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Vogel v. Winchell'S Donut Houses Operating Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 18, 2017

MARTIN VOGEL, Plaintiff,
v.
WINCHELL'S DONUT HOUSES OPERATING COMPANY, LP, Defendant.

          ORDER RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, SUMMARY ADJUDICATION [32]

          HONORABLE RONALD S.W. LEW Senior U.S. District Judge.

         Currently before the Court is Defendant Winchell's Donut Houses Operating Company, LP (“Defendant”) Motion for Summary Judgment, or, in the Alternative, Summary Adjudication (“Motion”) [32] as to all claims in the Complaint. Having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion, the Court NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff Martin Vogel (“Plaintiff”) is a “physically disabled” T-3 paraplegic who requires the use of a wheelchair when traveling in public. Compl. ¶ 8, ECF No. 1. Defendant owns, operates, and/or leases a Pizza Hut Restaurant in Norwalk, California (the “Restaurant”). Id. at ¶ 2.

         Plaintiff visited the Restaurant on January 3, 2016. Decl. of Martin Vogel (“Vogel Decl.”) ¶ 2, ECF No 33-1. Plaintiff alleges that both the Restaurant's disabled parking space and the access aisle are too steep, mainly due to an encroaching built-up ramp. Compl. ¶ 10. Because the parking space and access aisle are not level, Plaintiff cannot easily transfer from a vehicle because his wheelchair rolls, or a lift platform for his wheelchair cannot sit level. Id. These barriers prevented Plaintiff from full and equal access to the Restaurant, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and related state-law disability claims. Id.

         After Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, Defendant repaved the disabled parking space and access aisle so that both comply with current accessibility standards. Decl. of Tim Stockton (“Stockton Decl.”) ¶ 1, ECF No. 32-3. Currently, the parking space and access aisle slopes are no steeper than 1:48, in conformity with the ADA and California Building Code (“CBC”) standards. Id. at ¶ 2, Exs. A, B, ECF. Nos. 32:4-5.

         B. Procedural Background

         On February 9, 2016, Plaintiff filed this Complaint, alleging Defendant violated the following: (1) the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., by denying him “full and equal enjoyment” of the Restaurant premises; (2) the California Disabled Persons Act (“CDPA”), California Civil Code § 54; (3) the Unruh Civil Rights Act (“Unruh Act”), California Civil Code § 51, and (4) denial of full and equal access to public facilities, California Health & Safety Code § 19955 et seq. Compl. ¶¶ 17, 36-38, 43-45, 48-51.

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment that Defendant violated the ADA. Id. at ¶ 31. For each CDPA offense, Plaintiff seeks actual damages, statutory minimum damages of $1, 000, declaratory relief, and any other relevant remedies. Id. at ¶ 37; Cal. Civ. Code § 54.3. For each Unruh Act violation, Plaintiff seeks statutory minimum damages of $4, 000. Compl. ¶ 45; Cal. Civ. Code § 52. Plaintiff also seeks injunctive relief and attorneys' fees for any violation of California Health & Safety Code § 19955. Compl. ¶ 51; Cal. Health & Safety Code § 19953.

         On March 20, 2017, Defendant filed its Motion [32]. On March 28, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Opposition [33]. On April 4, 2017, Defendant filed its Reply and Evidentiary Objections [35-1] to the Vogel Declaration [33-1].

         II. FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. Plaintiff's Complaint identifies two alleged barriers: (1) a disabled parking space has excessive slopes due at least in part to an encroaching built-up curb ramp; (2) the access aisle has excessive slopes due mainly to an encroaching built-up curb ramp. Def.'s Stmt. of Uncontroverted Facts (“Def.'s SUF”) ¶ 1, ECF No. 32-2; Pl.'s Stmt. of Genuine Disputes (“Pl.'s Facts”) ¶¶ 1-2, ECF No. 33-4; Compl. ¶ 10.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 states that a “court shall grant 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). A fact is “material” for purposes of summary judgment if it might affect the outcome of the suit, and a “genuine issue” exists if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The evidence, and any inferences based on underlying facts, must be viewed in the light most favorable to the opposing party. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. v. MCA, Inc., 715 F.2d 1327, 1329 ...


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