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Yates v. Auto City 76

United States District Court, Northern District of California

November 3, 2014

CRAIG YATES, Plaintiff,
v.
AUTO CITY 76, et al., Defendants

As Amended November 5, 2014.

For Craig Yates, Plaintiff: Thomas E. Frankovich, LEAD ATTORNEY, Thomas E. Frankovich, APLC, San Rafael, CA.

For Auto City 76, R.A.T. Oil Inc, a California corporation, Canadian American Oil Company, a California corporation, Defendants: Thomas Issa Saberi, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of William H. Paynter, So. San Francisco, CA; James M. Dombroski, Attorney at Law, Petaluma, CA.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Docket No. 86)

EDWARD M. CHEN, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Craig Yates has filed suit against Defendants Auto City 76; R.A.T. Oil, Inc.; and Canadian American Oil Co., asserting claims for disability discrimination. More specifically, Mr. Yates claims that Defendants discriminated against persons with disabilities by failing to remove several architectural barriers to access at Auto City 76, a combined gas station, car wash, and minimart. Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment that Mr. Yates failed to reasonably mitigate his damages where he returned to Auto City 76 on more than 16 occasions between February 2010 and present. Docket No. 86.

Having considered the parties' briefs and accompanying submissions, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendants' motion.[1]

I. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Mr. Yates is a disabled individual who requires the use of a wheelchair to travel about in public. See FAC. ¶ 5 (Docket No. 66).[2] Between February 2010 and the present, Mr. Yates visited Auto City 76 on at least 22 occasions for the purposes of fueling his vehicle and obtaining a car wash. See FAC ¶ 2; Yates Depo. at 145:24-147:25 (Docket No. 88). Mr. Yates testified that he patronized Auto City 76 because the " fuel price was excellent, " the car wash was " good, " and the fuel price was further discounted when he purchased both fuel and a car wash together during the same transaction. Yates Depo. at 144:1-4, 146:17-21, 147:22-25. Auto City 76 is located at 505 South Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, California. FAC ¶ 4. Mr. Yates lives in San Rafael, California. See FAC Exs. A & B; Yates Depo. at 147:19-25.

Mr. Yates claims that on at least 17 of his visits to Auto City 76, he encountered various architectural barriers that prevented him from using the public accommodation.[3] Those barriers included poor or improper signage, lack of a disabled van accessible parking stall, lack of a policy or procedure to assist the disabled in pumping fuel, inaccessible or otherwise inadequate restrooms, and a service counter that was too high for Mr. Yates to easily pay for his fuel or car wash. See, e.g., FAC ¶ ¶ 16-17, 19, 22-24.

Mr. Yates filed suit against Defendants on September 1, 2010. Docket No. 1. Mr. Yates' complaint alleged violations of: (1) the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); [4] (2) the California Disabled Persons Act; [5] (3) the Unruh Civil Rights Act; [6] and (4) California Health and Safety Code § 19955, et seq. Id. On September 25, 2013, Mr. Yates filed a Motion for Leave to File A First Amended Complaint. Docket No. 59. Mr. Yates' amended complaint pleaded the same four causes of action as in his original complaint, but added allegations about visits to Auto City 76 that occurred after the filing of his original complaint, and also added allegations about additional access barriers that he allegedly encountered on those later visits. Id. This Court granted Mr. Yates' motion on November 7, 2013. Docket No. 65. Mr. Yates' amended (and operative) complaint was filed on November 12, 2013. Docket No. 66.

On November 18, 2013, the parties alerted the Court that they had settled all of Mr. Yates' claims for equitable or injunctive relief raised in the First Amended Complaint, Docket. No. 67, and the Court agreed to enter the parties' joint stipulation dismissing those claims with prejudice. Docket No. 71. Consequently, only Mr. Yates' claims for statutory damages under California law remain at issue in this litigation.[7] See Antoninetti v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., 643 F.3d 1165, 1174 (9th Cir. 2010) (" Injunctive relief is the sole remedy available to private parties under the [Americans with] Disabilities Act; it does not authorize a claim for money damages.").

Defendants filed a targeted motion for partial summary judgment on September 14, 2014. Docket No. 86. Specifically, Defendants argue that Mr. Yates' recoverable damages should be limited as a matter of law because Mr. Yates failed to reasonably mitigate his losses where he repeatedly continued to patronize Auto City 76 in spite of his knowledge of numerous barriers to access at that location. Id.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard


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