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Kirola v. The City and County of San Francisco

United States District Court, N.D. California, Oakland Division

April 29, 2014

IVANA KIROLA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, et al., Defendants.

ORDER RE FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

SAUNDRA BROWN ARMSTRONG, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Ivana Kirola ("Kirola") brings the instant class action lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco ("the City"), alleging that its facilities fail to comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and parallel state non-discrimination laws.[1] On March 20, 2014, the Court ordered the parties to meet and confer and to submit a joint statement setting forth their respective proposals for the further handling of the following post-trial matters: (1) whether Kirola has standing to pursue the claims alleged; (2) whether the class certification order should be reconsidered in light of the record developed at trial and/or changes in the law; and (3) the Court's consideration of the City's program access improvements relating to public rights of way, recreational facilities, and public libraries. See Order Directing Parties to Meet and Confer and to File Joint Statement Re Further Proceedings at 2, Dkt. 659.

On April 16, 2014, the parties' filed their Joint Statement Re Further Proceedings ("Joint Statement"). Dkt. 662. The City contends that the record is sufficient for the Court to enter judgment in its favor. Id. at 2:18. Alternatively, the City proposes filing a post-trial motion that will demonstrate that case law pertaining to the ADA and class actions entitle the City to judgment in its favor and/or that class decertification is appropriate. Id. at 3:16-22. If any of Kirola's claims remain viable following the ruling on such motion, the City proposes that the Court consider additional evidence and testimony regarding whether Kirola can satisfy the requirements for injunctive relief. Id. at 3:24-4:18. Kirola disagrees that any additional motion practice or trial proceedings are necessary or appropriate. Id. at 5:21-25. The Court discusses these issues, in turn.[2]

II. DISCUSSION

A. STANDING AND CLASS CERTIFICATION

1. Contentions

On June 7, 2010, the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion for class certification, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b)(2). See Class Cert. Order, Dkt. 285. The Court certified the following class:

All persons with mobility disabilities who are allegedly being denied access under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, California Government Code Section 11135, et seq., California Civil Code § 51 et seq., and California Civil Code § 54 et seq. due to disability access barriers to the following programs, services, activities and facilities owned, operated and/or maintained by the City and County of San Francisco: parks, libraries, swimming pools, and curb ramps, sidewalks, cross-walks, and any other outdoor designated pedestrian walkways in the City and County of San Francisco.

Id. at 6:19-25. The Court appointed Kirola as the class representative. Id. at 6:26.

In its Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification, the City had argued that Kirola, as the sole proposed class representative, lacked standing to seek injunctive relief with respect to the vast majority of the ADA violations at issue. See Defs.' Opp'n to Pl's. Mot. for Class Cert. at 8:14-11:6, Dkt. 245. At the hearing on the motion, however, the City withdrew its challenge to Kirola's adequacy as a class representative "based upon its contention that she lacks standing to seek relief regarding barriers that she has not herself encountered." See Class Cert. Order at 3:18-20. As such, the Court did not consider and made "no finding as to the type or scope of relief Plaintiff might seek or obtain on behalf of the class in this case." Id. at 3:21-22. Instead, the Court ruled that "[s]uch determinations will be made following trial based upon the evidence presented and the relief requested." Id. at 3:23-24.

The City now reasserts its position that the trial record is sufficient to justify a judgment in its favor. More specifically, the City argues that Kirola has failed to show that she suffered actual injury, that she was injured by any policy or practice, that such policy or practice caused widespread harm to the class, or that she faces any real or immediate threat of substantial or irreparable injury. That aside, the City argues that, in the event the Court is not inclined to enter judgment at this juncture, the Court should permit it to file a motion for judgment, or, alternatively, to decertify the class within forty-five days. Kirola, on the other hand, claims that she has suffered and continues to suffer actual injury as a result of the City's disability access policies and practices and therefore satisfies the requirements for standing and the entry of judgment in her favor. She further contends that no additional motion practice is necessary, but that if the Court is inclined to order the City to file a motion for judgment or decertification, such motion should be filed by May 19, 2014. See Jt. Stmt. at 7.

2. Analysis

Article III standing is a threshold requirement in every civil action filed in federal court. U.S. Const., art. III, § 2, cl. 1; Elk Grove Unified Sch. Dist. v. Newdow , 524 U.S. 1, 11 (2004). The plaintiff must establish her standing to sue at each stage of the litigation by meeting the pertinent evidentiary standard.[3] Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife , 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). In addition, "a plaintiff must demonstrate standing separately for each form of relief sought. " Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs., Inc. , 528 U.S. 167, 185 (2000) (each form of relief sought). When a plaintiff seeks prospective relief, he or she must show that there is "a likelihood of future injury" to establish standing. White v. Lee , 227 F.3d 1214, 1242 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal quotations and citations omitted). To establish that an injury is likely to recur, the plaintiff must show either (1) "that the defendant had, at the time of the injury, a written policy, and that the injury stems from' that policy'" or ...


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