United States District Court, C.D. California
DR. LAKHI SAKHRANI ET AL.
CITY OF SAN GABRIEL ET AL.
Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER.
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO
REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION CLAIM (DKT. 95, FILED JANUARY 30,
March 16, 2016, plaintiffs Dr. Lakhi Sakhrani, Priya
Sakhrani, and Quality Dialysis Center Las Tunas, LLC
(collectively, "plaintiffs") filed the operative
First Amended Complaint ("FAC") in this action
against the City of San Gabriel ("the City") and
several officials for the City, namely, Jason Pu, Juli
Costanzo, John Harrington, and Kevin Sawkins (collectively,
"defendants"). Dkt. 11. In the FAC, plaintiffs
assert a number of claims against defendants for violations
of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), the
Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"),
the California Fair Employment and Housing Act
("FEHA"), the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and for a
Writ of Mandate. See generally FAC.
brief, plaintiffs' claims arise out of their attempt to
open a dialysis center on a commercially zoned property in
the City of San Gabriel. Plaintiffs submitted plans to the
city planning commission and city council of San Gabriel
requesting conditional use permits ("CUPs") to
allow the proposed dialysis center to exceed 10, 000 square
feet and to allow the dialysis center to open with 20% fewer
parking spaces than ordinarily required under the City's
zoning laws. The City's Planning Commission ("the
Planning Commission") approved plaintiffs'
applications; however, after a group of concerned citizens
filed an appeal of the Planning Commission's decision,
the City Council for the City of San Gabriel ("the
Council") reversed the Planning Commission's
decision and denied plaintiffs' CUP applications.
16, 2016, the Court granted in part and denied in part
defendants' motion to dismiss the FAC. Dkt. 19.
Specifically, the Court dismissed plaintiffs' claims for
violations of the FHA and the FEHA. Id. Plaintiffs
did not file an amended complaint and have proceeded with
their remaining claims pursuant to the ADA, Rehabilitation
Act, and Unruh Act as well as the writ of mandate claim.
September 26, 2016, plaintiffs filed a motion for partial
summary judgment as to their sixteenth claim seeking a writ
of mandate. Dkt. 43. On December 20, 2016, the Court denied
plaintiffs' motion without prejudice, concluding that
summary judgment as to the writ of mandate claim was
inappropriate before plaintiffs ADA and Rehabilitation Act
claims had been resolved on the merits. Dkt. 83.
January 9, 2017, plaintiffs filed a motion to strike
defendants' jury trial demand. Dkt. 85. On February 6,
2017, the Court granted plaintiffs motion because defendants
do not appear to have a right to a jury trial. Dkt. 131.
However, the Court further determined that, "it would be
prudent to impanel an advisory jury ... to aid the Court in
its findings on what, if any, damages ought to be awarded to
plaintiffs." IcL at 7.
January 30, 2017, plaintiffs filed two motions for partial
summary judgment -one seeking summary judgment with respect
to the reasonable accommodation claim, dkt. 95, and one
seeking summary judgment with respect to the disparate
treatment claim, dkt. 104. In support of both motions,
plaintiffs have filed a consolidated statement of
uncontroverted facts. Dkt. 100. The Court is also in receipt
of plaintiffs exhibits and declarations filed in support of
both motions. Dkts. 95-1, 96, 97, Exhibits and Declaration of
Nilay Vora ("Vora Decl."); Dkt. 98, Declaration of
Cherry Wu ("Wu Decl."); Dkt. 99, Declaration of
Lakhi Sakhrani ("Sakhrani Decl."); & Dkt. 101,
Request for Judicial Notice ("RJN"). Plaintiffs
sought leave to file several declarations by dialysis
patients under seal, dkt. 93, which the Court granted, dkt.
105. Therefore, the Court is also in receipt of nine
declarations from plaintiffs' dialysis patients. Dkts.
115- 120, 122-124. On February 3, 2017, plaintiffs further
supplemented the record by filing a notice of errata
regarding missing portions of Exhibit 4 to Vora's
declaration. Dkt. 127.
February 20, 2017, defendants filed a consolidated opposition
to both motions for partial summary judgment. Dkt. 138. On
March 6, 2017, plaintiffs filed a reply in support of each
motion. Dkts. 146, 147.
memorandum of points and authorities in support of each
motion is 25 pages in length. Pursuant to Local Rule 11-6, no
memorandum may exceed 25 pages unless permitted by order of
the Court. On March 9, 2017, the Court held a status
conference with both parties during which the Court notified
plaintiffs that, by filing two separate motions for partial
summary judgment with respect to separate claims, they had
improperly evaded the page length limitation enshrined in the
local rules. The Court indicated its tentative intent to deny
both motions without prejudice on that basis and permit
plaintiffs to file a single, consolidated motion for summary
judgment with respect to any or all of plaintiffs'
claims. Thereafter, plaintiffs' counsel stated that
plaintiffs preferred to maintain the existing hearing date of
March 20, 2017, for these matters and would therefore
withdraw the motion for partial summary judgment with respect
to the disparate treatment claim, dkt. 104. Without objection
from defendants, the Court permitted plaintiffs to withdraw
the motion with respect to the disparate treatment claim and
proceed solely on the instant motion for partial summary
judgment with respect to their reasonable accommodation
claim. Dkt. 148.
accordance with the foregoing, the Court proceeds to decide
plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment with
respect to their claim for failure to provide a reasonable
accommodation. Having carefully considered the parties'
arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.
otherwise noted the following factual background is
provide dialysis and medical treatment to individuals who
suffer from total failure of their kidneys, known as End
Stage Renal Disease ("ESRD"). Patients with ESRD
must receive dialysis three to four times per week for three
to four hours per session. If patients with ESRD do not
receive this regular treatment they will die. Dialysis
treatment centers often operate with extended hours beginning
early in the morning and closing late at night because many
patients are employed and must complete their treatment
outside of normal work hours. Additionally, patients are
typically brought to and from treatment in shuttles that
serve dialysis patients rather than in their own vehicles.
The relative scarcity of dialysis treatment centers and the
increasing demand for dialysis treatment imposes severe
burdens upon those who suffer from ESRD, who must adapt their
schedules to accommodate transportation to and from treatment
as well as ensure they are available for treatment during
whatever slots are available at nearby facilities.
emergency requiring the partial or total shut down of a
dialysis facility places dialysis patients at serious risk.
Accordingly, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
has adopted a regulation requiring that dialysis providers
have emergency preparedness plans, including arrangements
with other dialysis facilities to ensure continuity of care
in the event that one facility is forced to limit or cease
Dr. Lakhi Sakhrani ("Dr. Sakhrani") is presently
the owner of Quality Dialysis Center, a dialysis center
located on San Gabriel Boulevard in San Gabriel ("QDC
San Gabriel"). The facility at QDC San Gabriel is 9, 900
square feet, contains 36 dialysis treatment stations, has 41
available parking spaces, and borders a residential
neighborhood. Over 80 percent of QDC San Gabriel's
patients are low-income and have their treatment paid for
through Medi-Cal. QDC San Gabriel has virtually no ability to
take on additional patients because it operates at 94% of its
treatment is necessary for a person with ESRD to survive and
even small delays or gaps in treatment pose a mortal risk to
dialysis patients. For those receiving dialysis treatment,
the five-year survival rate is 35 percent and between 20 and
25 percent of ESRD patients die within the first year of
beginning treatment. Despite the risks faced by ESRD
patients, it is undisputed that there is a scarcity of
dialysis treatment options in Southern California, which is
exacerbated by an increase in the incidence of kidney
failure. The parties agree that the present scarcity of
treatment options in Southern California imposes severe
burdens upon ESRD patients, who must venture farther in
search of treatment and must accept treatment slots that
interfere with their ability to work, spend time with family,
or perform everyday tasks for themselves. Because QDC San
Gabriel operates, for practical purposes, at full-capacity.
Dr. Sakhrani and his staff have been forced to turn away
patients and impose onerous burdens on their existing
have submitted several declarations from current patients at
QDC San Gabriel. Generally, the patient-declarations describe
the practical importance of additional dialysis treatment
spaces and flexible scheduling arrangements wherever
possible. For example, L.B. describes how she must ride
several buses for approximately four hours Monday, Wednesday,
and Friday just to get from her home to her dialysis
treatment and then to work afterwards. Dkt. 109, L.B.
Declaration (Redacted) ("L.B. Deck) ¶¶ 5-6. If
she did not have a dialysis treatment slot at 4:00 a.m. at
QDC San Gabriel, she claims that she would not be able to
work her full-time job from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and she
would, therefore, lose her health insurance coverage. Id.
¶ 7. For another patient, C.T.L., the existing
treatment timeslot available at QDC San Gabriel prevents her
from working as much as she otherwise might. Dkt. 106, C.T.L.
Declaration (Redacted) ("C.T.L. Deck") ¶ 5.
C.T.L. has Hepatitis B, which requires that she receive
dialysis in an isolated treatment station, Id.
¶ 4. Because of her Hepatitis B, C.T.L. must contend
with even scarcer treatment options and adapt her life around
the sole available timeslot during which she can receive
treatment at QDC San Gabriel. Id. ¶ 4. Several
patients describe the practical effects that a scarcity of
treatment options has had upon them and their families, upon
whom they rely for support. See e.g. Dkt. 110, E.S.
Declaration (Redacted) (wife quit her job and drives patient
to/from treatment); Dkt. 112, K.W. Declaration (Redacted)
(moved in with son, who switched to working part-time in
order to drive K.W. to treatment).
of the scarcity of treatment spaces in Southern California
and the newly adopted emergency preparedness regulation,
plaintiffs have been searching for a location to open a
second dialysis facility. Cherry Wu, the facility
administrator for QDC San Gabriel, claims that plaintiffs
looked for two and a half years to find a property that would
suit their needs and that:
there are virtually no available properties with enough space
to accommodate a dialysis center that complies with all
applicable statutes and regulations as well as parking. I
have continued to look for available properties for a new
dialysis center, but have not been able to find one.
Decl. ¶ 13. In September 2014, Dr. Sakhrani entered into
a long-term lease for a parcel of property located at 237 E.
Las Tunas Drive in San Gabriel ("the Property") for
the purpose of building a new dialysis center ("QDC Las
Tunas"). Dr. Sakhrani planned for QDC Las Tunas to have
a similar number of treatment stations as QDC San Gabriel (37
to QDC San Gabriel's 36) and for QDC Las Tunas to operate
in parallel with QDC San Gabriel - with the same number of
employees, number of patients, hours, and patient
transportation arrangements - and for each to operate as an
emergency back-up for the other.
parties agree that QDC Las Tunas must have a comparable
number of treatment stations as QDC San Gabriel if either
facility is to act as an emergency back-up for the
other's patients. The parties also agree that federal
regulations enacted in 2013 require QDC Las Tunas to have a
larger building than QDC San Gabriel if QDC Las Tunas is
going to operate with a comparable number of treatment
medical facilities are permitted on the Property, the
City's land use regulations require a conditional use
permit for any medical facility on the property that exceeds
10, 000 square feet. Additionally, a facility like the
proposed QDC Las Tunas would ordinarily be required to have
35 total parking spaces. Accordingly, Dr. Sakhrani eventually
learned that in order to build QDC Las Tunas with 37 dialysis
treatment stations, he would need to obtain two CUPs from the
City of San Gabriel: (1) to build a medical facility larger
than 10, 000 square feet: and (2) for a twenty percent
reduction in the number of required parking spaces because of
the size of the Property. Although the parties agree that
plaintiffs could build a dialysis center on the Property
without requiring CUP approval if the proposed building were