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Lau v. Honolulu Park Place, AOAO

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 16, 2019

GARRICK LAU, WILSON LAU, and MABEL LAU, Plaintiffs,
v.
HONOLULU PARK PLACE, AOAO; CRAIG WILLIAMS; REBECCA FRIEDMAN; RICHARD BALDWIN; MELANIE KING; KATHERINE CROSIER TAPPEUR RAHN; CHRISTINE TRECKER; DENNIS PADLOCK; KELLY BREHM; TOM HEIDEN; GARRY BELEN; and WALTER MIRANDA, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs Garrick Lau and his parents, Wilson and Mabel Lau, [1] allege violations of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. §3604(f). They assert that Defendants refuse to accommodate Garrick's acknowledged disability by allowing them to park their minivan in a specific area of the Honolulu condominium in which Plaintiffs live. Complaint (Compl.), Dkt. No. 1. Defendants Honolulu Park Place AOAO and its individual board members (“Defendants”) move to dismiss the Complaint for lack of standing under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Dkt. No. 6. Because each Plaintiff has standing and because the facts alleged sufficiently plead an FHA cause of action, the Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         The Lau family has been living at Honolulu Park Place (HPP) for 27 years and own two units there. Compl. ¶3. As owners and residents, the Laus have assigned parking spaces inside the HPP parking garage on the third level of the parking structure. Id. at ¶17. In addition to designated resident parking spaces, HPP has 44 guest parking spaces on the ground level of the parking structure, which HPP policy limits to use by guests. Id. at ¶13; Motion at 4.

         Garrick, who is a quadriplegic due to a spinal cord injury, moves with the assistance of a powered wheelchair. Id. at ¶12; Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (“Opp.”), Dkt. No. 12. To facilitate Garrick's transportation, the Laus use a minivan that is modified to accommodate Garrick's wheelchair. Compl. ¶13. The modifications include a lowered floor height, resulting in less ground clearance. Id. at ¶15. The minivan Garrick depends on for transportation cannot use the ramps in HPP's parking garage because the angle of the ramps is too steep, damaging the bottom of the Laus' modified minivan as it climbs the ramp. Compl. ¶16.

         For at least five years prior to 2017, with the permission of the AOAO, the Laus parked their modified minivan in guest parking spaces on the ground level of the HPP parking structure whenever a space was available. Compl. ¶13. Parking in these spaces does not cause damage to the minivan and allows Garrick access to the building. Id. at ¶17. Guest parking on the ground level is the only place in the HPP parking structure where the minivan can park without requiring the use of the ramps that damage it. Id.

         In 2017, HPP revoked permission for the Laus to park in guest parking. Compl. ¶14. Since then, the Laus have parked their minivan in their designated parking space on the third floor of the HPP parking structure. As a result, the minivan has sustained significant damage to its bottom, resulting in repair costs to the Laus. Compl. ¶¶20-21.

         Faced with the choice of continuously damaging their minivan, being excluded from parking at HPP despite their status as residents, or parking in guest parking in violation of HPP's policy, the Laus requested permission to resume using the ground floor guest parking spaces to park their minivan. Id. at ¶22. The AOAO denied the request. Id. at ¶¶18, 23.

         Following the AOAO's decision, the Laus filed the instant suit alleging violation of the FHA. They seek equitable relief, in the form of permission to park in the guest parking spaces, and monetary damages. Compl. ¶¶27-30. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, which Plaintiffs opposed, and to which Defendants replied. Dkt. Nos. 6, 12, 15. On May 5, 2019, the Court heard oral argument on the Motion. Dkt. No. 38. After court-mandated settlement efforts did not succeed, this disposition follows.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         I. Rule 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Standing

         Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), a defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of proving that subject matter jurisdiction exists. Robinson v. United States, 586 F.3d 683, 685 (9th Cir. 2009). “If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).

         Standing is a “threshold question in every federal case, determining the power of the court to entertain the suit.” Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975). “Standing is a threshold matter central to our subject matter jurisdiction.” Bates v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 511 F.3d 974, 985 (9th Cir. 2007); see also Ballentine v. United States, 486 F.3d 806, 810 (3d Cir. 2007) (“A motion to dismiss for want of standing is also properly brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), because standing is a jurisdictional matter.”).

         Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution permits federal courts to consider only “cases” and “controversies.” Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497, 516 (2007). “[T]o satisfy Article III's standing requirements, a plaintiff must show (1) it has suffered an ‘injury in fact' that is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant; and (3) it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.” ...


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