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Chapman v. Pier 1 Imps. (U.S.) Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

March 5, 2015

BYRON CHAPMAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
PIER 1 IMPORTS (U.S.) INC., DBA PIER 1 IMPORTS #1132, Defendant-Appellant

Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California: November 19, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. D.C. No. 2:04-cv-01339-LKK-DAD. Lawrence K. Karlton, Senior District Judge, Presiding.


Americans with Disabilities Act

The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff in an action under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The district court held that the obstructions in shopping aisles and on a sales counter that the plaintiff encountered on numerous visits to a Pier 1 store violated his rights under the ADA, and entered a permanent injunction against Pier 1.

Affirming in part, the panel held that the obstructed aisles the plaintiff encountered were not permissible " isolated or temporary interruptions in . . . access" under the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, 28 C.F.R. § 36.211(b), because the evidence demonstrated that Pier 1 repeatedly failed to maintain accessible routes in its store.

The panel reversed, however, the district court's grant of summary judgment on the plaintiff's claim as to an accessible sales counter. The panel remanded to the district court to modify the injunction consistent with its opinion.

Minh N. Vu (argued), Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Washington, D.C.; Eden Anderson, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, San Francisco, California, for Defendant-Appellant.

Scottlyn J Hubbard IV, Law Offices of Lynn Hubbard, Chico, California, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before: Marsha S. Berzon and Johnnie B. Rawlinson, Circuit Judges, and Elaine E. Bucklo, Senior District Judge.[*] Opinion by Judge Berzon.


Page 1002

BERZON, Circuit Judge:

Byron Chapman, a wheelchair user, challenged numerous alleged barriers to access at Pier 1 Imports (U.S.) Inc.'s store in Vacaville, California (the " Store" ) in a suit first filed in 2004. Chapman claimed that the alleged barriers denied him " full and equal" access to the Store in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (" ADA" or " the Act" ). 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). Seven years later, after an appeal to this Court, the district court held that the obstructions in shopping aisles and on sales counters Chapman encountered on numerous visits to the Store violated his rights under Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12181 et seq. Having so concluded, the court granted Chapman's

Page 1003

motion for summary judgment and enjoined Pier 1 from obstructing its aisles and counters in the future.

Pier 1 appeals, arguing that the alleged obstructions are " temporary" barriers to access under the ADA's implementing regulations and so do not violate Chapman's rights under the Act. 28 C.F.R. § 36.211(b). We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

I. Background

This appeal is another chapter in this case's lengthy history. Byron Chapman is disabled by a spinal cord injury and requires the use of a motorized wheelchair when traveling in public. In July 2004, Chapman sued Pier 1 under the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12181 et seq., the Disabled Persons Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 54 et seq., and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 51 et seq.[1] Chapman's 2004 Complaint requested injunctive relief requiring the Store to remove numerous barriers. Some of those barriers Chapman had personally encountered during his visits to the Store; others he had not, but, he alleged, they might impede his access during future visits. The challenged barriers -- both those he had encountered and those he had not -- were listed in an " Accessibility Survey" attached to the Complaint.

The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Chapman's motion appended a new and separate list of unencountered barriers identified by his accessibility expert, Joe Card. See Chapman v. Pier 1 Imports (U.S.) Inc., 631 F.3d 939, 943--44 (9th Cir. 2011) (en banc). The district court granted summary judgment for Pier 1 as to many of the challenged barriers, but ruled for Chapman as to seven barriers listed in the Card Report, none of which Chapman had personally encountered at the Store. See id. at 944.

Pier 1's position on appeal was that Chapman did not have Article III standing to challenge unencountered alleged barriers. Sitting en banc, we " clarif[ied] that when an ADA plaintiff has suffered an injury-in-fact by encountering a barrier that deprives him of full and equal enjoyment of the facility due to his particular disability, he has standing to sue for injunctive relief as to that barrier and other barriers related to his disability, even if he is not deterred from returning to the public accommodation at issue." Id. at 944. But, we held, Chapman still lacked standing under this standard to litigate his ADA claim. His complaint, we explained, did not allege " which, if any, of the alleged violations deprived him of the same full and equal access that a person who is not wheelchair bound would enjoy . . . [or] identify how any of the alleged violations threatens to deprive him of full and equal access due to his disability if he were to return to the Store, or how any of them deter him from visiting the Store due to his disability." Id. at 955. We therefore vacated the grant of summary judgment and remanded to the district court.

After remand, Chapman filed a Second Amended Complaint, alleging that on numerous visits to the Store he had encountered two specific barriers violative of his rights under the ADA. First, he alleged, the Store's " customer service counter for disabled patrons" was cluttered by merchandise, a ...

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