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Johnson v. Douglas

March 10, 2010

SCOTT N. JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LISA DOUGLAS, INDIVIDUALLY AND D/B/A EXECUTIVE MINI STORAGE AND AS TRUSTEE OF THE DOUGLAS FAMILY TRUST DATED AUGUST 18, 2006; MIKE DOUGLAS, INDIVIDUALLY AND D/B/A EXECUTIVE MINI STORAGE AND AS TRUSTEE OF THE DOUGLAS FAMILY TRUST DATED AUGUST 18, 2006, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Through the present action, Plaintiff Scott Johnson ("Plaintiff") alleges that Defendants Lisa Douglas and Mike Douglas, both individually and doing business as Executive Mini Storage ("Defendants"), are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., as well as California Civil Code §§ 51-52 for providing inadequate access for persons with disabilities to the premises on which Defendants' business is located.

Plaintiff seeks both injunctive and monetary relief. Now before this Court is Defendants' Motion for More Definite Statement brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e). Defendants also seek attorney's fees and costs under Rule 41(d) on grounds that a previous action filed against them by Plaintiff was dismissed in August of 2009.

BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiff has physical impairments associated with quadriplegia that cause substantial limitations and restrictions on many of his major life activities. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that when he visited Defendants' storage facility in August of 2009, he encountered architectural barriers which prevented his full access to the facility. Plaintiff's Complaint describes the architectural barriers as the lack of "the correct number and type of properly configured disabled parking space(s) including the lack of a van accessible disabled parking space, accessible route, accessible entrance, accessibility signage, [and] striping." Pl.'s Compl., ¶ 3. Plaintiff also claims that he has foregone two visits to Defendants' storage facility because of those issues.

STANDARD

A. Motion for More Definite Statement

Before interposing a responsive pleading, a defendant may move for a more definite statement "[i]f a pleading ... is so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). A Rule 12(e) motion is proper when the plaintiff's complaint is so indefinite that the defendant cannot ascertain the nature of the claim being asserted. Gay-Straight Alliance Network v. Visalia Unified Sch. Dist., 262 F. Supp. 2d 1088, 1099 (E.D. Cal. 2001).

Due to the liberal pleading standards embodied in Rule 8(e) and the availability of extensive discovery, courts should not freely grant motions for more definite statements. Famolare, Inc. v. Edison Bros. Stores, Inc., 525 F. Supp. 940, 949 (E.D. Cal. 1981). Indeed, a motion for a more definite statement should be denied unless the information sought by the moving party is not available and is not ascertainable through discovery. Id.

B. Costs of Previously Dismissed Action

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d), the Court may order a litigant who previously filed an action against the same defendant on the same grounds to pay all or part of the defendant's costs incurred in the previous action.

The Court may also stay the subsequent proceedings until after such costs have been paid. Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(d).

ANALYSIS

A. Motion for More Definite ...


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