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Schutza v. Alcott Estates

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 10, 2019

SCOTT SCHUTZA, Plaintiff,
v.
ALCOTT ESTATES, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC. 19]

          HON. THOMAS J. WHELAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss. [Doc. 19.] The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Scott Schutza alleges the following facts in the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). (FAC [Doc. 11].)

         Schutza is a paraplegic who cannot walk and who uses a wheelchair for mobility. (FAC [Doc. 11] ¶ 1.) In September 2018, Schutza visited Defendants' real property located at or about 9643 Mission Gorge Rd., Santee, California.[1] (Id. [Doc. 11] ¶¶ 2-5.) The property in question is a Vons grocery store, a place of public accommodation. (See Id. [Doc. 11] ¶11.) During Schutza's visit to Vons, he allegedly encountered “parking stalls and access aisles marked and reserved for persons with disabilities [that] were not level with each other.” (Id. [Doc. 11] ¶ 13.) According to the FAC, “[t]he parking stalls and access aisles had cross slopes and running slopes greater than 2.1%.”[2] (Id.) Due to these barriers, Schutza was denied full and equal access to the facility. (Id. [Doc. 11] ¶ 15.)

         Schutza filed suit on September 21, 2018 alleging a single violation of both the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 43 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civil Code § 51.[3] (Compl. [Doc 1].) Schutza seeks injunctive relief for his ADA claim, actual and statutory damages for his Unruh Act claim, and attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12205 and Cal. Civ. Code § 52. (Id. [Doc. 11] 7-8.)

         Defendants now move to dismiss. (Defs.' Mot. [Doc. 19].) Plaintiff opposes. (Pl.'s Opp'n [Doc. 20].) For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

         II. Legal Standard

         The Court must dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. See Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law either for lack of a cognizable legal theory or for insufficient facts under a cognizable theory. Balisteri v. Pacifica Police Dep't., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In ruling on the motion, a court must “accept all material allegations of fact as true and construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Vasquez v. L.A. Cnty., 487 F.3d 1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007).

         Complaints must contain “a short plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court has interpreted this rule to mean that “[f]actual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007). The allegations in the complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         Well-pled allegations in the complaint are assumed true, but a court is not required to accept legal conclusions couched as facts, unwarranted deductions, or unreasonable inferences. Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

         III. Discussion

         A. Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's ADA Cause of Action

         Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities ...


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