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Langer v. G.W. Properties L.P.

United States District Court, S.D. California

June 21, 2016

CHRIS LANGER, Plaintiff,
G.W. PROPERTIES, L.P., et al., Defendants.


          Hon. Cynthia Bashant United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Chris Langer ("Plaintiff") commenced this action against Defendants G.W. Properties, L.P.; Platt Management, Inc.; and Reprohaus Corp. (collectively, "Defendants") on October 29, 2015, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act. This action arises from an incident in September of 2015 at a parking lot operated and leased by Reprohaus Corp. ("Reprohaus") from the remaining Defendants, where Plaintiff attempted to park in the lot, but was unable to find a handicap-accessible parking space. Defendants move to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Defs.' Mot. 9:3- 6, ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff opposes. (Pl.'s Opp'n 1:2-6, 10:2-3, ECF No. 15.)

         The Court finds this motion suitable for determination on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Reprohaus is a small commercial printing business located at 1400 L. Street, San Diego, California, 92101. (Taing Decl. ¶¶ 2-3, ECF No. 14-3.) On April 1, 2015, Reprohaus began its current lease of the property. (Id. ¶ 4.) G.W. Properties, L.P. and Platt Management, Inc. are the owners of the property. (Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 1.) Tito Taing is the owner and President of Reprohaus. (Taing Decl. ¶ 2.) Reprohaus's gated parking lot is surrounded by an eight-foot high fence with barbed wire at the top. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) Normally, Reprohaus's parking lot is not open to the public and is available exclusively to Reprohaus's employees and commercial clients. (Id. ¶ 5; Defs.' Mot. 1:4-5, ECF No. 14.) Reprohaus is located five blocks from Petco Park. (Defs.' Mot. 3:7-10.) There are no handicap-accessible parking spaces in the Reprohaus parking lot. (Id. 6:14-15; Compl. ¶¶ 13-14.)

         In the summer of 2015, Mr. Taing allowed the Reprohaus parking lot to be made available to members of the public. (Taing Decl. ¶ 7.) On a limited basis, patrons of events at Petco Park were able to park in the lot. (Id.) During these events, the lot was managed by employees of Reprohaus. (Defs.' Mot. 1:6-8.) Based on this public parking arrangement, patrons of Petco Park paid a fee in exchange for the convenience of parking in the Reprohaus lot. (Id. 6:10-11; Compl. ¶ 10.)

         Mr. Langer is a paraplegic who cannot walk and who uses a wheelchair for mobility. (Compl. ¶ 1.) In September of 2015, Mr. Langer attended a baseball game at Petco Park. (Id. ¶ 10.) Mr. Langer attempted to park in the Reprohaus parking lot. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 17.) Mr. Langer was not able to find a handicap-accessible parking space for his van in the Reprohaus lot. (Id. ¶¶ 13-17.) Consequently, Mr. Langer could not park in the Reprohaus lot, but instead had to park in a different lot in the area. (Id. ¶ 17.) Mr. Langer alleges he intends to return and patronize the Reprohaus lot in the future. (Id. ¶18.) In late September of 2015, Mr. Taing "made the executive decision to not allow the parking lot to be used" by members of the public attending events at Petco Park. (Taing Decl. ¶ 8.) Mr. Langer filed this action on October 29, 2015.


         Under Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may move to dismiss a claim based on the court's lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). "A federal court is presumed to lack jurisdiction in a particular case unless the contrary affirmatively appears." Stock W., Inc. v. Confederated Tribes, 873 F.2d 1221, 1225 (9th Cir. 1989). Article III of the Constitution restricts the exercise of the judicial power to "actual, ongoing cases or controversies." Wolfson v. Brammer, 616 F.3d 1045, 1053 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Lewis v. Cont'l Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477 (1990) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, "[t]o qualify as a case fit for federal-court adjudication, an actual controversy must be extant at all stages of review, not merely at the time the complaint is filed." Arizonans for Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43, 67 (1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). A case or controversy becomes moot, and thus no longer suitable for adjudication, when the issues presented are no longer live or when the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome. Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, 496, (1969).

         The focus of the mootness inquiry is whether the court can grant effective relief to a litigant seeking a favorable judicial decision. See NASD Dispute Resolution, Inc. v. Judicial Council of Cal., 488 F.3d 1065, 1068 (9th Cir. 2007) (explaining that the test for mootness is whether the court can grant a litigant any effective relief in the event it decides the matter on the merits in the litigant's favor); Nw. Envtl. Def. Ctr. v. Gordon, 849 F.2d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 1988) ("The basic question in determining mootness is whether there is a present controversy as to which effective relief can be granted."). If a court's determination of an issue presented will not "admit[] of specific relief, " or cannot otherwise affect the rights of the litigants in the case before it, then the court must dismiss the case due to lack of jurisdiction. Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 240-41 (1937); see North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246 (1971); Horizon Bank & Trust Co. v. Massachusetts, 391 F.3d 48, 53 (1st Cir. 2004) ("[A] case not moot at the outset can become moot because of a change in the fact situation underlying the dispute, making relief now pointless."); Am. Rivers v. Nat'l Marine Fisheries Serv., 126 F.3d 1118, 1123 (9th Cir. 1997) ("If an event occurs that prevents the court from granting effective relief, the claim is moot and must be dismissed."). The mootness doctrine thus ensures the federal courts properly restrict themselves to deciding cases and controversies capable of legal resolution, while avoiding improper declarations on abstract propositions of law. See Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 48 (1969); Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 18 (1998) ("[Federal courts] are not in the business of pronouncing that past actions which have no demonstrable continuing effect were right or wrong.").

         A jurisdictional attack under Rule 12(b)(1) can be either facial or factual. White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1242 (9th Cir. 2000). In a facial attack, the challenger asserts that the allegations in the complaint are insufficient to invoke federal jurisdiction, and the court is limited in its review to the allegations in the complaint. Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). In a factual attack, the challenger provides evidence that an alleged fact in the complaint is false, thereby resulting in a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Id. Therefore, under a factual attack, the allegations in the complaint are not presumed to be true and "the district court is not restricted to the face of the pleadings, but may review any evidence, such as affidavits and testimony, to resolve factual disputes concerning the existence of jurisdiction." McCarthy v. United States, 850 F.2d 558, 560 (9th Cir. 1988). "Once the moving party has converted the motion to dismiss into a factual motion by presenting affidavits or other evidence properly brought before the court, the party opposing the motion must furnish affidavits or other evidence necessary to satisfy its burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction." Savage v. Glendale Union High Sch., 343 F.3d 1036, 1039 n.2 (9th Cir. 2003). However, "[a] court may not resolve genuinely disputed facts where ‘the question of jurisdiction is dependent on the resolution of factual issues going to the merits.'" Roberts v. Corrothers, 812 F.2d 1173, 1177 (9th Cir. 1987) (quoting Augustine v. United States, 704 F.2d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir. 1983)).


         Plaintiff's lone federal claim is an alleged violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The ADA prohibits discrimination that interferes with disabled individuals' "full and equal enjoyment" of places of public accommodation. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). Under the ADA, unlawful discrimination occurs when a disabled individual is subjected "to a denial of the opportunity . . . to participate in or benefit from the . . . accommodations of an entity." Id. § 12182(b)(1)(A)(i). The ADA defines a disabled individual as one whose physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities. Id. § 12102(1)(A).

         The ADA Accessibility Guidelines ("ADAAG") provide "the objective contours of the standard that architectural features must not impede disabled individuals' full and equal enjoyment of accommodations." Chapman v. Pier 1 Imps. (U.S.), Inc., 631 F.3d 939, 945 (9th Cir. 2011). Pursuant to the ADAAG, any facility classified as a public accommodation under the ADA with 1-25 parking spaces must provide a minimum of one accessible parking space. 2010 ADAAG Standards ยง 208.2, 36 C.F.R. Pt. 1191, App. B. In order for a parking space to be considered accessible, it must comply with the specific ...

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