United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR
DEFAULT JUDGMENT RE: DKT. NO. 55
A WESTMORE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Scott Johnson filed the instant suit against Defendants
Express Auto Clinic, Inc., Abdulnasser Alsumairi, and Waled
Aydeh, asserting violations of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Unruh Civil Rights
Act. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) On April 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed
a motion for default judgment as to Defendants Express Auto
Clinic, Inc. and Aydeh (collectively,
“Defendants”). (Plf.'s Mot. for Default Judgment,
Dkt. No. 55.) The Court held a hearing on June 6, 2019, at
which Defendants failed to appear. (Dkt. No. 65.) On June 13,
2019, Plaintiff filed a supplemental brief regarding
attorney's fees. (Dkt. No. 66.)
considered the filings and the relevant legal authority, the
Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's
motion for default judgment.
is a C-5 quadriplegic who cannot walk and uses a wheelchair
for mobility. (Compl. ¶ 1; Johnson Decl. ¶ 2, Dkt.
No. 55-4.) Plaintiff has a disabled persons parking placard
issued by the State of California, and drives a specially
equipped and modified van that deploys a ramp so that he can
wheel in and out of his vehicle. (Compl. ¶ 1; Johnson
Decl. ¶ 3.) Because Plaintiff uses a ramp and needs to
transition from his van to the parking access aisle,
Plaintiff requires a properly configured van accessible
parking space with a level access aisle. (Johnson Decl.
2017, July 2017, October 2017, and December 2017, Plaintiff
visited the Valero Gas Station at 3810 Broadway, Oakland,
California to buy gas and snacks. (Compl. ¶ 16; Johnson
Decl. ¶ 5.) The real property is owned by Defendant
Express Auto Clinic, Inc., and Defendants Alsumairi and Ayedh
own the Valero gas station. (Compl. ¶¶ 2-11.)
there was a parking space reserved for persons with
disabilities, Plaintiff asserts that the parking space did
not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
Accessibility Guidelines (“ADAAG”) during his
visits. (Compl. ¶ 19; Johnson Decl. ¶ 6.)
Specifically, there was no “No Parking” warning
in the adjacent access aisle. (Compl. ¶ 20.)
Additionally, the access aisle was not painted blue. (Johnson
Decl. ¶ 6.) Each time Plaintiff visited, there were cars
parked in the access aisle or in the parking space that did
not have handicap placards. (Johnson Decl. ¶ 6.)
the gas station, the path of travel in and throughout the
merchandise aisles was not accessible because Defendants
would place merchandise and merchandise display on the route
of travel, narrowing the route of travel to less than 36
inches. (Compl. ¶ 27.) As a result, Plaintiff was unable
to fit his wheelchair down the merchandise aisles. (Compl.
¶ 33; Johnson Decl. ¶ 7.) Additionally, the
transaction counter was 38 inches high, with no portion
lowered to 36 inches. (Compl. ¶¶ 29-32.)
January 9, 2018, an investigator went to the Valero gas
station, and found that there was no “No Parking”
warning in the access aisle next to the handicapped parking
space. (Louis Decl. ¶¶ 2-3, Dkt. No. 55-5.) The
investigator also found that inside the Valero gas station,
the path of travel was as narrow as 31 inches, and that the
transaction counter was 38 inches high. (Louis Decl.
January 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed the operative complaint,
asserting violations of the ADA and Unruh Civil Rights Act.
(See Compl.) On February 11, 2018, Defendant Express
Auto Clinic, Inc. was served by substitute service.
Specifically, on January 25, 2018, the summons and complaint
were left by a registered process server with Defendant
Express Auto Clinic, Inc.'s agent of service by leaving
the papers with the manager. (Dkt. No. 9 at 1.) The summons
and complaint were then mailed on February 1,
2019. (Id. at 3.) On February 16, 2018,
Defendant Ayedh was served by substitute service after two
prior unsuccessful attempts. Specifically, on February 1,
2019, the summons and complaint were left by a registered
process server with a cashier at Defendant Ayedh's usual
place of business. (Dkt. No. 10 at 1.) The summons and
complaint were then mailed on February 6, 2018. Id.
Express Auto Clinic, Inc.'s answer was due on March 5,
2018, and Defendant Ayedh's answer was due on March 9,
2018. On March 7, 2018, Plaintiff moved for entry of default
as to Defendant Express Auto Clinic, Inc. (Dkt. No. 14.) On
March 9, 2018, the Clerk of the Court entered default against
Defendant Express Auto Clinic, Inc. (Dkt. No. 16.) On March
12, 2018, Plaintiff moved for entry of default as to
Defendant Ayedh. (Dkt. No. 17.) On March 16, 2018, the Clerk
of the Court entered default against Defendant Ayedh. (Dkt.
No. 18.) On October 3, 2018, counsel filed consents to
magistrate judge jurisdiction on behalf of Defendants Express
Auto Clinic, Inc. and Ayedh. (Dkt. No. 38
(“CONSENT/DECLINATION to Proceed Before a U.S.
Magistrate Judge by Abdulnasser Alsumairi, Waled Ayedh,
Express Auto Clinic, Inc.”).) Defendants Express Auto
Clinic, Inc. and Ayedh, however, never moved to set aside
entry of default.
April 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment
against Defendants, seeking $4, 000 in statutory damages and
$6, 708 in attorney's fees and costs. That same day,
Plaintiff mailed the motion to Defendants. (Dkt. No. 58 at
2.) Counsel for Defendants also received notice of the filing
through the Court's electronic filing system. As of the
date of this order, Defendants have not responded.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2) permits a court to enter a
final judgment in a case following a defendant's default.
Shanghai Automation Instrument Co. v. Kuei, 194
F.Supp.2d 995, 999 (N.D. Cal. 2001). Whether to enter a
judgment lies within the court's discretion. Id.
(citing Draper v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915, 924-25 (9th
assessing the merits of a default judgment, a court must
confirm that it has subject matter jurisdiction over the case
and personal jurisdiction over the parties, as well as ensure
the adequacy of service on the defendant. See In re
Tuli, 172 F.3d 707, 712 (9th Cir. 1999). If the court
finds these elements satisfied, it turns to the following
factors (“the Eitel factors”) to determine
whether it should grant a default judgment:
(1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff, (2) the
merits of plaintiff's substantive claim, (3) the
sufficiency of the complaint, (4) the sum of money at stake
in the action[, ] (5) the possibility of a dispute concerning
material facts[, ] (6) whether the default was due to
excusable neglect, and (7) the strong policy underlying the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring decision on the
Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir.
1986) (citation omitted). Upon entry of default, all factual
allegations within the complaint are accepted as true, except
those allegations relating to the amount of damages.
TeleVideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915,
917-18 (9th Cir. 1987). Where a default judgment is granted,
the scope of relief “must not differ in kind from, or
exceed in amount, what is demanded in the pleadings.”
Fed. R. Civ. 54(c).
considering whether to enter default judgment, a district
court must first determine whether it has jurisdiction over
the subject matter and the parties to the case. In re
Tuli, 172 F.3d at 712 (“When entry of judgment is
sought against a party who has failed to plead or otherwise
defend, a district court has an affirmative duty to look into
its jurisdiction over both the subject matter and the
parties”). In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges a
violation of a federal statute, the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §
12101 et seq. The Court thus has subject matter
jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant Express Auto
Clinic, Inc. as it is a California corporation. (See
Compl. at 1; Mot. for Default Judgment, Exh. 5 at 3, Dkt. No.
55-7.) The Court also has personal jurisdiction over
Defendant Ayedh, who resides in Daly City, California, and
owns and operates a California business located in Oakland,
California. (Mot. for Default Judgment, Exh. 5 at 14; Compl.
¶¶ 7-11; Dkt. No. 10.) Venue is also proper because
the real property where the violation occurred is located in
this district. (Compl. ¶¶ 2, 16.)
service of process was proper. The case was filed on January
21, 2018, and Defendants Express Auto Clinic and Ayedh were
served by substitute service. (Dkt. Nos. 9-10.) The proof of
service of the complaint and summons were filed on February
13 and February 18, 2018. (Id.) Defendant Express
Auto Clinic's default was entered on March ...