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Sandi Rush v. Highgrove Restaurant

September 12, 2011

SANDI RUSH,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
HIGHGROVE RESTAURANT, INC., ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Roger T. Benitez United States District Judge

ORDER:

* GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

* GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Doc. Nos. 12, 16.]

Defendants' motion for summary judgment and Plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment are before the Court. (Doc. Nos. 12, 16.) Numerous briefs have been filed by the parties both before and after Plaintiff's request for a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f)*fn1 continuance. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part each parties' motion.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a paraplegic who is unable to walk or stand and requires the use of a wheelchair. Plaintiff alleges that she visited Denny's #7041 in Oceanside on April 13, 2010 and encountered numerous barriers preventing her from enjoying the goods and services of the restaurant. Plaintiff asserts claims for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and related state law claims.

Before discovery in the case had commenced, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that the violations alleged in Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") had either been fixed or that the violations never existed. (Doc. No. 12.) Plaintiff filed an Opposition to Defendants' motion and her own cross motion for summary judgment. (Doc. Nos. ¶¶ 15-16.) The Court then granted Plaintiff's request for a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f) continuance to allow Plaintiff to obtain necessary discovery. (Doc. Nos. 21.) The parties then filed additional oppositions and replies to the motions. (Doc. Nos. 25, 31, 32, 36, 37, 38.)

DISCUSSION

Summary judgment should be granted when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). If the moving party meets this burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue remains for trial. Id. at 256-57.

A moving party can meet its initial burden by "produc[ing] evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or defense or [by] show[ing] that the nonmoving party does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial." Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Co., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). If the moving party meets this burden of production, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to "produce enough evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 1103 (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). Evidence raises a genuine issue "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In determining whether there are genuine issues of material fact, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Margolis v. Ryan, 140 F.3d 850, 852 (9th Cir. 1998).

Defendants' motion for summary judgment is based on the correction of all actual ADA violations. Defendants argue that all ADA violations have been corrected and Plaintiff's ADA claim and the supplemental state law claims should be dismissed. Plaintiff acknowledges that most of the violations she encountered have been corrected, but disputes others and attempts to raise new violations identified by an expert, but not included in Plaintiff's FAC.

Plaintiff moves for summary judgment on her ADA claim based on the accessible parking spaces' access aisles and van-accessible signage as well as her state law claim under the Unruh Civil Rights Act for the violations encountered on April 13, 2010.

The potential mootness of Plaintiff's ADA claim implicates two issues: (1) whether Plaintiff has standing to pursue her ADA claim and (2) whether the case should be dismissed if all the ADA violations set forth in the FAC have been corrected. As discussed below, Plaintiff has standing to pursue her ADA claim and Defendants have not established that all the ADA violations set forth in the FAC have been corrected. The Court also finds that Plaintiff is entitled to summary judgment on her ADA claim with regard to the parking lot access aisles and her claim under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Additionally, neither party is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's ADA claim.

I. ADA Claim

A. Plaintiff's ...


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