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Rodgers v. Chevys Restaurants, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

February 24, 2015

JOHN RODGERS, Plaintiff,
v.
CHEVYS RESTAURANTS, LLC dba CHEVY'S; et al., Defendants.

ORDER: (1) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, and (2) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE SURREPLY [Re: Docket Nos. 40, 49]

HOWARD R. LLOYD, Magistrate Judge.

John Rodgers sues Chevys Restaurants, LLC dba Chevy's and A.C.D. Investments, Inc. for denial of access under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). On January 6, 2015, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 40. Plaintiff filed an opposition, Defendants filed a reply, and Plaintiff moved for leave to file a surreply. Dkt. Nos. 41, 48, 49. All parties have expressly consented to having all matters proceed before a magistrate judge. Based on the moving and responding papers, as well as the arguments presented at the hearing on February 24, 2015, the Court: (1) grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment; and (2) denies Plaintiff's administrative motion for leave to file surreply.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a paraplegic who requires the use of a wheelchair. Plaintiff asserts that he visited the Chevy's Restaurant located at 3101 Garrity Way, Richmond, California, on three occasions. Rodgers alleges that he encountered the following barriers during his visits: (1) lack of compliant path of travel that placed him in danger of cars backing out of parking spaces; (2) a narrow ramp with gaps and cracks that made it difficult for him to move forward and placed him in danger of losing his balance and injuring himself; (3) an uphill incline by the entrance that extended approximately 15 to 20 feet from the door to the curb, which placed him in danger of rolling off the curb; and (4) a heavy door, noncompliant tables, narrow aisles, a slope in front of the urinal, and a heavy restroom door.

In August 2013, Plaintiff filed suit alleging that certain architectural barriers to access exist at the Chevy's Restaurant. The first amended complaint (the operative complaint) asserts: (1) damages and injunctive relief for denial of full and equal access to public facilities in a public accommodation (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 19955; Cal. Civ. Code § 54 et seq. ); (2) violation of the Unruh Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 51, 52, and the Americans with Disabilities Act as incorporated by Cal. Civ. Code § 51(f); and (3) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.

Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 40. Plaintiff filed an opposition, Defendants filed a reply, and Plaintiff moved for leave to file a surreply. Dkt. Nos. 41, 48, 49.

LEGAL STANDARD

A motion for summary judgment should be granted if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion, and identifying portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, or affidavits which demonstrate the absence of a triable issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In order to meet its burden, "the moving party must either produce evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or defense or show 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., Ltd. v. Fritz Companies, Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000).

If the moving party meets its initial burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence supporting its claims or defenses. See Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd., 210 F.3d at 1102. The non-moving party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's evidence, but instead must produce admissible evidence that shows there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. See id. A genuine issue of fact is one that could reasonably be resolved in favor of either party. A dispute is "material" only if it could affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49.

"When the nonmoving party has the burden of proof at trial, the moving party need only point out that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.'" Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325). Once the moving party meets this burden, the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but must present evidence sufficient to demonstrate that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.

DISCUSSION

I. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A. Americans with Disabilities Act Claim

"To prevail on a discrimination claim under Title III of the ADA, a plaintiff must show that (1) she is disabled within the meaning of the ADA; (2) the defendant is a private entity that owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation; and (3) she was denied public accommodation by the defendant because of her disability." Rush v. Denco Enters., Inc., 857 F.Supp.2d 969, 973 (C.D. Cal. 2012). Where a plaintiff alleges discrimination due to an architectural barrier, a plaintiff must show that the subject property presents an ...


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