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Antoninetti v. Chipotle Mexican Grill

March 20, 2007

MAURIZIO ANTONINETTI PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL, INC., INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Napoleon A. Jones, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER: AND DOES 1 THROUGH 10, (1) DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS CASE NO. 05CV1660-J (WMc); AND RELATED CASE (2) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO CONSOLIDATE FOR PURPOSES OF DISCOVERY ONLY.

Before the Court is Defendants Chipotle Mexican Grill's ("Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Case No. 05cv1660, or in the Alternative, to Consolidate Case No. 05cv1660 with Case No. 06cv2671. [Doc. No. 67.] The Court determined that the issues presented were appropriate for decision without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1. [Doc. No. 67.] For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. The Court GRANTS Defendants' Request for Consolidation for purposes of discovery only.

Background

On August 22, 2005, Plaintiff filed an individual lawsuit against Defendants, and Defendants answered Plaintiff's Complaint. [Case No. 05cv1660, Doc. Nos. 1, 3.] On November 17, 2005, the Court entered an Order Regulating Discovery and Other Pretrial Proceedings requiring that "[a]ny motion to join other parties to amend the pleadings, or to file additional pleadings shall be filed on or before December 12, 2005." [Case No. 05cv1660, Doc. No. 10.] The parties subsequently entered into two stipulations to extend the time in which to join parties, amend pleadings, or file additional pleadings. [Case No. 05cv1660, Doc. Nos. 11, 13.]

On December 6, 2006, Plaintiff filed a second action against Defendants, this time as a putative class action. [Case No. 06cv2671, Doc. No. 1.] Defendants answered the second-filed action. [Case No. 06cv2671, Doc. No. 3.] The second-filed action was transferred to this Court pursuant to Local Civil Rule 40.1.d. [Doc. No. 10.] Defendants subsequently filed the instant Motion requesting that the Court either "dismiss the first-filed action and allow the putative and all-encompassing class action . . . to proceed," or consolidate the two actions. (Mot. at 5.)

I. Complaint in Case No. 05cv1660

In his first-filed action, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied full and equal access to facilities owned and operated by Defendants because the facilities were inaccessible to individuals with disabilities who use wheelchairs for mobility. (Compl. ¶ 9, 05cv1660.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' food serving and viewing counters are inaccessible. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges the following causes of action against Defendants: (1) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; (2) violation of the California Civil Code; and (3) violation of California Health and Safety Code. (Id. ¶¶ 15-27.)

II. Complaint in Case No. 06cv2671

On December 6, 2006, Plaintiffs Maurizio Antoninetti, Jean Riker, James Perkins, Karen Friedman, and Michael Rifkin filed a Complaint alleging that Defendants "deny access to people in wheelchairs to the goods, services, advantages, privileges, accommodations and benefits afforded to non-disabled customers." (Compl. ¶ 13, 06cv2671.) Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that the high walls at Defendants' restaurants preclude individuals in wheelchairs from seeing the food items available for selection in the same manner as is available to nondisabled individu- Id. ¶ 28.) Plaintiffs bring the action "on their own behalf and on behalf of all persons similarly situated." (Id. ¶ 24.) The class Plaintiffs seek to represent consists of "all persons with mobility disabilities who use wheelchairs or motorized mobility aides, who have been or will be denied their rights under the ADA, and state law to access goods, services, benefits, advantages, privileges and accommodations provided by Chipotle at its approximately 83 restaurants within the state of California." (Id.) Plaintiffs allege the following causes of action against Defendants:

(1) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; (2) violation of the California Civil Code; (3) unfair business practice; (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (5) negligence per se. (Id. ¶¶ 32-66.)

Discussion

I. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First-Filed Action

Defendants argue that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's first-filed action because Plaintiff's filing of the putative class action amounts to an untimely and improper amendment to the first-filed complaint. (Mot. at 5.) Defendants also argue that Plaintiff's filing of two identical actions is impermissible judge shopping for which Plaintiff may face sanctions, including dismissal. (Id.)

District courts retain broad discretion to control their dockets, and "[i]n the exercise of that power they may impose sanctions including, where appropriate, default or dismissal." Thompson v. Hous. Auth., 782 F.2d 829, 831 (9th Cir. 1986) (citing Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 629-30 (1962)). The Supreme Court has stated that a "primary aspect" of every federal court's inherent power is "the ability to fashion an appropriate sanction for conduct which abuses the judicial process." Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 44-45 (1991). As a result, a district court has discretion to dismiss a later-filed action, to stay that action pending resolution of the previously filed action, or to consolidate both actions. See Curtis v. Citibank, , 226 F.3d 133, 138-39 (2d Cir. 2000); Walton v. Eaton Corp., 563 F.2d 66, 70 (3d Cir. 1977) ...


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