Langer v. Deddeh et al

Filing 4

ORDER Declining Supplemental Jurisdiction Over State Law Claim. Signed by Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo on 10/4/2019.(anh)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 CHRIS LANGER, Case No.: 19-cv-1879-CAB-AGS Plaintiff, 12 13 v. 14 ORDER DECLINING SUPPLEMENTAL JURISDICTION OVER STATE LAW CLAIM WADIE P. DEDDEH, in individual and representative capacity as trustee of the WM Deddeh Family Trust dated Janurary 3, 2003 et al., 15 16 17 Defendants. 18 19 The complaint in this action asserts one claim under federal law for violation of the 20 Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), along with a claim for violation of California’s 21 Unruh Act. The complaint asserts jurisdiction based on the existence of a federal question 22 (the ADA claim), and supplemental jurisdiction over the state claim. 23 Federal courts have the discretion to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over all 24 claims that are “so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they 25 form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States 26 Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Even if supplemental jurisdiction exists, however, 27 district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim if: (1) it raises 28 a novel or complex issue of state law; (2) it substantially predominates over the claim(s) 1 19-cv-1879-CAB-AGS 1 over which the court has original jurisdiction; (3) the court has dismissed all claims over 2 which it has original jurisdiction; or (4) there are other compelling reasons for declining 3 jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). The Supreme Court has identified additional factors that 4 district courts should consider when deciding whether to exercise supplemental 5 jurisdiction, “including the circumstances of the particular case, the nature of the state law 6 claims, the character of the governing state law, and the relationship between the state and 7 federal claims.” City of Chicago v. Int’l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 173 (1997). 8 “While discretion to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law 9 claims is triggered by the presence of one of the conditions in § 1367(c), it is informed by 10 the Gibbs1 values ‘of economy, convenience, fairness, and comity.’” Acri v. Varian 11 Assocs., Inc., 114 F.3d 999, 1001 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc) (citations omitted). A district 12 court need not “articulate why the circumstances of [the] case are exceptional” to dismiss 13 state-law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 1367(c)(1)-(3). San Pedro Hotel Co., Inc. 14 v. City of L.A., 159 F.3d 470, 478–79 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). 15 Here, the complaint states a federal claim for violation of the ADA, along with a 16 state law claim for violation of the Unruh Act. As a result, while the ADA does not entitle 17 a plaintiff to recover damages, the complaint seeks statutory damages under the Unruh Act. 18 Meanwhile, the same injunctive relief available under the ADA is also available under the 19 Unruh Act. See Schutza v. Cuddeback, 262 F. Supp. 3d 1025, 1031 (S.D. Cal. 2017) 20 (noting that “[i]t is unclear what advantage—other than avoiding state-imposed pleading 21 requirements—Plaintiff gains by being in federal court since his sole remedy under the 22 ADA is injunctive relief, which is also available under the Unruh Act.”). Thus, the state 23 claim and the issues related thereto substantially predominate over the ADA claim, which 24 appears to be a secondary claim included to justify filing the complaint in this Court, rather 25 than a necessary (let alone predominant) claim in this lawsuit. See Rutherford v. Ara 26 27 28 1 United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715 (1966). 2 19-cv-1879-CAB-AGS 1 Lebanese Grill, No. 18-CV-01497-AJB-WVG, 2019 WL 1057919, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 2 6, 2019) (declining supplemental jurisdiction over Unruh Act claim because Unruh Act 3 claim substantially predominated over ADA claim). 4 In addition, the important interest of comity supports declining jurisdiction. See 5 United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966) (holding that comity is a factor 6 to be considered before exercising supplemental jurisdiction). California has a strong 7 interest in protecting its citizens and businesses from abusive litigation and also in 8 preventing its own laws from being misused for unjust purposes. In 2012, in an attempt to 9 deter baseless claims and vexatious litigation, California adopted heightened pleading 10 requirements for disability discrimination lawsuits under the Unruh Act. See Cal. Civ. 11 Proc. Code § 425.502; SB 1186, Chapter 383 § 24 (Ca. 2012). In 2019 alone, Mr. Langer 12 has filed more than 50 disability discrimination cases in this court. Accordingly, the need 13 for California’s procedural protections appears particularly acute. 14 Finally, “federal courts may properly take measures to discourage forum shopping.” 15 Rutherford v. Econolodge, No. 18CV1471-LAB (JMA), 2019 WL 950329, at *3 (S.D. Cal. 16 Feb. 27, 2019) (citing Hanna v. Plumer, 380 U.S. 460, 467–68 (1965)); Schutza v. 17 Cuddeback, 262 F. Supp. 3d at 1031 (holding that plaintiff who had filed numerous ADA 18 actions in federal court was engaging in forum shopping “to avoid California’s heightened 19 pleading requirements for disability discrimination claims.”). “[I]t would be improper to 20 allow Plaintiff to use the federal court system as a loophole to evade California’s pleading 21 requirements.” Rutherford v. Ara Lebanese Grill, 2019 WL 1057919, at *5. “Therefore, 22 as a matter of comity, and in deference to California’s substantial interest in discouraging 23 unverified disability discrimination claims, the Court declines supplemental jurisdiction 24 25 26 27 28 2 Under the Unruh Act a plaintiff alleging disability discrimination must include in his complaint: (1) an explanation of the specific access barrier or barriers encountered; (2) the way in which the barrier denied the individual full and equal access, or in which it deterred the individual on each particular occasion. (3) the date/s when the claimant encountered the specific barriers. The section also contains additional requirements for high-frequency litigants. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.50. 3 19-cv-1879-CAB-AGS 1 over Plaintiff’s [state law claims].” Schutza v. Cuddeback, 262 F. Supp. 3d at 1031. 2 In sum, because (1) Plaintiff’s state law claim predominates over his federal claim 3 under the ADA, and (2) the interests of comity and discouraging forum shopping constitute 4 exceptional circumstances, the Court sua sponte declines supplemental jurisdiction over 5 claim two in the complaint. Claim two is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE to 6 refiling in state court. 7 8 It is SO ORDERED. Dated: October 4, 2019 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4 19-cv-1879-CAB-AGS

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?