Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Castillo-Antonio v. Iqbal

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 24, 2017

JOSE DANIEL CASTILLO-ANTONIO, Plaintiff,
v.
SARA IQBAL, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS, AND FOR MISCELLANEOUS RELIEF RE: DKT. NO. 98

          KANDIS A. WESTMORE United States Magistrate Judge.

         On July 22, 2014, Plaintiff Jose Daniel Castillo-Antonio filed the instant suit, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and California civil rights statutes, including the Unruh Civil Rights Act, California Disabled Persons Act, and California Health and Safety Code § 19955 et seq. (Dkt. No. 1.) On December 21, 2016, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment, finding that Plaintiff had established violations of the ADA, Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the California Disabled Persons Act. (Summary Judgment Ord. at 10-11, Dkt. No. 95.) The Court found that Plaintiff was entitled to injunctive relief under the ADA, as well as statutory penalties under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. (Id. at 12.) The Court also ordered the parties to meet and confer regarding the amount of attorney's fees and costs, and directed Plaintiff to file a motion for attorney's fees if the parties could not agree. (Id.) Subsequently, Defendants appealed the Court's summary judgment order. (Dkt. No. 96.)

         On February 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for attorney's fees, seeking $75, 360 in attorney's fees and $8, 330.19 in costs and expenses, as well as $6, 700 for attorney's fees incurred to bring the instant motion. (Plf.'s Mot. ¶ 1, Dkt. No. 98.) Plaintiff also seeks miscellaneous relief regarding the form of Defendant Wassem Iqbal's name, and the form of the "dba" designation and "individual" designation for Defendants Sara Iqbal, Wassem Iqbal, and Bushra Begum. (Id.)

         The Court deemed the matter suitable for disposition without hearing pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), and vacated the hearing previously set for March 16, 2017. (Dkt. No. 106.) Upon consideration of the papers, and for the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         In 2009, Plaintiff suffered a gunshot wound which caused permanent spinal injuries that require him to use a wheelchair. (Castillo-Antonio Decl. ¶ 1, Dkt. No. 71-8.) On May 2, 2014 and July 9, 2014, Plaintiff visited the Union 76 gas station at issue in this suit, in order to buy food and lottery tickets. (Second Amended Complaint ¶ 13, SAC, Dkt. No. 12; Castillo-Antonio Decl. ¶ 4.) The Union 76 gas station is located close to Plaintiff's residence, and is on the way to places that Plaintiff regularly visits, including Costco, a nearby dog park, and the Bay where Plaintiff fishes. (Castillo-Antonio Decl. ¶ 3.)

         When Plaintiff visited the Union 76 gas station, Plaintiff encountered barriers in the parking lot. Specifically, Plaintiff states that the designated handicapped parking spot was not in compliance with federal and state laws regarding handicapped spaces, including that: (1) the space was not 18 feet long, (2) the space had a slope of over 2%, (3) there was no discernable accessible path of travel from the space to the front entrance of the store, (4) the loading zone did not have a "no parking" sign painted in it, (5) the signage did not include a $250 fine" warning, and (6) the handicapped symbol on the asphalt was faded. (Castillo-Antonio Decl. ¶ 4(a).) As a result of these deficiencies, Plaintiff was concerned about parking safely and making his way to the front entrance through cross-traffic with his daughter, who was accompanying him. This was because to reach the front entrance, Plaintiff had to pass through an area that vehicles go through to park in non-disabled spots and access the gas pumps. Further, there was a slope that made getting in and out of his vehicle more difficult because his wheelchair could roll away. (Id.)

         Plaintiff also used the restroom when he visited on July 9, 2014. (Castillo-Antonio Dep. at 72:17-19, Dkt. No. 88-2.) Plaintiff states that the restroom was not in compliance with federal and state laws regarding handicapped spaces, including certain specified distances between the toilet and wall, grab bar, and toilet paper dispenser. (Castillo-Antonio Decl. ¶ 4(b).) The soap dispenser was mounted too high, and the restroom door required more than five pounds of pressure to push open. As a result of these deficiencies, Plaintiff states that the bars' wrong position caused him to strain and stretch more than he was able to stretch, that he was not able to use the toilet paper because he could not reach it, that he had difficulty using the toilet, and that he could not open the door without assistance. (Castillo-Antonio Dep. at 73:22-24, 78:1-9; 78:19-79:1; Castillo-Antonio Decl. ¶ 4(b).) There was also insufficient space at the doorway, making it more difficult to maneuver. (Castillo-Antonio Decl. ¶ 4(b).)

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed this action on July 22, 2014. On June 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed a request for a further case management conference and other miscellaneous relief, describing various discovery disputes between the parties. (Dkt. No. 40.) On June 10, 2016, the Court issued an order, requiring the parties to meet and confer regarding any outstanding discovery issues and stating that "the parties are expected to resolve their disputes without further judicial intervention." (Dkt. No. 43.) Defendants filed their response to the request the day after the Court issued its ruling. (Dkt. No. 44.)

         On August 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the case management scheduling order to extend deadlines for discovery and to amend pleadings. (Dkt. No. 54.) Defendants did not file an opposition, and the Court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff's motion, extending the discovery deadline. (Dkt. No. 59.)

         On September 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed a request for miscellaneous relief, based on Defendant Sadia Ghani Iqbal's refusal to produce certain discovery, and explaining that Defendants' counsel refused to participate in the joint letter process. (Dkt. No. 61 ¶¶ 7-8.) On September 19, 2016, the parties filed a joint letter on a separate discovery dispute, regarding Defendant Wassem Iqbal's deposition. (Dkt. No. 63.) On September 21, 2016, the Court terminated Plaintiff's September 14, 2016 request, and ordered Defendant Sadia Ghani Iqbal to provide her portion to the joint letter. (Dkt. No. 67.) Defendant Sadia Ghani Iqbal did not comply, prompting Plaintiff to file another request for miscellaneous relief on October 10, 2016, based on both Defendant Sadia Ghani Iqbal's and Defendant Wassem Iqbal's refusal to provide certain discovery. (Dkt. No. 69 ¶¶ 7-9.) On October 14, 2016, the Court issued an order on the September 19, 2016 discovery letter and the October 10, 2016 request for miscellaneous relief; the Court terminated the request for miscellaneous relief and again ordered Defendants to provide their portion to the joint letter. (Dkt. No. 70 at 2.) The Court also issued an order to show cause, requiring Defendants' counsel to explain why he should not be sanctioned for failing to comply with the Court's September 21, 2016 order. (Id. at 3.) On October 21, 2016, Defendants' counsel responded to the order to show cause, stating that they had not complied with the prior orders due to "server and email issues over the past 6 months, " but that they had decided to provide the discovery at issue. (Dkt. No. 78 at 1-2.) The Court then discharged the order to show cause. (Dkt. No. 81.)

         On October 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the following issues: (1) that certain barriers existed at Defendants' Union 76 gas station when Plaintiff visited the business on May 2, 2014 and July 9, 2014; (2) that Plaintiff personally encountered these barriers; and (3) that one barrier still exists, entitling Plaintiff to an injunction, damages, and attorney's fees. (Dkt. No. 71.) After briefing and a hearing on the matter, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion in full, awarding injunctive relief under the ADA and statutory damages under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. (Summary Judgment Ord. at 12.) The Court also ordered the parties to meet and confer regarding the amount of attorney's fees and costs to be awarded. (Id.) If no agreement was reached, Plaintiff was to file a motion for attorney's fees.

         On January 19, 2017, Defendants filed an appeal of the Court's summary judgment order. (Dkt. No. 96.) Plaintiff then filed the instant motion for attorney's fees and expenses, and seeking miscellaneous relief. Defendants' opposition was due on February 15, 2017. (See Civil L.R. 7-3(a) ("The opposition must be filed and served not more than 14 days after the motion was filed").) Defendants failed to timely oppose; on February 16, 2017, the Court issued an order to show cause, requiring Defendants, on or before February 23, 2017, to 1) file an opposition or statement of non-opposition to Plaintiff's motion, and 2) respond to the order to show cause by explaining why they did not file a timely opposition. (Dkt. No. 101.) On February 24, 2017, Defendants filed a response to the order to show cause, stating that they could not file an opposition by February 23, 2017 because Defendants' counsel's server allegedly stopped working. (Dkt. No. 102 ¶ 1.) Defendants requested an extension of time to file their opposition until February 28, 2017. (Id. ¶ 3.) The Court granted the request for an extension of time, but also ordered Defendants' counsel to respond to the February 16, 2017 order to show cause by explaining why he did not file a timely opposition on February 15, 2017. (Dkt. No. 103.) On February 28, 2017, Defendants filed their opposition to Plaintiff's motion; Defendants, however, again failed to respond to the February 16, 2017 order to show cause. (Defs.' Opp'n, Dkt. No. 104.) No reply was filed.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The ADA provides: "In any action or administrative proceeding commenced pursuant to this chapter, the court or agency, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party . . . a reasonable attorney's fee, including litigation expenses, and costs . . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 12205. The Ninth Circuit has made clear that "[a] prevailing party under the ADA should ordinarily recover an attorney's fee unless special circumstances would render such an award unjust, " observing that "[i]f successful plaintiffs were routinely forced to bear their own attorneys' fees, few aggrieved parties would be in a position to advance the public interest by invoking the injunctive power of the federal courts." Jankey v. Poop Deck, 537 F.3d 1122, 1130, 1131 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations omitted). Thus, "recovery is the rule, rather than the exception." Id. (internal quotation omitted).

         Likewise, the California Civil Code provides that the prevailing party in an action asserting "a violation of Section 54 or 54.1 of this code" "shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees." Cal. Civ. Code § 55. California Civil Code § 54(c) states that "[a] violation of the right of an individual under the [ADA] also constitutes a violation of this section." Thus, a plaintiff who demonstrates an ADA violation is also entitled to attorney's fees under California Civil Code § 55.

         "The calculation of a reasonable fee award is a two-step process." Kalani v. Starbucks Corp., Case No. 13-cv-734-LHK, 2016 WL 379623 at *4 (citing Fischer v. SJB-P.D., Inc., 214 F.3d 1115, 1119 (9th Cir. 2000)). At the first step, the court "calculat[es] the 'lodestar figure, ' or presumptive award, by multiplying the hours reasonably spent on the litigation by the attorney's reasonable hourly rate." Id. (citing Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983)). The Supreme Court has cautioned, however, that "[h]ours that are not properly billed to one's client also are not properly billed to one's adversary pursuant to statutory authority." Hensley, 461 U.S. at 434 (internal quotation omitted). "Accordingly, the district court should exclude from this initial calculation hours that were not reasonably expended, including where a case ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.