suffers from a medical condition which requires that he use a motorized wheelchair. On the date in question, Plaintiff attempted to use the restrooms at the premises owned and operated by Defendant, and alleges that he was unable to do so because the restrooms were inaccessible to wheelchair users. As a result of the inaccessibility, Plaintiff alleges that he was forced to urinate in the restaurant parking lot.
Prior to trial, the parties entered into a Stipulation concerning remediation of ADA compliance issues on the premises as well as stipulations resolving the issue of attorneys fees and costs for Plaintiff's counsel, and the damage claim of Plaintiff, Bernard Snyder. The issues at trial were whether Plaintiff could access the bathroom facilities at the premises, and if not, whether Plaintiff, Ralph Boemio, suffered actual damages therefrom, and the amount of those damages.
Findings of Fact
Having heard the oral testimony produced by parties, and the argument of counsel, and after reviewing the documentary evidence, the Court now makes the following findings based on the credible evidence and the reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom. These findings are made based upon a preponderance of the credible evidence.
1. On or about April 19, 1996, Defendant, Love's Restaurant, operated the restaurant facility at 967 Camino del Rio South, San Diego, California.
2. On or about April 19, 1996, Defendant's restaurant was a public accommodation as contemplated by law and required to be accessible to physically handicapped persons.
3. On or about April 19, 1996, Plaintiff, Ralph Boemio, was lawfully on the premises of Defendant's restaurant.
4. Plaintiff, Ralph Boemio, is an otherwise qualified handicapped individual as provided in the relevant sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California Health and Safety Code, and the California Unruh Civil Rights Acts, respectively.
5. Plaintiff, Ralph Boemio, suffers from a medical condition which requires that he use a motorized wheelchair.
6. On or about April 19, 1996, while on Defendant's premises, Plaintiff, Ralph Boemio, attempted to use the restroom facilities, but was unable to do so because the restrooms were inaccessible to him.
7. The mens' restroom at the Love's Restaurant was totally inaccessible to wheelchair patrons.
8. The ladies' restroom was historically used by some disabled individuals with assistance from the restaurant staff.
9. The ladies' restroom entry door from the corridor provided a clear opening of 28 and 1/2 inches and the door from the foyer to the toilet area provided a clear opening of 28 inches
, both in violation of the ADA Accessability Guidelines and/or California Title 24, building code requirements (32 inches required).
10. The doorway size and configuration and layout of the corridor to the restroom prevented reasonable access to the restroom facilities on Defendant's premises.
11. As a result of the inaccessibility, Plaintiff Ralph Boemio, had to urinate in the parking lot.
12. Plaintiff, Ralph Boemio, suffered actual damages in the form of mental anguish and humiliation as a result of the discrimination associated with the inaccessible bathrooms on Defendant's facility.
13. Plaintiff's actions in the parking lot were unwitnessed by third parties and unaccompanied by any mishap, injury, physical harm or property damage.
14. The reasonable value of the damages suffered by Plaintiff, Ralph Boemio, as a legal cause of Defendant's liability is one thousand dollars ($ 1,000.00), the statutory minimum applicable in this case.
15. Plaintiff, Ralph Boemio, and his personal assistants contributed to Plaintiff's mental anguish and humiliation through their statements and conduct on the premises.
Conclusions of Law
A. Plaintiff Has Made His Burden of Proof With Regard To His Claim of Discriminatory Practices By a Public Accommodation
The ADA prohibits discrimination against any individual "on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation." 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). A restaurant is clearly a public accommodation under the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(B). A restaurant is also a public accommodation under California state law. Cal. Health and Safety Code § 19955 (West 1992). California law also specifically provides that sanitary facilities available to the public shall be made available for the physically handicapped. Id.
The remedies for a Title III ADA violation are set forth in section 204(a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The remedies include injunctive relief and attorney's fees. Monetary damages are not recoverable by private Plaintiffs under the ADA. Monetary damages can result by virtue of a concurrent violation of state law or other actionable tort claim.
The Unruh Civil Rights Act, codified at California Civil Code Section 51, provides, in pertinent part:
All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, or disability are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever . . . A violation of the right of any individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 . . . shall also constitute a violation of this section.
Cal. Civ. Code § 51 (West Supp. 1996).
Civil Code Section 52 provides a damage remedy for violations of Section 51:
Whoever denies, aids or incites a denial, or makes any discrimination or distinction contrary to section 51 . . . is liable for each and every offense for the actual damages, and any amount that may be determined by a jury . . . up to a maximum of three times the amount of actual damages but in no case less than one thousand dollars . . . and any attorney's fees . . . .