United States District Court, E.D. California
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MORRISON C. ENGLAND JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the present action, Plaintiff Scott Johnson seeks damages and
injunctive relief against Defendants Bourbon Properties, LLC
and C.A.M. Management for violations of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§
12101-12213, as well as California's Unruh Civil Rights
Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 51. Plaintiff claims he
encountered various physical barriers when attempting to
access Defendants' store in Stockton, California.
Plaintiff now moves for summary judgment. ECF No. 29. For the
reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED.
is a quadriplegic who cannot walk, uses a wheelchair, and has
significant manual dexterity impairments. Stmt. of Undisputed
Facts, ECF No. 29-2, ¶¶ 1-2. He drives a specially
equipped van with a lift that deploys from the passenger side
of the van to accommodate his wheelchair. Id. ¶
2. On February 28, 2014, Plaintiff visited Defendants'
store, American Event Rental, where he discovered that though
the store offered parking spaces for its customers, none of
the spaces had been designated for use by persons with
disabilities. Id. ¶¶ 5-6. Because of the
lack of van-accessible parking, Plaintiff was forced to
leave. Id. ¶ 9. He then attempted to return on
three other occasions, but was again deterred from
patronizing the store due to the lack of van-accessible
parking. Id. ¶ 11.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment
when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a);
see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986). One of the principal purposes of Rule 56 is to
dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325.
also allows a court to grant summary judgment on part of a
claim or defense, known as partial summary judgment.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (“A party may move for
summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the
part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is
sought.”); see also Allstate Ins. Co. v.
Madan, 889 F.Supp. 374, 378-79 (C.D. Cal. 1995). The
standard that applies to a motion for partial summary
judgment is the same as that which applies to a motion for
summary judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); State
of Cal. ex rel. Cal. Dep't of Toxic Substances Control v.
Campbell, 138 F.3d 772, 780 (9th Cir. 1998) (applying
summary judgment standard to motion for summary
summary judgment motion, the moving party always bears the
initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis
for the motion and identifying the portions in the record
“which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at
323. “However, if the nonmoving party bears the burden
of proof on an issue at trial, the moving party need not
produce affirmative evidence of an absence of fact to satisfy
its burden.” In re Brazier Forest Prods. Inc.,
921 F.2d 221, 223 (9th Cir. 1990). If the moving party meets
its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the
opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any
material fact actually does exist. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87
(1986); First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co.,
391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968).
attempting to establish the existence or non-existence of a
genuine factual dispute, the party must support its assertion
by “citing to particular parts of materials in the
record, including depositions, documents, electronically
stored information, affidavits[, ] or declarations . . . or
other materials; or showing that the materials cited do not
establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or
that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to
support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The opposing
party must demonstrate that the fact in contention is
material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the
suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 251-52 (1986); Owens v.
Local No. 169, Assoc. of W. Pulp and Paper Workers, 971
F.2d 347, 355 (9th Cir. 1987). The opposing party must also
demonstrate that the dispute about a material fact “is
‘genuine, ' that is, if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In other
words, the judge needs to answer the preliminary question
before the evidence is left to the jury of “not whether
there is literally no evidence, but whether there is any upon
which a jury could properly proceed to find a verdict for the
party producing it, upon whom the onus of proof is
imposed.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251 (quoting
Improvement Co. v. Munson, 81 U.S. 442, 448 (1871)).
As the Supreme Court explained, “[w]hen the moving
party has carried its burden under Rule [56(a)], its opponent
must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita,
475 U.S. at 586. Therefore, “[w]here the record taken
as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find
for the nonmoving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for
trial.'” Id. at 587.
resolving a summary judgment motion, the evidence of the
opposing party is to be believed, and all reasonable
inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the
court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Nevertheless, inferences
are not drawn out of the air, and it is the opposing
party's obligation to produce a factual predicate from
which the inference may be drawn. Richards v. Nielsen
Freight Lines, 602 F.Supp. 1224, 1244-45 (E.D. Cal.
1985), aff'd, 810 F.2d 898 (9th Cir. 1987).
prevail on a claim under Title III of the ADA, “a
plaintiff must show that: (1) he is disabled within the
meaning of the ADA; (2) the defendant is a private entity
that owns, leases, or operates a place of public
accommodation; and (3) the plaintiff was denied public
accommodations by the defendant because of his
disability.” Arizona ex rel. Goddard v. Harkins
Amusement Enters., Inc., 603 F.3d 666, 670 (9th Cir.
2010). “The third element . . . is met if there was a
violation of applicable accessibility standards.”
Moeller v. Taco Bell Corp., 816 F.Supp.2d 831, 847
(N.D. Cal. 2011) (citing Chapman v. Pier 1 Imports
(U.S.), Inc., 631 F.3d 939, 945 (9th Cir. 2011);
Donald v. Cafe Royale, 218 Cal.App.3d 168, 183
(1990)). Defendants do not dispute that Plaintiff is disabled
or that the store in question is a place of public
accommodation. Furthermore, “[t]here is no dispute that
Defendants['] property was not fully ADA compliant when
Plaintiff first visited.” Defs.' Resp., ECF No. 32,
at 1. However, Defendants contest the amount of damages
available to Plaintiff under the Unruh Civil Rights Act due
to the property's non-compliance.
Unruh Civil Rights Act provides, in relevant part: “A
violation of the right of any individual under the federal
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 shall also constitute
a violation of [the Unruh Civil Rights Act].” Cal. Civ.
Code § 51(f). California Civil Code § 52(a) sets a
minimum of $4, 000 in damages for a violation of the Unruh
Civil Rights Act. Plaintiff seeks damages for two violations,
that is, $8, 000: “one for the February 28, 2014[, ]
visit and one for all the many times he was deterred from
visiting.” Pl.'s Mem. of P & A in Supp. of Mot.
for Summ. J. (“MSJ”), ECF No. 29-1, at 10.
Defendants contend that Plaintiff is entitled only to damages
for one visit, that is, $4, 000. Defs.' Resp., at 2.
Defendants argue that Plaintiff's multiple attempted
visits were not reasonable “in light of Plaintiff's
obligation to mitigate his damages.” Id. at 1.
rely solely on California Civil Code § 55.56(h), which
states: “This section does not alter the applicable law
for the awarding of injunctive or other equitable relief for
a violation or violations of one or more construction-related
accessibility standards, nor alter any legal obligation of a
party to mitigate damages.” However, “[t]his
section does not create a duty to mitigate, but merely states
that where one exists, the section does not alter said
duty.” Johnson v. Guedoir, No.
2:14-CV-00930-TLN-AC, 2016 WL 6441611, at *5 (E.D. Cal. Oct.
31, 2016). Defendant argues that “Plaintiff has not
established that his multiple visits to Defendants'
property were ‘reasonable' or necessary.”
Defs.' Resp., at 2. However, Plaintiff seeks damages from
only one visit along with one instance of being deterred from
patronizing the store. The California Civil Code specifically
contemplates both types of Unruh Act violations, see
Cal. Civ. Code § 55.56(b), (d), and Defendants have not
shown that any duty to mitigate damages in relationship to
deterrence arises once a plaintiff ...