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Lee v. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 17, 2014

JOSEPH LEE, Plaintiff,
v.
DEL MAR THOROUGHBRED CLUB, a California Corporation; STATE OF CALIFORNIA, 22ND AGRICULTURAL DISTRICT; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER

WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.

The matter before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, Summary Adjudication ("Motion for Summary Judgment"), filed by Defendants Del Mar Thoroughbred Club ("DMTC") and State of California, 22nd Agricultural District ("District"). (ECF No. 76).

I. Background

On February 3, 2011, Plaintiff Joseph Lee filed a Complaint against DMTC in San Diego Superior Court, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq. ; the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 51, et seq. ; and the California Disabled Persons Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 54, et seq. (S.D. Cal. Case No. 11cv459-WQH-BLM, ECF No. 1). The Complaint alleged that DMTC denied Plaintiff the right to park in designated handicapped accessible parking spaces located adjacent to the Del Mar Race Track entrance. On March 4, 2011, DMTC removed the action to this Court. Id. On May 12, 2011, the parties filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss the action with prejudice, which the Court granted on May 17, 2011. Id., ECF Nos. 7, 9.

On April 4, 2012, Plaintiff initiated the above-captioned action against DMTC in this Court. (ECF No. 1).

On May 2, 2013, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint, which is the operative pleading. (ECF No. 55). In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff named the DMTC and the District as Defendants. Plaintiff alleges he suffers from "partial paralysis... and other ailments that significantly impair his ability to walk without a mobility aid." Id. ¶ 2. Plaintiff alleges that he has been attending the Del Mar Race Track on an almost daily basis for more than 20 years. Id. ¶ 9. Plaintiff alleges that he returned to the Del Mar Race Track in mid-June 2011 after Plaintiff settled his prior lawsuit with DMTC and "discovered that the handicapped spaces adjacent to the race track entrance had been modified and re-configured." Id. ¶ 11. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants "had constructed and/or installed into the plane of the handicapped parking spaces metal posts to which were attached blue handicapped parking signs. However, the posts were installed approximately 2 feet forward of the back end of each parking space, so that Plaintiff's vehicle, which is 22 feet long, ... is unable to fit within the designated space...." Id. Plaintiff alleges that the "installation of the vertical signs in this manner was and is totally arbitrary, capricious, and/or blatantly discriminatory." Id. Plaintiff alleges four causes of action against each Defendant: (1) violation of the ADA by "denying Plaintiff the use of disabled accessible parking spaces"; (2) retaliation in violation of the ADA for "modifying existing ADA-compliant parking facilities in a manner to specifically exclude Plaintiff and his vehicle from being able to park in the handicapped parking spaces"; (3) violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act by discriminating against Plaintiff "in respect to provision of handicapped parking"; and (4) violation of the Disabled Persons Act by discriminating against Plaintiff "in respect to provision of handicapped parking." Id. ¶¶ 14, 17, 22, 25. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, statutory damages, "general damages in the amount of $2 million, " and punitive damages. Id. at 14.

On January 21, 2014, Defendants filed the Motion for Summary Judgment, accompanied by a Separate Statement of Material Facts, three declarations and exhibits. (ECF No. 76). Defendants request summary judgment as to each of the causes of action in the First Amended Complaint. Defendants contend:

With respect to DMTC, DMTC does not own the property (parking lot/handicapped spaces) alleged in Plaintiff's [First Amended Complaint]. DMTC did not modify and had no control over any changes/modifications made to the property referenced in Plaintiff's [First Amended Complaint], other than requesting the parking spaces be ADA compliant. Regardless, any changes made by District are not in violation of the law as the changes comport with and are required by law. Neither DMTC nor District did anything to allegedly retaliate against Plaintiff. District was not a defendant in the prior lawsuit filed by Plaintiff. Regardless, Plaintiff has released both Defendants from liability in this litigation.

(ECF No. 76-1 at 5).

On February 12, 2014, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment, accompanied by a Separate Statement of Disputed Material Facts, and declarations. (ECF Nos. 78, 79, 80). Plaintiff requests that the Motion for Summary Judgment be denied in its entirety. Plaintiff contends that "triable issues of fact exist as to all causes of action" in the First Amended Complaint, and Defendants have "not made an adequate showing to escape trial." (ECF No. 78 at 10). Plaintiff contends that "triable issues exist as to whether or not it is feasible and/or required for Defendants to make an allowance for Plaintiff's 22-foot Supervan." Id. at 9. Plaintiff contends that the allegations of the First Amended Complaint relating to "improper signage and/or pole placement" are "entirely a different set of operative facts" than Plaintiff's prior suit against DMTC, which alleged that DMTC "improperly denied [Plaintiff] the right of access to the handicapped parking altogether." Id. at 6-7.

On February 20, 2014, Defendants filed a reply in support of the Motion for Summary Judgment, accompanied by a declaration from defense counsel and objections to Plaintiff's evidence. (ECF No. 81).

On April 2, 2014, the Court issued an Order stating that Plaintiff may file a response to the evidence and objections accompanying Defendants' reply. (ECF No. 85).

On April 9, 2014, Plaintiff filed an objection to the declaration of Defendants' expert witness. (ECF No. 86).

On April 11, 2014, the Court conducted oral argument on the Motion for Summary ...


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