United States District Court, E.D. California
FREDERICK MITCHELL, an individual; KELLY MITCHELL, an individual; KRISTA MITCHELL, an individual; and ELK GROVE ANIMAL RESCUE, a sole proprietorship, Plaintiffs,
DAYLE A. IMPERATO, an individual and in her capacity as TRUSTEE for the D. IMPERATO TRUST dated 2/3/12; SCHAKANA, a California Corporation; JOHN and JANE DOES 1-10; and XYZ CORPORATIONS 1-10, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Frederick Mitchell, Kelly Mitchell, and Krista Mitchell
brought this lawsuit, alleging that defendant Dayle
Imperato discriminated against them on the basis of
race in renting out her property. Before the court is
defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (Docket No. 40.)
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the inquiry before the court is
whether, accepting the allegations in the complaint as true
and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's
favor, the plaintiff has stated a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “The plausibility standard is not
akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks
for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. A complaint that offers mere “labels and
conclusions” will not survive a motion to dismiss.
Id. (citations and quotations omitted). However,
“[i]n civil rights cases where the plaintiff[s]
appear pro se, the court must construe the pleadings
liberally and must afford plaintiff[s] the benefit of any
doubt.” Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police
Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir.
U.S.C. § 2000a & 42 U.S.C. § 2000a-2
relevant part, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a provides that
“[a]ll persons shall be entitled to the full and equal
enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges,
advantages, and accommodations of any place of public
accommodation . . . without discrimination or segregation on
the ground of race, color, religion, or national
origin.” Relatedly, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a-2 prohibits
persons from depriving, interfering with, and punishing
individuals for exercising rights and privileges secured by
Section 2000a. Plaintiffs allege that defendant racially
discriminated against them in renting out and providing
access to the property in violation of Section 2000a. (See
FAC ¶ 78.) Plaintiffs also contend that defendant
violated Section 2000a-2 by harassing and intimidating them
as they have tried to gain access to the property.
(Id. ¶¶ 79-82.)
order to be entitled to relief under Section 2000a,
plaintiffs must allege with sufficient facts that
defendant's rental property “is a place of public
accommodation.” See Clegg v. Cult Awareness
Network, 18 F.3d 752, 756 (9th Cir. 1994). Section
2000(a) lists fifteen examples of places open to the public
at large, and none of those examples include the property at
issue in this case. Even though the complaint alleges that
defendant rents out part of her property, “this alone
falls far short of transforming [her residence] into a public
accommodation.” See Welsh v. Boy Scouts of
Am., 993 F.2d 1267, 1274 (7th Cir. 1993); see also
Johnson v. HI Point Apts, LLC, No. CV 16-3236 JLS (AJW),
2017 WL 5634609, at *6 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 29, 2017) (“The
apartment that plaintiff rents is not a place of public
accommodation.”). Moreover, the court is not aware of
any authority that holds that a place transforms into a
public accommodation because it is zoned a particular way.
While defendant may leave the gate to her property open or
host events on the premises (see FAC ¶ 77), the
complaint does not allege that the facilities have ever been
open to the public at large. See Clegg, F.3d at 755 n.3
(“Only when the facilities are open to the public at
large does Title II govern.”); see also Id. at
756 (merely holding events on a property does not transform
it into public accommodation).
because defendant's property is not a place of public
accommodation, the court must dismiss plaintiff's claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 2000a. Since plaintiffs do not have a
right or privilege under Section 2000a, this court will also
dismiss plaintiffs' cause of action under 42 U.S.C.
U.S.C. § 1981
1981 states that all persons “shall have the same right
. . . to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give
evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and
proceedings for the security of persons and property as is
enjoyed by white citizens.” 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a).
These rights “are protected against impairment by
nongovernmental discrimination and impairment under color of
State law.” Id. § 1981(c). While
plaintiffs do not need to plead a prima facie case of
discrimination to survive a motion to dismiss, they still
must allege sufficient facts under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8(a) that entitle them to relief. See Austin v.
Univ. of Oregon, __F.3d __, 2019 WL 2347380, at *3 (9th
Cir. June 4, 2019). Plaintiffs allege that defendant violated
Section 1981 when she refused to enter into a written rental
agreement with plaintiffs because they are black citizens.
(FAC ¶ 88.)
claim fails, however, because plaintiffs have not claimed
that defendant's alleged racial discrimination interfered
with their right to make and enforce contracts. To the
contrary, plaintiffs' complaint concedes that, on
November 26, 2018, defendant confirmed their occupancy and a
five-year lease term. (FAC ¶ 39.) Further, plaintiffs do
not contend that defendant's alleged racial
discrimination impaired any rights under a contractual
relationship. See Domino's Pizza, Inc. v.
McDonald, 546 U.S. 470, 476 (2006) (stating that parties
must “identify an impaired ‘contractual
relationship'”). Plaintiffs do not explain what
rights were specifically impaired and, even if some were, how
defendant's discriminatory conduct relates to any
impairment. Plaintiffs must, but have failed to, connect
defendant's alleged racial animus to the parties'
contractual relationship. See id.
the court must dismiss plaintiffs' claim ...