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Benjamin J. Sweet is Chair of the Firm’s Disability Rights Practice Group and the Managing Partner of its Pittsburgh office. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Sweet has been a zealous advocate on behalf of Americans living with disabilities, consumers, investors and survivors of sexual abuse. He is currently Counsel of Record in O’Connor et al. v. Diocese of Pittsburgh, et al., a groundbreaking pro bono class action suit on behalf of sexual abuse survivors against eight Roman Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania, based on a novel mandamus and public nuisance theory, seeking the release of the Church’s extensive secret files. He also represents institutional sexual abuse survivors in individual actions in federal, state and bankruptcy courts across the country.
Mr. Sweet has been a leader in the area of disability rights litigation on behalf of individual and institutional clients in suits seeking improved digital accessibility, gaining important advancements as Lead Counsel in actions such as Gniewkowski v. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc, 251 F.Supp.3d 908 (W.D. Pa. 2017) (denying defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s website accessibility claim and holding that a bank’s website is a place of public accommodation since it controlled by the bank, the first time a Third Circuit federal district court so held); Access Now, Inc. v. Sportswear, Inc., 298 F.Supp.3d 296 (D. Mass. 2018) (holding that specific personal jurisdiction existed over non-resident e-commerce retailer who generated 3.78% of revenue from sales within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts); Suchenko v. Echo USA, Inc., 2018 WL 3660117 (W.D. Pa. 2018)(denying defendant’s motion to dismiss and affirming the reasoning of Gniewkowski); Sipe v. American Casino & Entertainment Properties, LLC, 2016 WL 1580349 (W.D. Pa April 20, 2016) (denying defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ website accessibility claim and admonishing defendant’s counsel for his “bad faith” litigation tactics).
Mr. Sweet currently represents the American Council of the Blind as Lead Counsel in Vargas et al v. Quest Diagnostics Clinical Laboratories, Inc., 19-cv-08108-DMG-MRW (C.D. Cal.) a certified nationwide class action case under the Americans With Disabilities Act seeking greater access to healthcare services for blind individuals. He is also Lead Counsel in to Davis v. Lab’y Corp. of Am. Holdings, No. CV 20-0893 FMO (KSX), 2022 WL 1682416, at *1 (C.D. Cal. May 23, 2022), a certified nationwide injunctive relief and California Unruh Act damages class action suit also seeking access to healthcare services for blind individuals.
Mr. Sweet has also served as Lead Counsel in several nationwide federal mobility disability class action cases asserting violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, including Heinzl v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, Inc., Civil Action No. 14-1455, 2016 WL 2347367 (W.D. Pa. 2016) (certified class action which resulted in remediation of accessible parking facilities at more than 600 Cracker Barrel stores throughout the United States); Heinzl v. Boston Market Corp., 2014 WL 5803144 (W.D. Pa. 2014) (denying defendant’s motion to dismiss putative class action brought on behalf of class of mobility disabled plaintiffs); Mellenthin v. Casey’s General Stores, Inc., 2018 WL 999131 (C.D. Ill. 2018) (denying defendant’s motion to dismiss putative class action brought on behalf of class of mobility disabled plaintiffs); Badger v. PREIT Associates, LP, 2017 WL 663570 (W.D. Pa. 2017) (denying defendant’s motion to dismiss putative class action brought on behalf of class of mobility-disabled plaintiffs).
He has also represented classes of deaf individuals, including serving as Lead Counsel in Kane et al. v. Zoom Communications, Inc., 2:20-cv-06136 (N.D. Cal. 2021) (class action case brought by deaf Zoom customers seeking an end to Zoom’s practice of charging deaf customers to use its translation service), among others.
Prior to beginning his own practice, Mr. Sweet was a partner at Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP in Philadelphia, one of the largest and most prestigious plaintiffs’ firms in the country, where he concentrated his practice exclusively in class action litigation, with an emphasis on federal securities litigation. He helped to obtain significant recoveries on behalf of class members in several nationwide class actions, including In re Tyco, Int’l Sec. Litig., No. 02-1335-B (D.N.H.) ($3.2 billion total recovery for class members, the largest ever recovery from a single corporate defendant in a federal securities action), In re Wachovia Preferred Securities and Bond/Notes Litig., No. 09-Civ. 6351 (RJS), (S.D.N.Y.) ($627 million recovery for class members) and In re CVS, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 01-11464-JLT (D. Mass.) ($110 million recovery for class members).
Mr. Sweet began his career in 2001 at Reed Smith LLP in Pittsburgh, where he focused on antitrust, securities and employment litigation.
Mr. Sweet has been selected by his peers as a Pennsylvania SuperLawyers Rising Star or a Pennsylvania SuperLawyer every year from 2008 through 2023.
Mr. Sweet received his juris doctor, cum laude, from The Dickinson School of Law, and his BA, magna cum laude, from the Schreyer Honors College of The Pennsylvania State University. While in law school, Mr. Sweet served as Articles Editor of the Dickinson Law Review and was also awarded Best Oral Advocate and Best Team in the ATLA Mock Trial Competition.
While Chair of the Disability Rights Litigation Group at his former firm, Mr. Sweet’s team was awarded the Excellence in Legal Services Award by the Achieva Foundation in 2018, recognizing their extraordinary efforts on behalf of the disability community.
A Type I diabetic since 2000, Ben served on the Board of Directors of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He is the proud father of daughter Riley Grace, 19, son William DeRose, 16, son Samuel Lally, 1 year’s old.
Mr. Sweet is a frequent commentator on disability and sexual abuse law issues and has been frequently quoted in numerous national media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and U.S. News & World Report.