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Schutza v. Carmax Auto Superstores California, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 13, 2015

CARMAX AUTO SUPERSTORES CALIFORNIA, LLC, a Virginia Limited Liability Company; and Does 1-10, Defendants.


M. JAMES LORENZ, District Judge.

This Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") action arises from Plaintiff Scott Schutza's ("Mr. Shutza") allegation that Defendant CarMax Auto Superstores ("CarMax") violated the ADA by not installing and providing hand controls for Mr. Schutza to test drive a vehicle. CarMax now moves to dismiss all claims in the First Amended Complaint ("FAC") under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Mr. Shutza opposes.

The Court finds this motion suitable for determination on the papers submitted and without oral argument under Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Defendant's motion is DENIED.


According to the FAC, Mr. Schutza is a paraplegic who cannot walk and who uses a wheelchair for mobility. (FAC ¶ 1, ECF No. 9.) He contends that when he went to test drive a vehicle at CarMax in June 2014, he was denied the test drive because CarMax does "not and will not install vehicle hand controls on vehicles for persons with disabilities." (Id. ¶¶ 7, 9.)

Mr. Schutza alleges three causes of action: (1) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"); (2) violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Cal. Civ. Code §§ 51-53); and (3) violation of California's Disabled Persons Act (Cal. Civ. Code §§ 54-54.8). The latter two claims are based on a violation of the ADA.

CarMax now moves to dismiss Mr. Shutza's claims for failure to state a claim. (Def's Mot. 1, ECF No. 11-1.) CarMax asserts (1) that Mr. Shutza failed to properly plead that installation of hand controls is "readily achievable, " (2) that because hand controls "alter the nature of the goods, " CarMax is under no obligation to modify vehicles to accommodate a disabled citizen, and (3) that installing numerous types of hand controls may expose CarMax to liability. (Id. 5, 9, 10.)


The court must dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). The court must accept all allegations of material fact as true and construe them in light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cedars-Sinai Med. Ctr. v. Nat'l League of Postmasters of U.S., 497 F.3d 972, 975 (9th Cir. 2007). Material allegations, even if doubtful in fact, are assumed to be true. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). However, the court need not "necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations." Warren v. Fox Family Worldwide, Inc., 328 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted). In fact, the court does not need to accept any legal conclusions as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). Instead, the allegations in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. Thus, "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law either for lack of a cognizable legal theory or for insufficient facts under a cognizable theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984).


A. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Claim

The ADA provides that no "individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation." 42 U.S.C.A. § 12182(a). The definition of "place of public accommodation" includes a "sales or rental establishment." 42 U.S.C.A. § 12181(7)(E).

Disability discrimination includes "a failure to remove architectural barriers... in existing facilities... where such removal is readily achievable." 42 U.S.C.A. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iv). Reasonable and readily achievable modifications are required "unless the entity can demonstrate that making such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of such goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations." See 42 U.S.C.A. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii). The regulations highlight that "[a] public accommodation shall remove architectural barriers in existing facilities... where such removal is readily achievable, i.e., easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense." 28 C.F.R. § 36.304(a). The regulations also provide a list of 21 different items as examples of readily removable barriers. The list includes such things as installing ramps, widening doors, repositioning telephones, ...

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