United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Padraigin Browne, Browne Law LLC, for Plaintiff.
Sieben and Bradley D. Fisher, Fisher Bren & Sheridan LLP,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RICHARD NELSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 3] filed by
Defendant JJSC Properties, LLC (“JJSC”), and the
Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 13] filed by Plaintiff
Aaron Dalton (“Dalton”). For the reasons set
forth below, Defendant's motion is granted in part as to
dismissal, and denied in part as to costs, and
Plaintiff's motion is denied.
a resident of Burnsville, Minnesota, suffers from cerebral
palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility, as well as a van
with a wheelchair lift. (Browne Decl. [Doc. No. 16], Ex. B
(Dalton Dep.) at 5, 10-11, 15, 19-21.) JJSC owns the Grand
Wheeler Sinclair service and gas station located at 1345
Grand Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Def.'s Ex. A [Doc.
No. 5-1] (Brost Aff.) ¶ 4.) The gas station was built in
1960, prior to the enactment of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and has not been
remodeled. (Id. ¶ 3.)
January 16, 2019, Dalton and his roommate, Scott Smith, were
driving in St. Paul, Minnesota, looking for a restaurant,
when they became lost. (Browne Decl., Ex. B (Dalton Dep.) at
34-35.) Dalton testified at his March 29, 2019 deposition
that he and Smith “needed somewhere to pull over and
look at Google Maps, and it just happened to be the [Grand
Wheeler Sinclair] gas station.” (Id. at 35.)
He testified that there was no other reason for stopping at
the station, and that he had never visited it before.
(Id. at 42-43.) Dalton and Smith did not exit the
van, but stopped in the gas station's parking lot.
(Id. at 40.) Dalton, who has filed 44 ADA
accessibility discrimination suits in the District of
Minnesota, (id. at 27), noticed that there was no
signage for an accessible parking spot. (Id. at 40.)
Also, although there was snow on the ground, Dalton testified
that he could not see any painted lines marking an accessible
parking spot. (Id.) Prior to departing the parking
lot, he and Smith took photographs of the site from their
vantage point inside the van. (Id. at 42.) In an
April 8, 2019 declaration filed in support of his summary
judgment motion, Dalton states that when he visited the
station on January 16, he “did not feel comfortable
parking and exiting my vehicle based on the conditions I
observed.” (Dalton Decl. [Doc. No. 17] ¶ 5.)
two weeks later, Smith filed suit against Defendant in Ramsey
County District Court for violations of the ADA, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12101, and the ADAAG, for which he seeks
injunctive relief. (See Compl. [Doc. No. 1-2].)
Defendant removed the case to federal court on March 4, 2019.
(Notice of Removal [Doc. No. 1].)
alleges that when he “attempted to visit the gas
station, ” he found no reserved accessible parking
spots and no reserved van parking spaces, in violation of
ADAAG 208.2 and 208.2.4. (Compl. ¶¶ 18(a)-(b).) He
states that these barriers are “not to be considered
all-inclusive of the barriers and violations” of the
ADA that he encountered or which exist at the station.
(Id. ¶ 19.) Dalton alleges that he
“attempted to access Defendant's premises but could
not do so independently on a full and equal basis” due
to the physical barriers to access. (Id. ¶ 17.)
Further, he alleges that these barriers deter him from
visiting Grand Wheeler Sinclair in the future. (Id.
February 2019, JJSC retained Julee Quarve-Peterson as an
expert to conduct an accessibility review of the gas station
and to make recommendations on its behalf. (Def. Ex. C [Doc.
No. 5-3] (Quarve-Peterson Rpt.) ¶¶ 2-3.) Ms.
Quarve-Peterson, an Accessibility Specialist certified by the
State of Minnesota since 1996, has served as an expert
consultant or witness in hundreds of ADA cases involving
allegations of noncompliant architectural barriers.
(Supp'l Quarve-Peterson Aff. [Doc. No. 28] ¶ 3.)
From the Complaint, she noted that Dalton had identified a
lack of any reserved accessible parking spaces and a lack of
any spaces reserved as van parking spaces. (Def. Ex. C1 [Doc.
No. 5-3] (JQP Inc. Accessibility Complaint Response) at 1.)
Following her February 2019 inspection, Ms. Quarve-Peterson
recommended that Defendant provide a minimum of one
designated accessible parking space with an adjacent access
aisle, and that the newly designated space include “van
accessible” signage. (Id. at 6.)
Quarve-Peterson returned to the site on March 4, 2019 to
verify that JJSC had properly addressed her recommendations.
(Def. Ex. C (Quarve-Peterson Aff.) ¶ 5.) She found that
Defendant had implemented her recommendations, to the extent
possible in March 2019, by designating an accessible parking
space and access aisle and placing signage in the accessible
spot. (Id. ¶ 6.) Ms. Quarve-Peterson noted that
painting the surfaces of the access aisle and parking spot
was not possible at that time, due to the presence of snow on
the ground. (Id. ¶ 7.)
revisited the Grand Wheeler Sinclair station on March 12,
2019. (Dalton Decl. ¶ 10.) He states that he could not
safely exit his vehicle based on the conditions that he
observed, including a lack of stripes or boundaries of an
accessible parking spot, and the presence of a car parked
directly in front of the accessible parking sign and the
“no parking” sign, blocking access. (Id.
Plaintiff's behalf, Peter Hansmeier visited Grand Wheeler
Sinclair on April 3, 2019. (Hansmeier Decl. [Doc. No. 18]
¶ 2.) Hansmeier does not indicate his role with respect
to this litigation, nor does he provide any information
concerning his training and expertise. However, based on his
involvement in similar cases, he appears to be a member of
Plaintiff's counsel's staff. See Dalton v.
Simonson Station Stores, Inc., 017-CV-4427 (SRN/LIB),
2019 WL 3243257, at *3 (D. Minn. July 18, 2019). At the time
of Hansmeier's April 3 visit, he noted that no painted
stripes demarcated the accessible parking space and its
adjacent access aisle. (Hansmeier Decl. ¶ 2.)
April 23, 2019, Ms. Quarve-Peterson conducted a follow-up
visit to the gas station. (Supp'l Quarve-Peterson Aff.
¶ 7.) She and a colleague took photographs on that visit
which show a van accessible sign, designated accessible
parking sign, a striped access aisle, and an accessible
parking spot demarcated with white paint. (Id., Ex.
A-2 [Doc. No. 28-2] (Status Update & Photographs).)
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), JJSC argues that it
has permanently remedied the ADA violations alleged in the
Complaint, rendering Dalton's claims moot. (Def.'s
Am. Mem. [Doc. No. 25] at 6-9.) In addition, JJSC asserts
that Plaintiff lacks standing to bring this action.
(Id. at 9-12.) Defendant argues that Dalton has not
suffered an injury in fact. JJSC notes that Plaintiff has
admitted that he never attempted to access the goods or
services at Grand Wheeler Sinclair, nor is there any evidence
that he intends to return to the station to utilize its goods
or services. (Id.) Defendant argues that because no
live case or controversy exists, and because Plaintiff has
not demonstrated that he suffered an injury in fact, the
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this matter.
(Id. at 9-13.) Finally, JJSC argues that if the
Court dismisses Plaintiff's Complaint with prejudice, it
is entitled to an award of costs. (Id. at 12.)
however, argues that this matter is not moot because JJSC has
failed to provide all of the requested relief. (Pl.'s
Opp'n [Doc. No. 29] at 4-8.) Citing ADAAG 502 in the
Complaint, Dalton alleges that he “requires accessible
parking spaces which comply with all elements of 502
(including location, width, length, signage, slope, and
presence to an access aisle).” (Id.) (citing
Compl. ¶¶ 18-19.) He points to Ms.
Quarve-Peterson's acknowledgement that certain slopes in
the parking lot are not compliant with the ...