Melanie Delapaz v. Martin Lakin, et al
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE by Judge Stanley Blumenfeld, Jr.: The Court ORDERS Plaintiff within 14 days after entry of this Order to show cause in writing why the Court should not dismiss without prejudice her Unruh Act claim under Section 1367(c)(4). Plain tiff's response must identify the amount of statutory damages Plaintiff seeks to recover. If Plaintiff fails to file a response within 14 days after entry of this Order, the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her Unruh Act claim, and the Unruh Act claim will be automatically dismissed without prejudice without further order of the Court. See document for further details. (gk)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Case No. 2:23-cv-00229-SB-E
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
MARTIN LAKIN et al.,
Plaintiff Melanie Delapaz, who suffers from hemiplegia and requires the use
of a wheelchair at all times when traveling in public, filed this suit alleging that she
faced barriers to access parking spaces at Defendants’ clothing store, in violation
of, inter alia, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Unruh Act. Dkt.
Because Plaintiff’s Unruh Act claim is closely related to her ADA claim, the
Court has authority to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Unruh Act claim
under 28 U.S.C. § 367(a). However, supplemental jurisdiction “is a doctrine of
discretion, not of plaintiff’s right,” and district courts “can decline to exercise
jurisdiction over pendent claims for a number of valid reasons.” City of Chi. v.
Int’l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 172 (1997) (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). This discretion is codified in Section 1367(c):
The district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over a claim under subsection (a) if—
(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law,
(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or
claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction,
(3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has
original jurisdiction, or
(4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling
reasons for declining jurisdiction.
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).
In a published decision, the Ninth Circuit explained that the California
Legislature’s 2012 and 2015 amendments to the Unruh Act, which were intended
to protect businesses from abusive litigation by high-frequency litigants bringing
construction-related claims, had led to a surge of filings in federal courts of ADA
cases seeking statutory damages under the Unruh Act. Arroyo v. Rosas, 19 F.4th
1202 (9th Cir. 2021). The Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that this shift
in filings from state courts to federal courts had circumvented the state legislature’s
goals and “rendered [the new statutory requirements] largely toothless, because
they can now be readily evaded.” Id. at 1213. The court explained that “retention
of supplemental jurisdiction over ADA-based Unruh Act claims threatens to
substantially thwart California’s carefully crafted reforms in this area and to
deprive the state courts of their critical role in effectuating the policies underlying
those reforms.” Id. Thus, the court held that these circumstances are
“exceptional” within the meaning of Section 1367(c)(4) and therefore potentially
justified declining supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s Unruh Act claim.
See id. (“The district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that this
extraordinary situation threatens unusually significant damage to federal-state
comity and presents ‘exceptional circumstances’ within the meaning of
§ 1367(c)(4).”). However, because the district court had waited to decline
supplemental jurisdiction until after granting summary judgment on the plaintiff’s
ADA claim, thereby effectively deciding the Unruh Act claim, the Ninth Circuit
reversed the court’s decision to decline supplemental jurisdiction, holding that it
had waited too long to invoke the comity interest. Id. at 1215–17.
Unlike Arroyo, this case is still at a very early stage, and this Court has not
yet addressed or adjudicated the merits of any of Plaintiff’s claims. This appears to
be a case in which the Court should decline supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiff’s Unruh Act claim under Section 1367(c)(4) to protect the comity interests
identified in Arroyo. Accordingly, the Court ORDERS Plaintiff within 14 days
after entry of this Order to show cause in writing why the Court should not dismiss
without prejudice her Unruh Act claim under Section 1367(c)(4). Plaintiff’s
response must identify the amount of statutory damages Plaintiff seeks to recover
and must be supported by declarations, signed under penalty of perjury, providing
all facts necessary for the Court to determine if Plaintiff and her counsel satisfy the
definition of a “high-frequency litigant” as provided by Cal. Code Civ. Proc.
§ 425.55(b)(1)–(2). If Plaintiff fails to file a response within 14 days after entry of
this Order, the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her
Unruh Act claim, and the Unruh Act claim will be automatically dismissed without
prejudice without further order of the Court.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Stanley Blumenfeld, Jr.
United States District Judge
Date: January 19, 2023
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