United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the court on plaintiff Cynthia Hopson's
motion for default judgment against defendants Sukh Singh and
Perminder Singh. ECF No. 15. For the reasons stated below,
the motion should be granted.
filed this action against defendants Sukh Singh and Perminder
Singh, alleging defendants violated the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§
12101, et seq., the California Unruh Civil Rights
Act (“Unruh Act”), and the California Disabled
Persons Act (“CDPA”). Compl. (ECF No. 1). The
docket reflects that defendants were served with a copy of
the summons and complaint on March 8, 2017. ECF Nos. 4, 5.
Despite being properly served, defendants have not responded
to the complaint. Plaintiff requested entry of
defendants' default, which the clerk entered on October
26, 2017. ECF Nos. 7, 9. Plaintiff now moves for default
judgment on her ADA and Unruh Act claims. ECF No. 8. She
seeks $4, 000 in statutory damages under the Unruh Act, as
well as injunctive relief and attorneys' fees and costs.
to the complaint, plaintiff is disabled due to her medical
conditions, which include Systemic Lupus Erythematosus,
Spinal Stenosis, Osteoarthritis, and Osteoporosis.
Id. at 1 ¶ 1. She relies on the use of a
mobility scooter to complete daily activities. Id.
¶ 6. Defendants own and operate a gas station located at
420 West Kettleman Lane, Lodi, CA, 95240. Id. ¶
7. The gas station is a place of public accommodation.
Id. ¶ 21. In 2016, plaintiff went to the gas
station to shop and use its services. Id. ¶ 14.
During the visit, she discovered that the designated disabled
parking stall and its corresponding access aisle had a steep
and improper slope in violation of the ADA. Id.
¶ 16. See 2010 ADA Accessibility Guidelines,
§ 502.4 (requiring parking spaces and access aisles to
not have surface slopes exceeding 1:48 ratio, or 2.08
now moves for default judgment, seeking $4, 000 in statutory
damages under the Unruh Act, as well as injunctive relief and
attorney's fees and costs. ECF No. 15.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55, default may be entered
against a party against whom a judgment for affirmative
relief is sought who fails to plead or otherwise defend
against the action. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a).
However, “[a] defendant's default does not
automatically entitle the plaintiff to a court-ordered
judgment.” PepsiCo, Inc. v. Cal. Sec. Cans,
238 F.Supp.2d 1172, 1174 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (citing Draper
v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915, 924-25 (9th Cir. 1986)).
Instead, the decision to grant or deny an application for
default judgment lies within the district court's sound
discretion. Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092
(9th Cir. 1980). In making this determination, the court
considers the following factors:
(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
the material facts, (6) whether the default was due to
excusable neglect, and (7) the strong policy underlying the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring decisions on the
Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir.
1986). “In applying this discretionary standard,
default judgments are more often granted than denied.”
Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Castworld Products, Inc.,
219 F.R.D. 494, 498 (C.D. Cal. 2003) (quoting PepsiCo,
Inc. v. Triunfo-Mex, Inc., 189 F.R.D. 431, 432 (C.D.
general rule, once default is entered, the factual
allegations of the complaint are taken as true, except for
those allegations relating to damages. TeleVideo Systems,
Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917-18 (9th Cir. 1987)
(citations omitted). However, although well-pleaded
allegations in the complaint are admitted by defendant's
failure to respond, “necessary facts not contained in
the pleadings, and claims which are legally insufficient, are
not established by default.” Cripps v. Life Ins.
Co. of N. Am., 980 F.2d 1261, 1267 (9th Cir. 1992). A
party's default conclusively establishes that party's
liability, although it does not establish the amount of
damages. Geddes v. United Fin. Group, 559 F.2d 557,
560 (9th Cir. 1977) (stating that although a default
established liability, it did not establish the extent of the
Americans with Disabilities Act
III of the ADA provides that “[n]o individual shall be
discriminated against 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).
Discrimination includes “a failure to remove
architectural barriers . . . in existing facilities . . .
where such removal is readily achievable.” Id.
§ 12182(b)(2)(A)(iv). Under the ADA, the term readily
achievable means “easily accomplishable and able to be
carried out without much difficulty or expense.” 42
U.S.C. § 12181(9).
prevail on a Title III discrimination claim, the plaintiff
must show that (1) [she] is 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 public accommodations by the
defendant because of her disability.” Molski v.
M.J. Cable, Inc., 481 F.3d 724, 730 (9th Cir. 2007).
Further, “[t]o succeed on a ADA claim of discrimination
on account of one's disability due to an architectural
barrier, the plaintiff must also prove that: (1) the existing
facility at the defendant's place of business presents an