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Whitaker v. Ohanessian

United States District Court, N.D. California

January 8, 2020

KRIKOR ARAM OHANESSIAN, et al., Defendants.



         This matter comes before the Court upon consideration of the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Krikor Aram Ohanessian, Jennifer Anne Monahan Ohanessian, and C&F Restaurant (collectively referred to as “Defendants”). Having carefully considered the parties' papers, relevant legal authority, and the record in the case, and having had the benefit of oral argument, the Court hereby GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendants' motion for the reasons set forth below.


         Plaintiff Brian Whitaker (“Plaintiff”) alleges that in September 2019, he went to the restaurant China Fun Express located at 211 Kearny Street in San Francisco, California, which is owned by Defendants. (Dkt. No. 1, ¶¶ 2-7, 12.) Plaintiff further alleges that he suffers from a C-4 spinal cord injury, is a quadriplegic, and uses a wheelchair for mobility. (Id., ¶ 1.) He states that on the date of his visit, Defendants “failed to provide accessible dining surfaces.” (Id., ¶ 14.) Plaintiff does not allege facts to explain how the dining surfaces were inaccessible. Plaintiff brings a claim for injunctive relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and a claim for damages under the California Unruh Act, California Civil Code Section 51, et seq.


         A. Applicable Legal Standard on Motion to Dismiss.

         A motion to dismiss is proper under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) where the pleadings fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court construes the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and takes as true all material allegations in the complaint. Sanders v. Kennedy, 794 F.2d 478, 481 (9th Cir. 1986). Even under the liberal pleading standard of Rule 8(a)(2), “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). Rather, a plaintiff must instead allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.

         “The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. . . . When a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (internal quotation marks omitted). If the allegations are insufficient to state a claim, a court should grant leave to amend, unless amendment would be futile. See, e.g. Reddy v. Litton Indus., Inc., 912 F.2d 291, 296 (9th Cir. 1990); Cook, Perkiss & Lieche, Inc. v. N. Cal. Collection Serv., Inc., 911 F.2d 242, 246-47 (9th Cir. 1990).

         B. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

         Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims on the ground that Plaintiff fails to allege facts sufficient to state a claim under the ADA or the Unruh Act. Namely, Plaintiff alleges the legal conclusion that Defendants failed to provide accessible dining surfaces but fails to allege any facts which, if true, would demonstrate this legal conclusion. The Court agrees. Plaintiff fails to allege where the purported barrier is located, in what manner the surface is inaccessible, and how Plaintiff was denied full and complete access to the restaurant's services. Cf. Whitaker v. Reeder, 2019 WL 6331386 (C.D. Cal. July 12, 2019) (finding allegation that defendant failed to provide accessible dining tables was insufficient to establish standing because he did not “allege[] what the barrier was (i.e., what was wrong with the table) and how Plaintiff's disability was affected by the barrier (i.e., how Plaintiff personally suffered).”). Therefore, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to dismiss with leave to amend.

         C. Defendants' Alternative Motion to Decline Supplemental Jurisdiction over Unruh Act Claim.

         Alternatively, Defendants move the Court to decline supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 over Plaintiff's state-law claim under the Unruh Act. Although the Court is granting Defendants' motion to dismiss, the Court will address this alternative argument to provide guidance if Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint.

         28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) provides that:

in any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or ...

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