United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS
LABSON FREEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Scott Johnson (“Johnson”) filed this public
accommodations disability discrimination lawsuit against
Defendants Jack N. Mariani, Megan Mariani Lombardi, Donald F.
Lombardi and Does 1-10, (collectively
“Defendants”). Compl. ¶¶ 2-20. Before
the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint
under Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(1). For the reasons stated
below, the motion is DENIED.
complaint, Johnson asserts a federal cause of action under
the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”), and
California state law claims under the Unruh Civil Rights Act
(“UCRA”) (California Civil Code §§
51-53). Compl. ¶¶ 21-22. Johnson alleges that he
visited Defendants' Lombardi Auto Service on a number of
occasions between September 2016 and January 2017.
Id. ¶ 24. According to Johnson, “there
were no parking spaces marked and reserved for persons with
disabilities during any of plaintiff's visits.”
Id. ¶ 27. Johnson further alleges that there
used to be a compliant, accessible parking space in the
parking lot prior to February 2016, but Defendants have
allowed the spaces to fade or get paved over. Id.
¶¶ 28-29. Johnson requests injunctive relief under
the ADA and UCRA and actual damages under the UCRA.
Id. at 10. Johnson further seeks reasonable
attorneys' fees and costs under both the ADA and UCRA.
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint.
Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001).
In considering whether the complaint is sufficient to state a
claim, the Court must accept as true all of the factual
allegations contained in the complaint. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). However, the Court need
not accept as true “allegations that contradict matters
properly subject to judicial notice or by exhibit” or
“allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted
deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In
re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th
Cir. 2008). While a complaint need not allege detailed
factual allegations, it “must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is
facially plausible when it “allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678.
“Determining whether a complaint states a plausible
claim for relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.
argue that the Court should decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the UCRA claim. Mot. 3. Specifically,
Defendants contend that the UCRA claim is subject to
stringent pleading requirements under California Code of
Civil Procedure § 425.50. Id. at 3-4. According
to Defendants, the state procedural rule requires
verification of the complaint, detailed pleading on how the
barriers interfered with or deterred Johnson's access,
detailed pleading on the dates Johnson encountered the
barriers, and a statement on whether Johnson is a
high-frequency litigant. Id. at 6. Defendants
further argue that since UCRA allows for a mandatory minimum
damages award, Johnson's request for monetary remedies
under UCRA claim is Johnson's primary motive for this
case and predominates over the injunctive claim. Id.
at 7. Finally, Defendants asserts that Johnson fails to
establish this Court's jurisdiction. Id. at
opposition, Johnson first notes that even though Defendants
make references to lack of federal jurisdiction and standing,
Mot. 1, they never proffer any argument or legal basis in
support of a Rule 12(b)(1) ground for dismissal. Opp'n 2,
ECF 17. Johnson next argues that the complaint provides
sufficient allegations, including that “there is not a
single parking space marked and reserved for persons with
disabilities” and that “there was no accessible
path of travel to the entrance of the Auto Service.”
Compl. ¶¶ 30-33. As such, Johnson avers that to the
extent Defendants attempt to dismiss the ADA claims on the
ground that they only allege “technical violations,
” the motion should be denied. Opp'n 3-4. Johnson
further contends that the complaint would meet the pleading
requirements under federal rules of civil procedure as well
as § 425.50. Id. at 4. Nonetheless, Johnson
asserts that meeting the requirements under § 425.50
would not be necessary in this Court. Id. at 5.
Finally, Johnson argues that his UCRA claim presents no
complex issue and does not predominate over the ADA claim,
and as such, this Court should exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over his UCRA claim. Id. at 8-11.
with respect to Defendants' passing reference to lack of
standing and federal subject matter jurisdiction, Defendants
make no arguments specifically on these points. Accordingly,
the Court denies the Rule 12(b)(1) motion to the extent it is
made on that ground.
the Court finds that the complaint need not meet the pleading
requirements set forth in § 425.50 because those
requirements are state procedural rules and are not
applicable to the complaint here. Although Johnson's UCRA
claim arises under state law, the allegations are subject to
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Kearns v. Ford
Motor Co., 567 F.3d 1120, 1125 (9th Cir. 2009)
(“[T]he Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply in
federal court, ‘irrespective of the source of the
subject matter jurisdiction, and irrespective of whether the
substantive law at issue is state or federal.' ”)
(citation omitted); see also Cullen v. Netflix,
Inc., 880 F.Supp.2d 1017, 1022 (N.D. Cal. 2012)
(applying federal rules of civil procedure in evaluating a
motion to dismiss a disability discrimination complaint);
Oliver v. In-N-Out Burgers, 286 F.R.D. 475, 477
(S.D. Cal. 2012) (noting that the provisions of Cal. Code
Civ. Proc. § 425.50 conflict with Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8(a)(2) and applying the Federal Rules). Defendants
argue that UCRA's pleading requirement is not procedural
and Johnson's federal court filing only serves to
circumvent that requirement. Reply 1, ECF 18. Notably,
despite having acknowledged that “state pleading
standards do not apply in federal court, ” Mot. 7,
Defendants seek to have this Court treat § 425.50 as
substantive state law in evaluating the UCRA claim. However,
Defendants provide no Ninth Circuit authority in support of
their argument that California's procedural rule is
substantive and point to no federal court in this District
that has treated § 425.50 as substantive state law.
Although Defendants cite several unpublished orders of
dismissal in the Southern District of California that
allegedly applied § 425.50 as substantive state law,
Mot. 9-10, this Court declines to follow suit given the
weight of authority in this District and in the Ninth
the Court turns to Defendants' argument urging this Court
to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
UCRA claim. A federal court's exercise of supplemental
jurisdiction is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Section
1367(a) provides that “in any civil action of which the
district courts have original jurisdiction, the district
courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other
claims that are so related to claims in the action within
such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same
case or controversy under Article III of the United States
Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Under §
1367(c), however, a district court has the discretion to
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a state
law claim where one or more of the following circumstances
(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law,
(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or
claims over which the district court has ...