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Langer v. Elsinore Pioneer Lumber Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

January 30, 2015

CHRIS LANGER, Plaintiff,
v.
ELSINORE PIONEER LUMBER COMPANY; and DOES 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST DEFENDANT ELSINORE PIONEER LUMBER COMPANY [14]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Chris Langer, is disabled. (Compl. ¶ 1.) On October 27, 2014, Langer filed suit against Defendant, Elsinore Pioneer Lumber Company ("Elsinore Pioneer"), for failing to provide and maintain handicap-accessible parking spaces at its store. (ECF No. 1.) Elsinore Pioneer failed to answer, default was entered, and Langer now moves for entry of default judgment. (ECF Nos. 12, 14.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Langer's Motion. (ECF No. 14.)

II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Langer is a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair for mobility. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Langer has a disabled person parking placard and a "specially equipped van with a ramp that deploys out of the passenger side of his van." ( Id. ) In January 2014, Langer went to Elsinore Pioneer's store, Pioneer Lumber, to purchase tools. (Id. ¶ 7.) Langer alleges there were no compliant handicap-accessible parking spaces provided. ( Id. ¶ 10.) "This inaccessible condition, " Langer alleges, "denied [him] full and equal access and caused him difficulty and frustration." ( Id. ¶ 13.)

On October 27, 2014, Langer filed a Complaint in federal court alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the California Disabled Persons Act, and negligence. ( Id. ¶¶ 18-32.) Proof of Service for Elsinore Pioneer Lumber Company was filed on December 16, 2014. (ECF No. 14.) The Court determined Langer properly served Elsinore Pioneer on December 10, 2014, requiring them to answer by December 31, 2014. (ECF No. 9.) Elsinore Pioneer failed to respond. (ECF No. 12.) Consequently, default was entered on January 6, 2015. ( Id. )

On January 13, 2015, Langer filed this Application for Default Judgment. Langer alleges that Elsinore Pioneer's failure to provide and maintain a handicap-accessible parking space violated the ADA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Accordingly, Langer seeks (1) injunctive relief under the ADA compelling Elsinore Pioneer to provide handicap-accessible parking in compliance with the ADA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, (2) damages under the Unruh Civil Rights Act for the statutory minimum of $4, 000, and (3) attorney fees and costs in the amount of $3, 735 under both the ADA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12205 and California Civil Code section 52(a). (ECF No. 14.)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b) authorizes a district court to grant default judgment after the Clerk enters default under Rule 55(a). Local Rule 55-1 requires that the movant submit a declaration establishing (1) when and against which party default was entered; (2) identification of the pleading to which default was entered; (3) whether the defaulting party is a minor, incompetent person, or active service member; and (4) that the defaulting party was properly served with notice.

A district court has discretion whether to enter default judgment. Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). Upon default, the defendant's liability generally is conclusively established, and the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint are accepted as true. Televideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917-19 (9th Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (citing Geddes v. United Fin. Grp., 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977)).

In exercising its discretion, a court must consider several factors, including (1) the possibility of prejudice to plaintiff; (2) the merits of plaintiff's substantive claim; (3) the sufficiency of the complaint; (4) the sum of money at stake; (5) the possibility of a dispute concerning material facts; (6) whether the defendant's default was due to excusable neglect; and (7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring decisions on the merits. Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986).

Upon violation of either the ADA or the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the violating party is liable for attorney fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. § 12205 or California Civil Code section 52(a). Where, on application for default judgment, a party seeks attorney fees and costs pursuant to a statute, those fees are calculated in accordance with the schedule provided by the court. L.R. 55-3. However, Local Rule 55-3 also permits the court to award attorney fees in excess of the schedule if requested by the party's attorney at the time of the entry of default judgment. Id.

IV. ...


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