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Nicholls v. Holiday Panay Marina

May 5, 2009

DAVE NICHOLLS, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
HOLIDAY PANAY MARINA, L.P., DEFENDANT AND RESPONDENT.



APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Josh M. Fredericks, Judge. Reversed and remanded. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. SC089574).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rubin, Acting P. J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Dave Nicholls appeals from the trial court's dismissal of his complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.)*fn1 against Holiday Panay Marina, L.P. We reverse and remand.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Respondent Holiday Panay Marina, L.P. operates a boat marina in Marina Del Rey, California. The marina is private, and only the marina's tenants may use its facilities. Appellant Don Nicholls rents a slip at the marina, where he moors his boat. Because appellant is quadriplegic, he uses a wheelchair, which makes parts of the marina inaccessible to him. In May 2006, appellant sued respondent (and others who are not parties to this appeal) alleging the marina's inaccessibility violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Respondent moved for summary adjudication of appellant's ADA claims against respondent. Respondent argued the ADA did not apply to the marina because the marina was not a "place of public accommodation."*fn2 The court agreed, and entered judgment of dismissal for respondent. This appeal followed.

DISCUSSION

1. Trial Court's Ruling and Standard of Review

The ADA prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating against people with disabilities. It states: "No individual shall be discriminated against 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." (§ 12182(a).) In this case of first impression, the trial court concluded the marina and its boat slips were similar to an apartment building or condominium complex. Correctly noting that the ADA does not apply to houses, apartments, and condominiums (Birke v. Oakwood Worldwide (2009) 169 Cal.App.4th 1540, 1552-1553; Indep. Housing Services v. Fillmore Ctr. Associates (N.D.Cal. 1993) 840 F.Supp. 1328, 1344), the court concluded the ADA likewise did not apply to the marina. The court stated, "the marina is more analogous to an apartment or condominium complex, which facilities do not constitute public accommodations within the meaning of the Act." The court therefore concluded the marina's inaccessibility to appellant's wheelchair did not violate the ADA. We conclude the court erred.

This appeal involves the interpretation of statutory language applied to undisputed facts, and therefore we independently review the judgment for respondent. (California Veterinary Medical Assn. v. City of West Hollywood (2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 536, 546.) We must interpret the ADA's provisions liberally to further its purpose of allowing people with disabilities to enjoy access to the same establishments as those frequented by people who are not disabled. (Coronado v. Cobblestone Village Community Rentals, L.P. (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 831, 848;

(Jankey, at p. 1179, citing U.S. v. Lansdowne Swim Club, at pp. 796-797; Bommarito v. Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, supra, 2007 WL 925791.)

PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin (2001) 532 U.S. 661, 676-677.) A broad interpretation of the statute allows the ADA to enhance self-autonomy and human dignity in day to day living.

2. Identifying a Marina as an Included Rental Establishment Furthers the ADA's Purpose

The ADA applies to establishments that fall within any of 12 categories. One category is "sales or rental establishment[s]." (§ 12181(7)(E).)*fn3 Here, appellant leased a slip at respondent's marina, making the marina on its face a "rental establishment."

True, the ADA does not expressly identify a marina as a specific place of public accommodation. But federal regulations applying the statute note that although the 12 categories of public accommodations are exclusive, its illustrative ...


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