Johnson v. Saleh et al.

Filing 28

ORDER signed by District Judge John A. Mendez on 7/31/17 ORDERING the Plaintiff's 24 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED in full and awards Plaintiff $8,000 in statutory damages. CASE CLOSED (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 SCOTT JOHNSON, 12 2:16-cv-00617-JAM-KJN Plaintiff, 13 14 No. v. ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT SAIF ALI AHMED SALEH, ET AL, 15 Defendants. 16 Plaintiff Scott Johnson (“Plaintiff”) sued Defendants Saif 17 18 Ali Ahmed Saleh and Michael’s Market, Inc. (collectively 19 “Defendants”) alleging Defendants did not comply with the 20 Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and California’s Unruh 21 Civil Rights Act (“Unruh Act”). 22 Plaintiff now moves for summary judgment. 23 (“Mot.”), ECF No. 24. 24 grounds that Plaintiff’s damages claim raises an issue of 25 material fact. Compl. at 9-15, ECF No. 1. Mot. for Summ. J. Defendants oppose summary judgment on the Opp’n at 2-3, ECF No. 25. 1 26 27 28 1 This motion was determined to be suitable for decision without oral argument. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). The hearing was scheduled for July 25, 2017. 1 1 I. 2 FACTS Plaintiff is a quadriplegic who uses a wheelchair and drives 3 a specially equipped van. 4 In April 2014, Plaintiff visited Michael’s Market and found that 5 the business did not have appropriate parking for people with 6 disabilities and had various other barriers to accessibility. 7 Id. ¶¶ 4-18. 8 and encountered the barriers again. 9 Johnson Decl. ¶¶ 2, 3, ECF No. 24-4. Plaintiff returned to the market three more times Id. ¶¶ 13, 20, 23. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief for his ADA claim and 10 statutory damages for his Unruh Act claim. 11 Plaintiff seeks $8,000 in statutory damages: $4,000 for his first 12 visit and $4,000 “for his multiple visits thereafter.” 13 15. Mot. at 14-15. Id. at 14 15 16 II. DISCUSSION A plaintiff is entitled to injunctive relief for ADA 17 violations, 42 U.S.C. § 12188(a), and statutory damages for Unruh 18 Act violations. 19 provides that “a violation of the right of any individual under 20 the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 shall also constitute 21 a violation of this section.” 22 Cal. Civ. Code § 55.56(a). The Unruh Act Cal. Civ. Code § 51(f). Defendants concede that Michael’s Market “was not fully ADA 23 compliant when [Plaintiff] allegedly first visited the property.” 24 Opp. at 1. 25 to injunctive relief for his ADA claim. 26 grants Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on his ADA claim 27 and grants the injunctive relief he seeks. 28 Defendants do not contest that Plaintiff is entitled The Court therefore As to Plaintiff’s request for statutory damages under the 2 1 Unruh Act, Defendants argue a triable issue exists as to whether 2 Plaintiff’s “multiple visits were ‘reasonable’ in light of 3 Plaintiff’s duty to mitigate his damages.” 4 Defendants contend the Court should deny summary judgment or 5 limit damages to $4,000. 6 Opp. at 2. Id. at 3. To support their position, Defendants rely on California 7 Civil Code § 55.56(h) and Johnson v. Wayside Prop., Inc., 41 F. 8 Supp. 3d 973 (E.D. Cal. 2014). 9 to a previous version of Section 55.56(h), and Wayside was Id. at 2-3. But Defendants cite 10 decided before the statute was changed in May 2016. 11 55.56(h) currently states, “[t]his section does not alter the 12 applicable law for the awarding of injunctive or other equitable 13 relief for a violation or violations of one or more construction- 14 related accessibility standards, nor alter any legal obligation 15 of a party to mitigate damages.” 16 Section Cal. Civ. Code § 55.56(h). Another court in this district has stated that the current 17 Section 55.56(h) “does not create a duty to mitigate, but merely 18 states that where one exists, the section does not alter said 19 duty.” Johnson v. Guedoir, 218 F. Supp. 3d 1096, 1102 (E.D. Cal. 20 2016). The Guedoir court further stated that the Unruh Act “is 21 silent on a duty to mitigate and sets a statutory damages minimum 22 of $4,000. 23 show actual damages to recover the statutory minimum.” 24 1102-03. 25 It is clearly established that a plaintiff need not Id. at This Court agrees with Guedoir and finds that a plaintiff 26 does not have a duty to mitigate damages under the Unruh Act in 27 light of current version of Section 55.56(h). 28 was reasonable for Plaintiff to visit the Market more than once 3 The Court finds it 1 and to seek $8,000 in total statutory penalties. 2 not make any other arguments in opposition to Plaintiff’s motion 3 for summary judgment. 4 summary judgment in full and awards Plaintiff $8,000 in statutory 5 damages. Defendants do The Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion for 6 7 8 9 10 11 III. ORDER For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: July 31, 2017 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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