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Castillo-Antonio v. Hernandez

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 28, 2019

RAFAEL HERNANDEZ, et al., Defendants.




         Plaintiff Jose Daniel Castillo-Antonio brings this action against Defendants Rafael Hernandez, Carmen Hernandez, and several Doe defendants not yet identified. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to provide barrier-free access for disabled persons to their business in violation of federal and California law. Defendants Rafael and Carmen Hernandez move to dismiss Castillo-Antonio's state-law claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), arguing that the Court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). The Court finds the matter suitable for resolution without oral argument and VACATES the hearing previously set for July 12, 2019. For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion is DENIED.[1]

         A case management conference will occur on July 12, 2019 at 2:00 PM, for which the parties may request to appear telephonically if they so choose. The parties shall file a joint case management statement no later than July 10, 2019.


         A. Factual Allegations

         Castillo-Antonio is severely limited in the use of his legs and qualifies as a “physically handicapped person, ” a “physically disabled person, ” and a “person with a disability” as those terms are used under applicable California and federal law, including the Unruh Civil Rights Act (“Unruh Act”), the California Disabled Persons Act (“CDPA”), and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”). Compl. (dkt. 1) ¶ 6. Defendants own and operate the Hernandez Meat Market in Oakland, California. Id. ¶ 3.

         On or about June 30, 2018, September 28, 2018, and December 29, 2018, Plaintiff visited Hernandez Meat Market to buy food and beverages. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff alleges that he encountered several architectural barriers that interfered with his access to Hernandez Meat Market in violation of both California and federal law. Id. ¶¶ 3, 4. First, the primary entrance door allegedly lacked the proper posted International Symbol of Accessibility in violation of California Code of Regulations Title 24 (the California Building Code, or “CBC”) section 11B-216.6 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibilities Guidelines of the United States Access Board (“ADAAG”) section 4.30.7. Id. ¶ 3. Second, the aisles inside the business were purportedly too narrow in violation of CBC section 11B-904.4. and ADAAG section 7.2. Id. ¶¶ 3, 4. Third, Plaintiff asserts that the service countertop for sales was not accessible for wheelchair occupants in violation of CBC section 11-904.4.1 and ADAAG section 7.2 ¶ 4. Finally, Plaintiff alleges the designated parking spot was not properly laid out in violation of CBC sections 11B-, 11B-705.1.2.5, 11B-502.2, 11B-502.3, and 11B-502.4 as well as ADAAG sections 4.6.3, 4.6.6, 4.1.2(1), 4.3.2(1), and 4.14.1. Id.

         During each visit, Plaintiff alleges that he informed Defendants of the architectural barriers. Compl. ¶ 12. Plaintiff asserts that by the third visit, Defendants had not removed the alleged barriers. Id. As a result, Plaintiff alleges to have been deterred from making a fourth visit on or about February 4, 2019. Id. Plaintiff maintains that he plans to visit the business in the future if the alleged violations are remedied. Id. ¶ 14. As a result of encountering these alleged violations, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered and continues to suffer emotional distress and violations of his civil rights to full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, and privileges. Id. ¶ 17.

         Plaintiff asserts four causes of action against Defendants: (1) violation of the ADA (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.); (2) breach of statutory protections for persons with physical disabilities (California Health and Safety Code § 19955); (3) violation of the CDPA (Cal. Civ. Code §§ 54, 54.1, and 54.3); and, (4) violation of the Unruh Act (Cal. Civ. Code §§ 51 and 51.5). Compl. ¶¶ 34, 35, 45, 56, 67. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, attorney's fees, declaratory relief, compensatory damages, and statutory damages under the Unruh Act, or, in the alternative, under the CDPA. Compl. at 21-23 (prayer for relief).

         B. Relevant Statutes

         1. The Americans with Disabilities Act

         Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination “on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.” 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). A grocery store like the one operated by Defendants is a “public accommodation” within the meaning of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(E).

         To prevail on an ADA claim, a plaintiff must show that: (1) they are 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 access to public accommodations by the defendant because of the plaintiff's disability. Molski v. M.J. Cable, Inc., 481 F.3d 724, 730 (9th Cir. 2007). A plaintiff may seek injunctive relief and attorney's fees under the ADA. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12188(a)(2), 12205. Damages are not available in private suits under the ADA. M.J. Cable, Inc., 481 F.3d at 730 (citing Wander v. Kaus, 304 F.3d 856, 858 (9th Cir. 2002)).

         2. The Unruh Civil Rights Act

         The Unruh Act states that “[a]ll persons within the jurisdiction of [California] are free and equal, and no matter what their . . . disability . . . are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.” Cal. Civ. Code § 51(b). A violation of the ADA is a per se violation of the Unruh Act. Cal. Civ. Code § 51(f). Claims can also be brought under the Unruh Act without relying on the ADA if the plaintiff demonstrates an intentional discriminatory act or omission by the defendant. Schutza v. Cuddeback, 262 F.Supp.3d 1025, 1029 (S.D. Cal. 2017) (citing Org. for the Advancement of Minorities v. Brick Oven Rest., 406 F.Supp.2d 1120, 1129 (S.D. Cal. 2005)). An Unruh Act claim premised on a violation of the ADA does not require a showing of intentional discrimination. Munson v. Del Taco, Inc., 46 Cal.4th 661, 664-66 (2009).

         Like the ADA, the Unruh Act allows plaintiffs to seek injunctive relief and attorney's fees. Cal. Civ. Code § 52(c)(3). The Unruh Act also allows plaintiffs to recover “up to a maximum of three times the amount of actual damage but in no case less than four thousand dollars.” Cal. Civ. Code § 52(a). A plaintiff “need not prove she suffered actual damages to recover the independent statutory damages of $4, 000.” Molski, 481 F.3d at 731 (citing Botosan v. Paul McNally Realty, 216 F.3d 827, 835 (9th Cir. 2000)).

         3. The California Disabled Persons Act

         The CDPA establishes that “[i]ndividuals with disabilities shall be entitled to full and equal access, as other members of the general public, to accommodations . . . and other places to which the general public is invited.” Cal. Civ. Code § 54.1(a)(1). A violation of the ADA is a per se violation of the CDPA. Cal Civ. Code § 54.1(e). Under the CDPA, a plaintiff is entitled to actual damages “up to a maximum of three times the amount of actual damages but in no case less than one thousand dollars” and “attorney's fees as may be determined by the court in addition thereto.” Cal. Civ. Code § 54.3(a).

         4. The California Health and Safety Code

         The California Health and Safety Code (“CHSC”) requires all public accommodations constructed in California to conform with the provisions of Chapter 7 (commencing with section 4450) of Division 5 of Title 1 of the Government Code. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 19956. Section 4450 of the Government Code directs the State Architect “to submit proposed building standards to the California Building Standards Commission for approval” and “develop other regulations for making buildings, structures, sidewalks, curbs, and related facilities accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.” Cal. Gov't Code § 4450. The State Architect promulgated such regulations, which are codified in ...

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