United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER JUDGE.
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(IN CHAMBERS) - DEFENDANT SCOTT A. BURKLE'S MOTION TO
DISMISS (Dkt. 18, filed March 29, 2017)
Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral
argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; C.D. Cal. L.R.
7-15. Accordingly, the hearing date of May 1, 2017 is
vacated, and the matter is hereby taken under submission.
March 9, 2017, plaintiff Jesus Gutierrez filed this action
against defendants Teresa Gonzalez and Scott A. Burkle. Dkt.
1 (“Compl.”). Plaintiff asserts six claims: (1)
violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
3601 et seq.; (2) violation of the California Fair
Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Govt. Code §§
12955 et seq.; (3) violation of the California
Disabled Persons Act, Cal. Civil Code §§ 54 et
seq.; (4) violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal.
Civil Code §§ 51 et seq.; retaliation in
violation of California Civil Code § 1942.5(c); and (6)
negligence. Id. This case arises from
defendants' alleged refusal to permit plaintiff to have
an emotional support animal in his apartment.
March 16, 2017, the Court denied plaintiff's an ex parte
application for a temporary restraining order that would have
enjoined Gonzalez from commencing eviction proceedings
against him in state court. Dkt. 16.
March 29, 2017, Burkle filed the instant motion to dismiss
plaintiff's claims. Dkt. 18 (“Motion”).
Plaintiff filed his opposition on April 10, 2017. Dkt. 24
(“Opp'n). Burkle has not filed a reply.
carefully considered the parties' arguments, the Court
finds and concludes as follows.
alleges the following facts.
suffers from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and
osteoarthritis, the severity of which causes plaintiff to
experience feelings of stress, anxiety, inadequacy, and
hopelessness. Compl. ¶¶ 8-10. Approximately two
years ago, plaintiff obtained an emotional support animal-a
dog named Karma-that had a beneficial impact on his health.
Id. ¶ 10.
October 1, 2016, plaintiff-along with his girlfriend and
their ten-year old daughter-moved into a residence at 4742
Live Oak Street, Cudahy, California (the “subject
property”). Id. ¶¶ 5, 12. Gonzalez
owns, operates and manages the subject property, while Burkle
serves as an ad hoc manager for the property. Id.
¶¶ 6-7. When plaintiff moved into the subject
property, he left Karma with friends because defendants
prohibit tenants from having pets. Id. ¶ 13.
However, when plaintiff experienced a flare up of his
rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in November 2016, plaintiff
contacted the Housing Rights Center (“HRC”) for
assistance with requesting a reasonable accommodation to
allow him to have an emotional support animal at the subject
property. Id. ¶¶ 13-14.
January 4, 2017, HRC sent a letter to Gonzalez requesting
that plaintiff be permitted to have his companion animal in
the subject property as a reasonable accommodation for his
physical disabilities. Id. ¶ 14. The letter was
accompanied by a December 20, 2016 note from Dr. Terence T.Z.
Tan, recommending that plaintiff be permitted to have a
companion pet. Id.
January 17, 2017, HRC received a letter from Burkle denying
plaintiff's request for a companion animal as an
accommodation for his disability. Id. ¶ 15.
Burkle stated that plaintiff's request was unreasonable
because the insurance policy covering the subject property
required the owner to have a “no pets” rule.
Id. According to Burkle, granting plaintiff's
request would place Gonzalez at risk of losing her property
insurance and, therefore, at risk of defaulting on her
mortgage, which requires insurance coverage as a condition of
the mortgage. Id. Burkle attached to his note a
letter from the property insurer, Don Dixon & Associates
Insurance, Inc. (“Don Dixon”), which stated that
the renewal terms for the insurance policy and the premiums
were based on the no pets rule, among other features of the
property. Id. ¶ 16.
about January 17, 2017, HRC contacted Don Dixon to ask for an
explanation of its insurance renewal letter. Id.
¶ 17. The Don Dixon agent told HRC that the terms of the
insurance policy, including the no pets rule, were not
restrictions imposed by the insurance provider, but were
based on answers that Gonzalez provided in response to
questions from the insurer. Id.
January 18, 2017, HRC asked Burkle for authorization to speak
with the property insurance provider about the specific
policy covering the subject property to confirm that
plaintiff's request would place Gonzalez's property
insurance and mortgage at risk. Id. ¶ 18. HRC
told Burkle that plaintiff sought such information to engage
in the interactive process with the goal of reaching a
mutually beneficial arrangement. Id. Burkle
allegedly refused to engage in the interactive process.
about January 25, 2017, HRC sent defendants a second written
request for a reasonable accommodation on behalf of
plaintiff, and made several follow-up telephone calls, but
received no response. Id. ¶ 19 On February 15,
2017, plaintiff was served with a 30-notice to vacate,
allegedly in retaliation for requesting a reasonable
accommodation. Id. ¶ 20. This has exacerbated
plaintiff's stress and anxiety and placed plaintiff's
housing at risk. Id. ¶ 23.
continues to reside at the subject property without his
medically-prescribed emotional ...