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Smith v. Patel

September 18, 2009

JOHN DOE SMITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAY PATEL, AN INDIVIDUAL DBA AMERICAS BEST VALUE INNOXNARD/PORT HUENEME, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson

Order Granting Motion to Dismiss [Motion filed on August 10, 2009]

Presently before the Court is Defendant Jay Patel's Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court grants the motion, but will provide Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint.

I. Background

Plaintiff John Doe Smith (pleading pseudonymously) is an African-American male.*fn1 (Compl. ¶ 12.) He is disabled and requires the assistance of a service animal. (Id.) The complaint states that Plaintiff "is disabled within the meaning of and definition set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 1201, et seq.," but does not explain the nature of his disability. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that on an unspecified date in December 2008, he was denied public accommodation at Defendant's hotel -- the America's Best Value Inn Oxnard/Port Hueneme -- "because he is a minority and was then accompanied by a service animal." (Id. ¶ 14.) The complaint also states that Defendant's hotel has "refused and continue[s] to refuse to make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices and procedures in order to allow persons such as Plaintiff who are of African-American descent and are disabled to enter" the establishment. (Id. ¶ 15.)

Plaintiff filed the present action seeking damages, an injunction, and declaratory relief on July 10, 2009. The complaint alleges violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000, et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and California Civil Code §§ 51, et seq., 52, et seq., and 54, et seq.

II. Discussion

A. Failure to State a Claim

Defendant contends that Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted.

In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009), the Supreme Court laid out the following methodological approach for testing the adequacy of a plaintiff's complaint:

[A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Id. at 1950. The complaint's "non-conclusory factual content, and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). "Where a complaint pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)).

After dispatching the conclusory allegations set forth in Plaintiff's complaint, the Court is left with scant factual content to assess. Plaintiff contends that Defendant's hotel denied him reasonable public accommodation, but does not elaborate on the underlying circumstances. In his Opposition, Plaintiff suggests that Defendant denied him a room, but that allegation is not stated within the complaint. Without factual content describing the circumstances of the alleged denial of public accommodation, the Court is unable to determine ...


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