Mahon v. Morton Golf, LLC

Filing 24

ORDER signed by District Judge Troy L. Nunley on 4/5/17 ORDERING that Plaintiff has not shown that he is likely to be irreparably harmed in the absence of a preliminary injunction, nor has he shown that an injunction would be in the public interest. Accordingly, his motion for a preliminary injunction 13 is hereby DENIED. (Becknal, R)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 FRANCIS MAHON, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 No. 2:14-cv-02972-TLN-EFB v. ORDER MORTON GOLF, LLC, 15 Defendant. 16 This is a lawsuit alleging discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities 17 18 Act, (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., and its state-law counterpart, the Unruh Civil Rights 19 Act (“Unruh Act”), CAL. CIV. CODE § 51. The matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Francis 20 Mahon’s (“Plaintiff”) Motion for Preliminary Injunction. (ECF No. 13.) Defendant Morton Golf, 21 LLC (“Defendant”) opposes the motion. (ECF No. 14.) The Court has carefully considered the 22 parties’ arguments. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff’s motion is hereby DENIED. I. 23 BACKGROUND Plaintiff is a recreational golfer in his late eighties.1 He suffers from idiopathic pulmonary 24 25 fibrosis, a medical condition that affects his respiratory and cardiovascular systems. As a result 26 of his condition, Plaintiff cannot walk long distances: he must use an oxygen tank and a power- 27 driven mobility device (a scooter). In spite of his condition, Plaintiff is an avid golfer. 28 1 The following facts are taken from Plaintiff’s motion unless otherwise indicated. 1 1 Defendant operates several golf courses in the Sacramento area. In October of 2013, 2 Plaintiff played golf on one of Defendant’s courses. Plaintiff was using his scooter in lieu of a 3 golf cart, but his scooter had not been fully charged and it ran out of battery on the course. 4 Subsequently, Defendant prohibited Plaintiff from using his scooter as a substitute for a golf cart. 5 Defendant offered Plaintiff the free use of Defendant’s golf carts as a courtesy and an 6 accommodation, but withdrew the offer sometime in the spring of 2014. 7 Plaintiff brought this lawsuit in November of 2014. (See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1 8 at 2:2–4.) He alleges that Defendant’s refusal to accommodate his scooter violates the ADA and 9 the Unruh Act. Roughly twenty months after filing this lawsuit, Plaintiff brought the instant 10 motion for a preliminary injunction. He seeks a court order forcing Defendant to allow Plaintiff 11 to his use scooter in lieu of a golf cart while this case is pending. 12 II. LEGAL STANDARD A preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a 13 14 clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 15 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). “A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is 16 likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of 17 preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the 18 public interest.” Id. at 20. 19 III. DISCUSSION 20 Plaintiff’s motion has two fatal defects. First, it does not show that Plaintiff is likely to 21 suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction. Second, it does not address 22 whether a preliminary injunction is in the public interest. Because Plaintiff has not made “a 23 showing on all four prongs” of Winter, a preliminary injunction is not justified here. All. for the 24 Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1135 (9th Cir. 2011). The Court need not assess the 25 merits or balance the equities. 26 A. Likelihood of Irreparable Harm 27 Plaintiff must show that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction 28 does not issue. He cannot make that showing for two reasons. 2 First, Plaintiff’s complained-of injury is purely economic, and “economic injury alone 1 2 does not support a finding of irreparable harm, because such injury can be remedied by a damage 3 award.” Rent-A-Center, Inc. v. Canyon Television & Appliance Rental, Inc., 944 F.2d 597, 603 4 (9th Cir. 1991). Here, Plaintiff is able to operate a golf cart and enjoy the game of golf without 5 using his scooter. (Bettencourt Decl. Ex. 1 (“Mahon Dep.”), ECF No. 17-1 at 75:4–12.)2 6 Plaintiff understandably prefers his scooter to a golf cart because the scooter is free. (Mahon 7 Dep., ECF No. 17-1 at 75:10–12.) However, assuming Plaintiff prevails in this lawsuit, he will 8 be entitled to damages under the Unruh Act, Molski v. M.J. Cable, Inc., 481 F.3d 724, 731 (9th 9 Cir. 2007), and the amount he spends on golf cart rentals will be readily ascertainable. Plaintiff 10 contends that his injury is not purely economic because he is harmed by his loss of “personal 11 satisfaction and joy.” (Reply, ECF No. 18 at 8:11–9:2.) But nothing suggests that Plaintiff 12 enjoys golf with a golf cart any less than he enjoys golf with his scooter—he simply dislikes 13 paying for the golf cart. If he eventually prevails, damages can make him whole again. Second, the tardiness of Plaintiff’s motion undermines his claim of irreparable injury. A 14 15 “long delay before seeking a preliminary injunction implies a lack of urgency and irreparable 16 harm.” Oakland Tribune, Inc. v. Chronicle Pub. Co., Inc., 762 F.2d 1374, 1377 (9th Cir. 1985). 17 Plaintiff waited nearly twenty months after filing his complaint before seeking a preliminary 18 injunction. Although delay, standing alone, is not a dispositive factor, Arc of Cal. v. Douglas, 19 757 F.3d 975, 990 (9th Cir. 2014), the lengthy delay here weighs against a preliminary injunction. 20 B. Public Interest 21 Plaintiff must also show that a preliminary injunction is in the public interest. Winter, 555 22 U.S. at 20. He has not shown that it is. Plaintiff addresses the public interest only in his reply, 23 but the Court “generally refuses to consider new arguments raised for the first time in a reply 24 brief.” Grange Ins. Ass’n v. Sran, 184 F. Supp. 3d 799, 819 (E.D. Cal. 2016). 25 2 26 27 28 Both parties have submitted Plaintiff’s deposition, and each has objected to the other’s submission. In essence, each has objected to its own proffer simply because the other side has offered the same evidence. The mind reels. “[I]t does not behoove anyone to make objections simply for the sake of making objections.” Burch v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 433 F. Supp. 2d 1110, 1120 n.10 (E.D. Cal. 2006). In any event, the Court need not resolve their cross-objections to the same evidence because “the rules of evidence do not apply strictly to preliminary injunction proceedings.” Herb Reed Enters., LLC v. Fla. Entm’t Mgmt., Inc., 736 F.3d 1239, 1250 n.5 (9th Cir. 2013). 3 1 IV. CONCLUSION 2 Plaintiff has not shown that he is likely to be irreparably harmed in the absence of a 3 preliminary injunction, nor has he shown that an injunction would be in the public interest. 4 Accordingly, his motion for a preliminary injunction (ECF No. 13) is hereby DENIED. 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: April 5, 2017 7 8 9 Troy L. Nunley United States District Judge 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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