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Thurston v. Chino Commercial Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 27, 2017

CHERYL THURSTON
v.
CHINO COMMERCIAL BANK, N.A.

          Present: The Honorable BEVERLY REID O'CONNELL, United States District Judge

          CIVIL MINUTES -- GENERAL

         Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) ORDER RE MOTION TO REMAND [18]

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Cheryl Thurston's (“Thurston” or “Plaintiff”) Motion to Remand the Case to San Bernardino Superior Court. (Dkt. No. 18 (hereinafter, “Motion” or “Mot.”).) After considering the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the instant Motion, the Court deems this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument of counsel. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Remand.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff Cheryl Thurston is a permanently blind individual who resides in San Bernardino County, California. (Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A (hereinafter, “Complaint” or “Compl.”) ¶¶ 1, 4.) Defendant Chino Commercial Bank, N.A. (“Chino” or “Defendant”) is a national association with its principal place of business in Chino, California. (Compl. ¶ 5; Dkt. No. 16 (hereinafter, “Answer”) ¶ 5.) Chino owns and operates bank branch locations in California. (Compl. ¶ 5; Answer ¶ 5.) Defendant offers the commercial website, www.chinocommercialbank.com (“Website”). (Compl. ¶¶ 5, 11; Answer ¶¶ 5, 11.) The Website provides information about Chino's automated teller machine and branch locations, and products/services. (Compl. ¶¶ 5, 11; Answer ¶ 11.)

         Thurston requires screen-reading software to read website content and access the internet. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Thurston alleges that the Website contains access barriers that deprive Thurston of the full use and enjoyment of the facilities and services the Website offers. (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 12.) More specifically, Thurston avers that the Website's access barriers include: (1) “missing [a]lternative [t]ext” which allegedly “prevents screen readers from accurately vocalizing a description of the graphics”; (2) “[e]mpty links that contain no text causing the function or purpose of the link to not be presented to the user, ” which “can introduce confusion for keyboard and screen reader users”; (3) “[r]edundant [l]inks where adjacent links go to the same URL address which results in additional navigation and repetition for keyboard and screen reader users”; and, (4) “[m]issing form labels which presents a problem because if a form control does not have a properly associated text label, the function or purpose of that form control may not be presented to screen reader users.”

         Thurston brings the instant Action pursuant to the Unruh Civil Rights Act (hereinafter, “Unruh Act”), Cal. Civ. Code § 51. (Compl. ¶¶ 17-25.) Thurston alleges that (1) Chino's actions constitute intentional discrimination against Thurston on the basis of a disability in violation of the Unruh Act, (Compl. ¶ 20), and, (2) Chino's conduct violates the American's with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., which constitutes a violation of the Unruh Act pursuant to section 51(f), (Compl. ¶ 21).

         B. Procedural Background

         Based upon the foregoing circumstances, Plaintiff filed the instant Action in the Superior Court of the State of California in San Bernardino County (“Superior Court”) on May 5, 2017. (See Compl.) On May 31, 2017, Defendant removed the Action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. (Dkt. No. 1 (hereinafter, “Removal”) at 2.) Defendant answered the Complaint on June 16, 2017. (Answer.) On June 29, 2017, Plaintiff moved to remand the Action to the Superior Court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Mot.) Plaintiff attached a Request for Judicial Notice to her Motion. (See Dkt. No. 18-1 (“RJN”).) Defendant opposed the Motion and RJN on July 10, 2017. (Dkt. No. 19 (hereinafter, “Opposition” or “Opp'n”).) On July 17, 2017, Plaintiff replied to the Opposition. (Dkt. No. 23 (hereinafter, “Reply”).) On July 18, 2017, Defendant objected and moved to strike new arguments and evidence in Plaintiff's Reply. (Dkt. No. 24 (“Objection”).) Lastly, Plaintiff responded to Defendant's Objection on July 25, 2017. (Dkt. No. 25 (“Response”).)[1]

         III. JUDICIAL NOTICE

         Plaintiff seeks judicial notice of Judge Kronstadt's February 23, 2017 opinion in Cheryl Thurston v. Toys R Us, Inc., No. 5:16-CV-02672-JAK-AGR, (CD. Cal. February 23, 2017). (See RJN; Dkt. No. 18-2, Ex. A.) Defendant objects to Plaintiffs RJN, arguing that, “[c]ourts may not take judicial notice of legal determinations made by other courts. Such determinations are not ‘adjudicative facts' under Rule 201 . . . .” (Opp'n at 24 (citing Taylor v. Charter Med. Corp., 162 F.3d 827 (5th Cir. 1998)).)

         A court may properly take judicial notice of: (1) material which is included as part of the complaint or relied upon by the complaint; and (2) matters in the public record. See Marder v. Lopez, 450 F.3d 445, 448 (9th Cir. 2006); Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001); see also Yumul v. Smart Balance, Inc., 733 F.Supp.2d 1134, 1137 (CD. Cal. 2010) (holding that a court may “consider documents that are incorporated by reference but not physically attached to the complaint if they are central to the plaintiffs claim and no party questions their authenticity”). A court “must take judicial notice if a party requests it and the court is supplied with the necessary information.” See Fed. R. Evid. 201(c)(2); In re Icenhower, 755 F.3d 1130, 1142 (9th Cir. 2014). The court “may take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue.” U.S. ex rel. Robinson Rancheria Citizens Council v. Borneo, Inc., 971 F.2d 244, 248 (9th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). Plaintiff fails to explain how, if at all, the February 23, 2017 order and proceedings before Judge Kronstadt relate to the matters at issue here. (See RJN.) Accordingly, the Court DENIES Plaintiff s RJN.

         IV. ...


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