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Beadle v. Postal

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

May 2, 2017

MIKE POSTAL, Defendant.


          J. Michael Seabright, Chief United States District Judge


         On February 2, 2017, Defendant Mike Postal (“Defendant”) removed pro se Plaintiff Anthony Tran Beadle's (“Plaintiff”) First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), ECF No. 1-3, which was originally filed in the State of Hawaii District Court of the First Circuit. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff's claims arise from an incident where Defendant, an employee at Whole Foods, allegedly refused to allow Plaintiff entry to the store without first placing his service dog on a leash and on the ground. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant required Plaintiff to disclose medical information documenting his disability and provide proof that his dog is a service animal. FAC at 1. The FAC asserts claims that Defendant violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181 et seq., [1] and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1320d et seq. Id.

         Currently before the court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the FAC, with prejudice, on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to allege facts sufficient to state a plausible claim for violation of the ADA and that there is no private cause of action under HIPAA. Based on the following, the court agrees and dismisses the ADA claim with leave to amend, and dismisses the HIPAA claim without leave to amend.


         A. Factual Background

         As alleged in the FAC, Plaintiff suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), extremely high triglyceride levels, a generalized anxiety disorder, and an unspecified physical condition. FAC at 1. On November 29, 2016, [2] Plaintiff attempted to enter a Whole Foods store, but was barred by Defendant, who required that Plaintiff's service dog “be leashed and on the ground.” Id. Defendant further required that Plaintiff provide proof that his dog is a service animal, and documentation regarding both his disability and why he needs to carry his service animal, rather than having it leashed and on the ground. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's conduct violated both the ADA and HIPAA. Id. Plaintiff further alleges that as a result of this “traumatic event, ” he has been unable to study and concentrate, which led to reduced grades, an inability to participate in some normal daily activities, and aggravation of his psychological and physical conditions. Id. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages of $13, 000. Id.

         B. Procedural Background

         On December 16, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in state court. ECF No. 1-2. On January 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed his FAC, specifically alleging violations of federal law. ECF No. 1-3. On February 2, 2017, Defendant timely removed the FAC to this court. ECF No. 1.

         On February 10, 2017, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim. ECF No. 5. On March 7, 2017, Defendant filed a Supplemental Citation of Authority in Support of the Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 9. Plaintiff filed an Opposition on April 3, 2017, that included additional factual allegations, argument, and supporting exhibits. ECF No. 10. On April 10, 2017, Defendant filed a Reply. ECF No. 11. A hearing was held on April 24, 2017.


         A. Rule 12(b)(6)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a motion to dismiss for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Weber v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 521 F.3d 1061, 1065 (9th Cir. 2008). This tenet -- that the court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint -- “is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Accordingly, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555); see also Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011) (“[A]llegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively.”).

         Rather, “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Factual allegations that only permit the court to infer “the mere possibility of ...

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