Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center v. Hospitality Properties Trust

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 9, 2017

Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, on behalf of itself; Ann Cupolo-Freeman; Ruthee Goldkorn; Julie Reiskin, on behalf of themselves and a proposed class of similarly situated persons defined below, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Hospitality Properties Trust, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued and Submitted May 15, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California Jon S. Tigar, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 3:15-cv-00221-JST.

          Timothy P. Fox (argued), Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, Denver, Colorado; Bill Lann Lee, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, Berkeley, California; Julia Campins, Campins Benham-Baker LLP, Lafayette, California; Julie Wilensky, Disability Rights California, Oakland, California; for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

          David Raizman (argued), Christopher F. Wong, and Kathleen J. Choi, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart P.C., Los Angeles, California, for Defendant-Appellee.

          Lindsay Nako, Jocelyn D. Larkin, and Lynnette Miner, Impact Fund, Berkeley, California, for Amici Curiae Impact Fund, Disability Rights Advocates, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Disability Rights Legal Center, Disability Rights Oregon, Disability Rights Washington, Equal Rights Advocates, Legal Aid Association of California, Legal Aid Society - Employment Law Center, National Association of the Deaf, National Disability Rights Network, and National Federation of the Blind.

          Before: Andrew J. Kleinfeld and Kim McLane Wardlaw, Circuit Judges, and Brian M. Morris, [*] District Judge

         SUMMARY [**]

         Americans with Disabilities Act / Standing / Class Certification

         The panel affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiffs' motion for class certification in an action under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding transportation services at hotels.

         The panel held that the plaintiffs had standing to maintain this ADA suit. The panel held that a plaintiff who lacks firsthand knowledge that an establishment is not in ADA compliance may rely on the "deterrent effect doctrine" to establish constitutional standing under the ADA. Agreeing with the Tenth and Eleventh Circuits, the panel held that a plaintiff may also assert constitutional standing where her only motivation for visiting a facility is to test it for ADA compliance.

         The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the plaintiffs failed to meet the commonality requirement of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a), given the lack of consistent policies or practices across the hotels owned by the defendant but operated by others.

         Concurring in part and dissenting in part, District Judge Morris concurred in the majority's analysis of standing. Dissenting from the majority's determination that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying class certification, Judge Morris wrote that the plaintiffs satisfied the commonality and typicality requirements of Rule 23.

          OPINION

          WARDLAW, Circuit Judge:

         This case presents two questions of constitutional standing to assert claims under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), and the question of whether those claims are maintainable as a class action. We must decide (1) whether a plaintiff may rely on the "deterrent effect doctrine" to establish constitutional standing under the ADA where she lacks firsthand knowledge that an establishment is not in ADA compliance; and (2) whether a plaintiff has constitutional standing where her only motivation for visiting a facility is to test it for ADA compliance. We conclude that standing may be asserted in both circumstances. However, although plaintiffs have standing to maintain this ADA suit, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying class certification. The court did not err in finding that the plaintiffs failed to meet Rule 23's commonality requirement, given the lack of consistent policies or practices across the hotels owned by defendant Hospitality Properties Trust ("HPT"), but operated by others.

         I.

         HPT is a real estate investment trust ("REIT") that owns hotels across the United States. REITs are vehicles for investors to own a fraction of a group of real estate holdings. Under federal statute, REITs are exempt from taxation on corporate profits; shareholders are taxed only when they receive dividends.[1] 26 U.S.C. §§ 856-859. To avoid taxation at the corporate level, REITs must, among other things, remain passive investors and delegate the management of particular facilities. Id. § 856(d)(7).

         Named Plaintiffs Ann Cupolo-Freeman, Ruthee Goldkorn, and Julie Reiskin ("Named Plaintiffs") are physically disabled and use wheelchairs for mobility. Cupolo-Freeman and Goldkorn reside in California, while Reiskin lives in Colorado. Each phoned an HPT-owned hotel located in her state of residence that provided free local shuttle services, and each was informed that the hotel at issue did not provide equivalent shuttle service for mobility-impaired people. Each alleges that she would have stayed at the hotel she called but for its failure to provide equivalent shuttle service. In addition, each alleges that she still intends to stay at the hotel, but that its failure to provide equivalent shuttle service deters her from doing so at present.

         Cupolo-Freeman, Goldkorn, and Reiskin, along with the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (collectively "CREEC"), [2] filed a putative class action against HPT in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that HPT had failed to offer equivalent accessible transportation services at its hotels in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12182(a), 12182(b)(2)(B), 12182(b)(2)(C).

         Section 12182(a) provides:

No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.

42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). A hotel is a public accommodation. Id. § 12181(7)(A). Section 12182(b)(2)(B) specifically requires private entities that "operate" "fixed route systems" to provide equivalent service to those with disabilities. Id. § 12182(b)(2)(B). Section 12182(b)(2)(C) requires the same of entities that "operate" "demand responsive systems." Id. § 12182(b)(2)(C). CREEC alleges that, while most HPT hotels provide some form of free local transportation service, very few provide equivalent service that is accessible to people who use wheelchairs or scooters for mobility.

         Before the district court, CREEC moved to certify the class pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. It defined the class as people with limited mobility who have been or will be denied equivalent transportation services at HPT hotels. CREEC alleges that the common questions of fact and law include "[w]hether Defendant HPT's transportation vehicles are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs, " and "[w]hether Defendant HPT has ensured that the transportation system in place at each hotel, when viewed in its entirety, meets the equivalent service requirements of" the ADA. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(2). They also assert that certification is proper under Rule 23(b)(2) because HPT "acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class, thereby making appropriate final injunctive or declaratory relief with respect to the class as a whole."

         The district court denied the motion. It held that the proposed class did not meet the threshold Rule 23(a) requirement of commonality because HPT delegates the operation of its hotels to management companies. Deciding CREEC's claims, the district court held, would necessitate 142 "mini-trials" to determine whether the particular practices at each of the 142 challenged hotels violate Title III. In the alternative, the district court held that CREEC failed to meet the Rule 23(a) requirement of typicality, and failed to establish that injunctive relief would be "appropriate respecting the class as a whole, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2). CREEC timely appealed.

         II.

         The district court had federal question subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 & 1343. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(f), which allows for interlocutory appeals from denials of class-action certification.

         III.

         We first address whether CREEC has properly asserted Article III standing. The following three elements constitute the "irreducible constitutional minimum" of standing: (1) an "injury in fact" suffered by the plaintiff; (2) a causal connection between that injury and the defendant's conduct; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be "redressed by a favorable decision." Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992). HPT argues that the Named Plaintiffs have failed to satisfy both the injury-in-fact and redressability requirements. We address these contentions in turn.

         A. The Named Plaintiffs have properly ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.