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Davis v. Morris-Walker, Ltd.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 7, 2017

Melanie Davis, Plaintiff,
v.
Morris-Walker, LTD, and Orchard Park, LLC, Defendants.

          Padraigin Browne, Esq. and Browne Law LLC, counsel for plaintiff.

          Edward Peter Sheu, Esq. and Best & Flanagan, LLP, counsel for defendants

          ORDER

          David S. Doty, Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by defendants Morris-Walker Ltd. and Orchard Park, LLC, the motion for summary judgment by plaintiff Melanie Davis, and the appeal of Magistrate Judge Noel's denial of the motion to amend by Davis. Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted, the motion for summary judgment is denied as moot, and the appeal is denied.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         This civil rights dispute arises from plaintiff Melanie Davis's attempts to access the Emma Krumbee's restaurant in Belle Plaine, Minnesota (the Restaurant), which is owned and operated by defendants. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 10-11. Davis suffers from Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Id. ¶ 9; Davis Decl. ¶ 2. On May 3, 2016, and March 4, 2017, Davis attempted to dine at the Restaurant, but was deterred from doing so because there were only three accessible parking spaces, one of which did not contain a sign reserving the spot and the other two of which had signs that were positioned too low to the ground to be visible at all times. Compl. ¶¶ 13-16. She also observed that there was no ramp from the parking lot to the sidewalk, which would have required her to travel through the parking lot to the front door of the Restaurant. Id. ¶ 18. Additionally, the nearest curb was in disrepair, which made wheelchair access difficult. Id. ¶ 19. On April 20, 2017, Davis filed this suit alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). She seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and damages. After receiving the complaint, defendants made several improvements to the accessible parking area of the Restaurant with the assistance of a certified accessibility specialist, a building official for the City of Belle Plaine, and a lawyer to address the specific concerns raised by Davis.[2] Morris Decl. [ECF No. 36] ¶¶ 12-17; McCarty Decl. ¶¶ 2-3, 7; Quarve-Peterson Decl. ¶¶ 2-3. Davis concedes that the improvements redressed the alleged ADA and MHRA violations, save the issue of whether there are a sufficient number of accessible parking spaces for the Restaurant. Defendant now moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Davis moves for summary judgment. Also before the court is Davis's appeal of Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel's order denying her motion to amend the complaint to add allegations that the seating in the Restaurant does not accommodate wheelchair users. ECF No. 59.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Motion to Dismiss

         A. Standard of Review

         In order to properly dismiss an action for want of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), the challenging party must successfully attack the complaint, either on its face or on the factual truthfulness of its averments. Titus v. Sullivan, 4 F.3d 590, 593 (8th Cir. 1993). In a facial attack, “the court restricts itself to the face of the pleadings, and the non-moving party receives the same protections as it would defending against a motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6).” Branson Label, Inc. v. City of Branson, Mo., 793 F.3d 910, 914 (8th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). “In a factual attack, the court considers matters outside the pleadings, and the non-moving party does not have the benefit of 12(b)(6) safeguards.” Carlsen v. GameStop, Inc., 833 F.3d 903, 908 (8th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). Here, defendants have waged a factual attack by asserting that the changes made to the parking lot redressed all of the ADA violations alleged in the complaint.

         B. ADA Claim

         Defendants argue that the complaint should be dismissed given the ADA-compliant changes made to the Restaurant's accessible parking area.[3] Although Davis does not deny that her complaint is largely moot, she argues that the issue of whether there are enough accessible parking spaces remains, thereby precluding dismissal.

         The record establishes that there are 88 parking spaces in the parking lot for the Restaurant. See Quarve-Peterson Decl. ¶ 8; id. Ex. 2, at 2, 6; Morris Decl. [ECF No. 52]. Under applicable ADA standards, the Restaurant is thus required to have 4 accessible parking spaces in a “parking facility”[4] that has 76-100 spaces. 2010 ADA Standards § 208.2. Davis argues that the adjacent truck, oversized, and overflow parking lot should be included in calculating the total number of spaces in the parking facility, which would increase the total number of spaces to 130 and the required number of accessible parking spaces to 5. See id. The court disagrees. The adjacent lot is physically separate from the Restaurant parking lot, and is therefore properly considered a separate “facility” within the meaning of the standard.[5] See Id. § 208.2 (emphasis removed) (“When more than one parking facility is provided on a site, the number of accessible spaces provided on the site shall be calculated according to the number of spaces required for each parking facility.”); see also Quarve-Peterson Decl. ¶ 8; id. Ex. 2, at 6. Indeed, the adjacent lot - which is an empty lot shared with the City of Belle Plaine that used to serve a now-gone truck stop - is used for truck, oversized, employee, and overflow parking, not parking for the Restaurant. Morris Decl. [ECF No. 36] ¶ 4; Morris Decl. [ECF No. 52]. As a result, defendants have provided a sufficient number of accessible parking spaces for the Restaurant.

         Because none of the violations alleged in the complaint remain, the complaint is moot. The court is not concerned - nor does Davis contend - that the alleged violations will recur given the defendants' expeditious and thorough efforts to redress the problems. See Sawczyn v. BMO Harris Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 8 F.Supp.3d 1108, 1113 (D. Minn. 2014) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted) (“The defendant carries a heavy burden of demonstrating not only that it has voluntary ...


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