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Dalton v. Simonson Station Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 22, 2018

Aaron Dalton, Plaintiff,
v.
Simonson Station Stores, Inc., and Bemidji Management Company L.L.C., Defendants.

          Padraigin Browne, Browne Law LLC, for Plaintiff.

          Edward Peter Sheu, Best & Flanagan LLP for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 16] (“Motion to Dismiss”). Defendants also ask the Court to strike improper supplemental pleading by Plaintiff. For the reasons stated below, the Court will strike those allegations in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 13] that describe events occurring after the initial Complaint [Doc. No. 1] was filed and will deny Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As Defendants' Motion to Dismiss involves a factual challenge to jurisdiction, the Court considers some evidence outside the pleadings. Unless contradicted by the limited record, the Court takes Plaintiff's properly-plead allegations as true. See Sawczyn v. BMO Harris Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 8 F.Supp.3d 1108, 1111 (D. Minn. 2014).

         Plaintiff Aaron Dalton (“Dalton”) is a Minnesota resident living in Burnsville, Minnesota. (Am. Compl., ¶ 9.) Dalton suffers from cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility, as well as a van with a wheelchair lift. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 13.) On June 24, 2017, Dalton attempted to visit Simonson Station, a service station and convenience store in Alexandria, Minnesota. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 14.) Defendant Simonson Station Stores, Inc. is the operator and lessee of the station, and Defendant Bemidji Management Company L.L.C. is the owner and lessor of the station. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12.)

         As Dalton plead in his original Complaint, on this June 24 visit Dalton observed that the parking lot contained 30 parking spaces and only 1 space reserved for disability-accessible parking. (Complaint, ¶¶ 13-14.) The reserved space had no access aisle adjacent to it, and was not identified with a posted sign. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) Additionally, Dalton noted that “[t]he exterior side to the customer entrance to ‘Simonson Station' appeared to be sloped and lacked adequate maneuvering clearance.” (Id. ¶ 19.) As a result of these barriers, Dalton was deterred from parking at Simonson Station and patronizing the service station or convenience store. (Id. ¶ 21.)

         Dalton filed his Complaint in this Court on September 27, 2017, seeking injunctive relief under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). (Id.) Less than a month later, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint [Doc. No. 7], arguing that they had remedied all the alleged ADA violations and that the Complaint was moot. Defendants submitted documentation showing that, since the filing of the Complaint, they had added an additional reserved parking space, an access aisle adjacent to each reserved space, and signage identifying reserved and van-accessible parking. (See Decl. of Arch Simonson [Doc. No. 10], ¶ 5; id., Ex. 2 [Doc. No. 10-1].) Defendants submitted a picture of the entrance closest to the reserved parking spaces and submitted a declaration that is was “flat, on a level path from accessible parking.” (Id. ¶ 6; id., Ex. 3.)

         Dalton did not respond to Defendants' first Motion to Dismiss, but instead filed an Amended Complaint. The Amended Complaint raises additional alleged violations, included that the reserved parking space is too steeply sloped, that the route from the reserved space to the entrance extends into the vehicular traffic lane, and that the dining surfaces for the in-store deli are not at a proper height. (Am. Compl., ¶¶ 18, 22-23.) Dalton also amended his allegations to specify that it was the customer entrance closest to the reserved parking that is “sloped and lacked adequate level maneuvering clearance.” (Id. ¶ 21.)

         Dalton's Amended Complaint also alleges that Defendants' remediation efforts were insufficient. Dalton alleges that, though Defendants installed an additional reserved parking space and an access aisle for van-accessible parking, they are too steeply sloped. (Id. ¶ 27.) Further, Dalton alleges that one of the newly installed signs is not at least 60 inches off the ground, as required by the ADA accessibility guidelines. (Id. ¶ 26.)

         Defendants again filed a Motion to Dismiss. Defendants assert that this Court does not have jurisdiction over Dalton's claim because it is moot and because Dalton does not have standing. (Defs.' Mem. of Law to Supp. their Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 21] (“Defs.' Mem.”), at 10-20.) Defendants further argue that Dalton has failed to plead factual allegations that plausibly state a claim for relief, and that Dalton's improper supplemental pleading should be stricken. (Id. at 8-10, 20-25.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. The Americans with Disabilities Act

         The ADA prohibits property owners or lessees from discriminating against persons with disabilities by preventing them from fully and equally accessing and enjoying public accommodations. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). Structures built or modified after the ADA effective date of January 26, 1993 must comply with accessibility standards in the ADA regulations except where “structurally impracticable.” Id. ยง 12183(a)(1). For structures built before 1993, the ADA creates an ...


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