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Hillesheim v. Holiday Stationstores, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 31, 2017

Zach Hillesheim, Plaintiff,
Holiday Stationstores, Inc., Defendant.

          Padraigin L. Browne, Browne Law, LLC, Counsel for Plaintiff.

          Tamara L. Novotny, Cousineau, Van Bergen, McGee & Malone, P.A., Counsel for Defendant.


          Michael J. Davis, United States District Court.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff brought this action in April 2016 against Defendant Holiday Stationstores, Inc. (“Holiday”) alleging that Holiday violated the ADA and the MHRA at its store located at 1901 Adams St., Mankato, Minnesota. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that when visiting this Holiday store, he observed that two parking spaces were reserved as accessible parking spaces, but both spaces lacked signage. (Comp. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff further alleges that one accessible parking space lacked an adjacent access aisle. (Id.) In addition, the top of the curb ramp was obstructed by a garbage can. (Id. ¶ 13.) A photograph of the parking space is attached to the Complaint.

         In response to Plaintiff's complaint, Holiday asserts it took prompt action to address each of the issues raised by Plaintiff in his Complaint. In addition, Holiday asserts that Plaintiff cannot present any evidence that a physical barrier actually hindered his ability to access and patronize the store such that he suffered an actual injury. Instead, Holiday argues the facts reflect that Plaintiff could have parked in at least one of the parking spaces which had an adjacent access aisle and used the ramp to access the sidewalk that led directly into the store. Instead, it appears that Plaintiff simply chose not to patronize the store.

         II. Standard for Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate if, viewing all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of showing that there is no disputed issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. “A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the case.” Amini v. City of Minneapolis, 643 F.3d 1068, 1074 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 252 (1986)). The party opposing summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Krenik v. County of Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995).

         III. ADA Claim

         Holiday argues that under the ADA, Plaintiff is entitled only to injunctive relief for the claim asserted. See Wojewski v. Rapid City Reg'l Hosp., Inc., 450 F.3d 338, 342 (8th Cir. 2006) (finding that Title III provide only injunctive relief). In this case, Holiday has provided the affidavit of John Baregi, Vice President of Engineering, in which he discussed the upgrades to the handicapped parking at the Mankato store to address the issues in Plaintiff's complaint. Attached to the affidavit of Tamara Novotny are photographs of the upgrades which show ADA compliant handicapped parking. These photographs were taken by Plaintiff's counsel. (Novotny Aff. ¶ 4.) Accordingly, Holiday argues this claim should be dismissed as moot.

         Plaintiff does not oppose dismissal of his ADA claim on the basis that such claim is moot. (Plaintiff Mem. Opp. at 4.) This claim will be dismissed.

         IV. MHRA Claim

         Holiday moves to dismiss his claims under the MHRA on the basis that Plaintiff lacks standing to assert a such a claim. Under Minnesota law, standing is a jurisdictional concept that “requires that a party must have sufficient personal interest in the legal dispute so that it is appropriate to allow that party to pursue litigation.” Krueger v. Zeman Const. Co., 781 N.W.2d 858, 861 (Minn. 2010). Standing exists if a party has suffered an injury in fact - that is a concrete and particularized invasion of a legally protected interest.” Id. To assert a claim under the MHRA, “the act of discrimination itself constitutes sufficient injury for the law to provide a remedy, in the absence of statutory language requiring more.” Id. (quoting Potter v. LaSalle Court Sports & Health Club, 384 N.W.2d 873, 875 (Minn. 1986)). It ...

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