Schutza v. Courtesy Chevrolet Center et al

Filing 17

ORDER granting Defendant's 13 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Court dismisses this action with prejudice. Signed by Judge Cynthia Bashant on 4/15/2015. (jah)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 12 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 13 14 SCOTT SCHUTZA, Plaintiff, 15 16 17 18 19 Case No. 14-cv-2576 BAS (DHB) ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS [ECF 13] v. COURTESY CHEVROLET CENTER, a California corporation, and DOES 1–10, Defendants. 20 21 Plaintiff Scott Schutza is a paraplegic individual who uses a wheelchair for 22 mobility. On October 29, 2014, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant 23 Courtesy Chevrolet Center, seeking injunctive relief under Title III of the 24 Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., 25 and additional relief under related state laws. See ECF 1. Plaintiff amended his 26 complaint on February 20, 2015. ECF 12. Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff’s 27 Amended Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF 13. For 28 the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s motion. –1– 14-cv-2576 BAS (DHB) BACKGROUND1 1 2 This action arises out of Plaintiff Scott Schutza’s attempts to test drive cars 3 at Defendant Courtesy Chevrolet’s dealership. Plaintiff is a paraplegic and cannot 4 walk. In June 2014, Plaintiff visited the dealership. Plaintiff wanted to test drive a 5 vehicle prior to purchase. Dealership representatives advised Plaintiff that vehicles 6 with hand controls are not available. Thus, Plaintiff was not able to test drive a 7 vehicle. 8 Based on these allegations, Plaintiff brings causes of action against 9 Defendant for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 10 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 11 51-53, and the California Disabled Persons Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 54-54.8. 12 Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil 13 Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF 13. LEGAL STANDARD 14 15 A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil 16 Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Fed. 17 R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 731 (9th Cir. 2001). The court 18 must accept all factual allegations pleaded in the complaint as true and must 19 construe them and draw all reasonable inferences from them in favor of the 20 nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337–38 (9th Cir. 21 1996). To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed 22 factual allegations, rather, it must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that 23 is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A 24 claim has “facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows 25 the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the 26 misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 27 28 Because this is a motion to dismiss, the Court defers to Plaintiff’s factual allegations. See Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d 890, 895 (9th Cir. 2002). 1 –2– 14-cv-2576 BAS (DHB) 1 550 U.S. at 556). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ 2 a defendant’s liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility 3 of ‘entitlement to relief.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 4 557). 5 “[A] plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to 6 relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the 7 elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting 8 Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)) (alteration in original). A court need 9 not accept “legal conclusions” as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Despite the 10 deference the court must pay to the plaintiff’s allegations, it is not proper for the 11 court to assume that “the [plaintiff] can prove facts that [he or she] has not alleged 12 or that defendants have violated the . . . laws in ways that have not been alleged.” 13 Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 14 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). 15 Generally, courts may not consider material outside the complaint when 16 ruling on a motion to dismiss. Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 17 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990). However, documents specifically 18 identified in the complaint whose authenticity is not questioned by parties may also 19 be considered. Fecht v. Price Co., 70 F.3d 1078, 1080 n.1 (9th Cir. 1995) 20 (superceded by statutes on other grounds). 21 As a general rule, a court freely grants leave to amend a complaint which has 22 been dismissed. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). However, leave to amend may be denied 23 when “the court determines that the allegation of other facts consistent with the 24 challenged pleading could not possibly cure the deficiency.” Schreiber Distrib. Co. 25 v. Serv-Well Furniture Co., 806 F.2d 1393, 1401 (9th Cir. 1986). 26 DISCUSSION 27 Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims, arguing that a car dealership 28 is not required by either the ADA or attendant regulations to install hand controls –3– 14-cv-2576 BAS (DHB) 1 to permit disabled patrons to test drive its vehicles. Defendant is correct. 2 Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iv), requires places of 3 public accommodation to “remov[e] physical barriers that have the result of 4 excluding persons with disabilities from fully enjoying goods, services, privileges, 5 or advantages.” Plaintiff cites 28 C.F.R. § 36.304(b)(21), which lists “installing 6 vehicle hand controls” as an example of “steps to remove barriers.” 7 However, while regulations require a business to remove “architectural 8 barriers . . . that are structural in nature[,]” they do not require businesses to “alter 9 its inventory to include accessible or special goods that are designed for, or 10 facilitate use by, individuals with disabilities.” 28 C.F.R. § 36.307(a). Here, 11 Defendant’s vehicles are its inventory, not an architectural barrier arising from the 12 structure of its public accommodations. Courts have regularly distinguished 13 between access to goods and the goods themselves, finding that only access to the 14 goods is required by the ADA. See Doe v. Mutual of Omaha Ins. Co., 179 F.3d 15 557, 560 (7th Cir. 1999). Furthermore, courts have found on identical legal 16 circumstances that the ADA does not require dealerships to provide hand controls 17 for test drives. Schutza v. FRN of San Diego, LLC, 3:14-cv-2628 JM (RBB), 2015 18 WL 574673 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 11, 2015); Karczewski v. K. Motors, Inc., 3:14-cv- 19 02701-MMA (WVG) (S.D. Cal. March 21, 2015). Accordingly, Plaintiff’s ADA 20 cause of action is based on an incorrect statutory interpretation and fails to state a 21 claim. Because his state claims are predicated on the viability of his ADA claim, 22 they also fail as a matter of law. 23 Plaintiff’s legal theory is barred by the ADA’s statutory schema, and 24 therefore he cannot possibly cure the defects in his complaint. Further, Plaintiff has 25 already amended his complaint and failed to remedy its defects. “Because any 26 amendment would be futile, there [is] no need to prolong the litigation by 27 permitting further amendment.” Lipton v. Pathogenesis Corp., 284 F.3d 1027, 28 1039 (9th Cir. 2002). –4– 14-cv-2576 BAS (DHB) CONCLUSION 1 2 3 4 5 Based on the foregoing, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s motion to dismiss and DISMISSES this action WITH PREJUDICE. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: April 15, 2015 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 –5– 14-cv-2576 BAS (DHB)

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