a person with physical disabilities to receive full and equal access to the public facilities and accommodations produced and distributed by Defendants,” their attorney John A. Girardi of L.A.’s Girardi Keese says in the class action complaint (read it here). “Such movie or show products were of lesser value to Plaintiffs and class members, than to persons without hearing loss.”

None of the studios or Netflix responded to requests for comment on the matter.

Christine Anthony, Susan Boswell, Evan Brunell, Darby Leigh, Ken Levinson, Catharine McNally, Pauline Newton, Jay Wyant And Kristin Zlogar are the plaintiffs in the case