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Strojnik v. Resort at Indian Springs, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 19, 2019



          SUSAN VAN KEULEN United States Magistrate Judge

         In this case, Plaintiff Peter Strojnik, representing himself pro se, alleges that Defendant Resort at Indian Springs, LLC, which owns, operates, or leases a hotel in Calistoga, California (the “Hotel”), violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the California Unruh Civil Rights Act (“Unruh Act”), and the California Disabled Persons Act (“DPA”) and is liable for negligence. According to Plaintiff, first-party and third-party booking websites did not describe the Hotel's accessibility features in sufficient detail to permit Plaintiff to assess whether the Hotel meets his accessibility needs; he was unable to reserve accessible guest rooms in the same manner as individuals who do not need accessible rooms; and the Hotel has architectural barriers to accessibility. Dkt. 1 (Complaint) ¶¶ 16-22. Defendant now seeks to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (lack of subject matter jurisdiction) and 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim). Dkt. 5. In support of its motion to dismiss, Defendant also filed a request for judicial notice. Dkt. 5-2. Following filing of Defendant's motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment. Dkt. 13. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge. Dkt. 6, 11.

         Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court deems the pending motions suitable for determination without oral argument. After considering the parties' submissions, the case file, and relevant law, and for the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion to dismiss is (1) GRANTED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND with respect to Plaintiff's ADA, Unruh Act, and DPA claims; and (2) GRANTED with respect to Plaintiff's negligence claim, without prejudice to Plaintiff's refiling that claim in state court or in an amended complaint in this case. Defendant's request for judicial notice is DENIED. Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Peter Strojnik, a resident of Arizona, alleges that he has “a severe right-sided neural foraminal stenosis with symptoms of femoral neuropathy, prostate cancer and renal cancer, [and a] degenerative right knee” that “substantially limit his major life activities.” Dkt. 1 ¶¶ 3-4. According to Plaintiff, he “walks with difficulty and pain and requires compliant mobility accessible features at places of public accommodation.” Id. ¶ 4.

         Plaintiff claims that he sought information about Defendant's Hotel in connection with a planned trip to the California Wine Country. Id. ¶ 15. According to Plaintiff, he became aware that first-party and third-party booking websites “failed to identify and describe mobility related accessibility features and guest rooms offered through its reservations service in enough detail to reasonably permit Plaintiff to assess independently whether Defendant's Hotel meets his accessibility needs” and “failed to make reservations for accessible guest rooms available in the same manner as individuals who do not need accessible rooms.” Id. ¶¶ 17-20. Plaintiff further alleges that online information about the Hotel disclosed architectural barriers to accessibility. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff contends that as a result of these conditions, he “is deterred from visiting the Hotel” but “intends to visit Defendant's Hotel at a specific time when the Defendant's noncompliant Hotel because fully compliant” with the ADA. Id. ¶¶ 11-12. Plaintiff's complaint is accompanied by an addendum containing screen shots from booking websites and photographs of the Hotel. Dkt. 1-1.

         On August 9, 2019, Plaintiff filed this action, asserting causes of action for: (1) violation of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.; (2) violation of the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code §§ 51 et seq.; (3) the California Disabled Person Act, California Civil Code §§ 54-54.3; and (4) negligence. Dkt. 1. Defendant seeks to dismiss the complaint (Dkt. 5), and Plaintiff seeks summary judgment in his favor (Dkt. 13).



         1. Rule 12(b)(1)

         Rule 12(b)(1) allows the Court to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. A challenge to a plaintiff's Article III standing is properly challenged by a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss. Chandler v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 598 F.3d 1115, 1122 (9th Cir. 2010).

         Rule 12(b)(1) motions can challenge subject matter jurisdiction in two different ways: (1) a facial attack based solely on the allegations of the complaint, or (2) a factual attack based on extrinsic evidence apart from the pleadings. See Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). If a defendant initiates a factual attack by submitting a declaration with extrinsic evidence of the plaintiff's lack of standing, the plaintiff must then “present affidavits or any other evidence necessary to satisfy its burden of establishing that the court, in fact, possesses subject matter jurisdiction.” Colwell v. Dep't of Health and Human Svcs., 558 F.3d 1112, 1121 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).

         2. Rule 12(b)(6)

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a district court must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court may consider only “the complaint, materials incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which the court may take judicial notice.” Metzler Inv. GmbH v. Corinthian Colls., Inc., 540 F.3d 1049, 1061 (9th Cir. 2008). In deciding whether the plaintiff has stated a claim, the court must assume the plaintiff's allegations are true and draw all inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Usher v. City of L.A., 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987). However, the court is not required to accept as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted).

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This “facial plausibility” standard requires the plaintiff to allege facts that add up to “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Leave to amend must be granted unless it is clear that the complaint's deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. Lucas v. Dept' of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995).


         In support of its motion to dismiss, Defendant has filed a request that the Court take judicial notice of the following (Dkt. 5-2):

Exhibit A: A printout from Google Maps showing the distance measurement and directions from Plaintiff's address in Phoenix, Arizona to Defendant's Hotel in Calistoga, California.
Exhibit B: PACER search results reflecting 25 unique pro se cases filed by Plaintiff since October 28.
Exhibit C: An Arizona State Bar complaint against Plaintiff.
Exhibit D: The Arizona State Bar's Judgment of Disbarment of Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff objects to the requests for judicial notice, primarily on relevance grounds. Dkt. 12.

         Exhibits A, B, C, and D are not relevant to the Court's consideration of the motion to dismiss, and the Court therefore DENIES Defendant's request for judicial notice of those documents, without prejudice to renewal of the request ...

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