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Johnson v. 162 Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

July 3, 2019




         Plaintiff Scott Johnson asserts claims against defendant 162 Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, LLC (“162 Los Gatos”) and Does 1-10 for violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the Unruh Civil Rights Act (“Unruh Act”), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 51-53. Dkt. No. 1. 162 Los Gatos filed an administrative motion for relief from the schedule imposed by General Order 56, requesting that the Court examine its subject matter jurisdiction.[1] Dkt. No. 28. The Court requested additional briefing from the parties regarding the issues of standing and subject matter jurisdiction. Dkt. Nos. 29, 30, 31.

         The Court construes 162 Los Gatos's administrative motion as a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and finds the matter suitable for resolution without oral argument. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). Having considered the parties' moving papers, the Court grants 162 Los Gatos's motion to dismiss this action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Johnson is a level C-5 quadriplegic who relies on a wheelchair for mobility. Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 1. He also has significant manual dexterity impairments. Id. Mr. Johnson alleges that in May and June 2018, he visited the subject property located at 162 Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, Los Gatos, California. Id. ¶¶ 2-4, 9. At the time of those visits, Elgary Massage Therapy (“Elgary”) occupied the property. Id. ¶ 9. During these visits, Mr. Johnson observed that the property lacked a compliant, accessible parking space in violation of the ADA and the Unruh Act. Id. ¶¶ 9-14, 27-30. Mr. Johnson also says that during his June 2018 visit, Elgary denied him service when he attempted to bring his service animal inside. Id. ¶¶ 15-18, 31-32. Mr. Johnson contends that 162 Los Gatos owns the subject real property. Id. ¶¶ 2-4. He filed this action on July 23, 2018 against 162 Los Gatos, but not Elgary. See generally Dkt. No. 1.


         Federal courts can adjudicate only those cases which the Constitution and Congress authorize them to adjudicate: cases involving diversity of citizenship or a federal question, or those to which the United States is a party. Mims v. Arrow Fin. Servs., LLC, 565 U.S. 368, 376- 77 (2012); see also Chen-Cheng Wang ex rel. United States v. FMC Corp., 975 F.2d 1412, 1415 (9th Cir. 1992) (“Federal courts have no power to consider claims for which they lack subject-matter jurisdiction.”), overruled on other grounds by United States ex rel. Hartpence v. Kinetic Concepts, Inc., 792 F.3d 1121 (9th Cir. 2015). The Court has a continuing obligation to ensure that it has subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). Any party may raise the defense of lack of subject matter jurisdiction at any time. Henderson ex rel. Henderson v. Shinseki, 562 U.S. 428, 434-35 (2011). The plaintiff always bears the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).

         A jurisdictional challenge may be facial or factual. Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). Where the attack is facial, the Court determines whether the allegations contained in the complaint are sufficient on their face to invoke federal jurisdiction, accepting all material allegations in the complaint as true and construing them in favor of the party asserting jurisdiction. Id.; see also Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975). Where the attack is factual, however, “the court need not presume the truthfulness of the plaintiff's allegations.” Safe Air for Everyone, 373 F.3d at 1039. In resolving a factual dispute as to the existence of subject matter jurisdiction, the Court may review extrinsic evidence beyond the complaint without converting a motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. Id. Once the moving party has made a factual challenge by offering affidavits or other evidence to dispute the allegations in the complaint, the party opposing the motion must “present affidavits or any other evidence necessary to satisfy its burden of establishing that the court, in fact, possesses subject matter jurisdiction.” St. Clair v. City of Chico, 880 F.2d 199, 201 (9th Cir. 1989); see also Savage v. Glendale Union High Sch. Dist. No. 205, 343 F.3d 1036, 1040 n.2 (9th Cir. 2003).

         “Jurisdictional dismissals in cases premised on federal-question jurisdiction are exceptional, and must satisfy the requirements specified in Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 66 S.Ct. 773, 90 L.Ed. 939 (1946).” Sun Valley Gas., Inc. v. Ernst Enters., 711 F.2d 138, 140 (9th Cir. 1983). The Supreme Court has determined that jurisdictional dismissals are warranted “where the alleged claim under the Constitution or federal statues clearly appears to be immaterial and made solely for the purpose of obtaining federal jurisdiction or where such claim is wholly insubstantial and frivolous.” Bell, 327 U.S. at 682-83.


         A. ADA Claim

         1. Standing

         162 Los Gatos argues that this case should be dismissed because Mr. Johnson lacks standing to pursue his claims. Dkt. No. 28 at 2-3. Because 162 Los Gatos's motion may be disposed of on other grounds, the Court assumes without deciding for the purposes of this motion that Mr. Johnson has standing.

         2. ...

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