United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
DERRICK K. WATSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
lawsuit arises from allegations that Plaintiffs had for some
time parked their wheelchair-accessible van in designated
guest parking spots without repercussion, even though
condominium residents, like Plaintiffs, were prohibited from
doing so pursuant to Defendants' parking regulations.
When Defendants eventually towed Plaintiffs' van and
refused to grant Plaintiffs an accommodation to resume
parking in the guest parking area, Plaintiffs brought this
action under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA),
42 U.S.C. Section 3601 et seq., seeking compensatory
and injunctive relief.
have now moved for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 68) on the
basis that Plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief is
moot because Defendants have formally granted Plaintiffs
permission to park in guest parking, and Plaintiffs'
claims for damages should be dismissed because Plaintiffs
have not supported their claims with evidence. For the
reasons explained below, Plaintiffs' claim for
prospective injunctive relief is moot, but a jury trial is
warranted on the sole issue of Plaintiffs' damages for
emotional distress. Accordingly, Defendants' motion is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
& PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
underlying facts in this case are largely undisputed.
Plaintiffs Wilson and Mabel Lau own two units at the Honolulu
Park Place condominiums (HPP), where they live with their
adult son, Plaintiff Garrick Lau. Because Garrick is a
quadriplegic and depends on a wheelchair for mobility,
Laus use a minivan that has been modified to accommodate
Garrick's wheelchair, such that the van's floor and
undercarriage are closer to the ground than the
at HPP have assigned parking spaces near their respective
units.The Laus' assigned parking spaces are
on the third level of the parking structure.To get there, the
Laus must drive up several ramps, and in the process, the
undercarriage of the modified van allegedly strikes the
ground. HPP guest parking, on the other hand, is
on the ground level and does not present the same problem for
the Laus. HPP's written policies, however,
provide that residents are not permitted to park in any of
the (44) designated guest parking spaces. “Violators
of any [HPP] parking regulations risk having their vehicles
towed away at their own expense.”
HPP's guest parking policy, it is undisputed that, for
some time, the Laus regularly parked in HPP's dedicated
guest parking area without consequence. In 2017, HPP
revoked its tacit permission. According to Defendants, this
occurred at a meeting with Garrick on June 20,
2017. In any event, the parties agree that the
Laus continued to park in guest parking. As a result,
on July 10, 2017, the Laus' vehicle was towed pursuant to
the instructions of HPP security personnel.
subsequently sent a letter to the HPP President and Board of
Directors (Board) on August 1, 2017. In the letter, Wilson
requested that the Board allow the Laus to “park at the
guest parking as before . . .” The Board President
offered to exchange one of the Laus' parking spaces with
another unit's parking space located close to the
building entrance, and the President himself even offered to
exchange his parking space for Garrick's. The Laus
rejected these alternative options, none of which appear to
have offered them the ground floor space that they wanted,
and, instead, Wilson and Mabel renewed their parking request
at the Board of Director's August 16, 2017 meeting,
requesting that “the Board grant [their] son a
reasonable accommodation to allow him to park in designated
Guest parking stalls.”
August 23, 2017, the Board denied the Laus' request for
an accommodation in a letter issued by counsel. Among other
things, the Board explained that in light of HPP's guest
parking policy, it could not grant a resident the right to
use the guest parking area without an affirmative vote by the
membership of the HPP Association of Apartment Owners
(AOAO). The Laus then filed this lawsuit on
August 2, 2018, asserting one count under the FHAA. Dkt. No.
6, 2019, the Court heard oral argument on Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. No. 38. At the hearing, the Laus'
counsel represented that it “is the plaintiffs'
position that we are not looking for any sort of assigned
space on the ground floor, we are not looking for any
proprietary interest in any particular space. We want to
continue, just like we did for ten years, which is to park if
there is an open space.” In other words, the Laus
sought permission to park in guest parking “[i]f there
is an open space in the guest parking . . . And if there
isn't, then [the Laus are] just out of luck . .
.” Indeed, the Laus later confirmed in
response to interrogatories that these statements
“accurately reflect” the parking accommodation
they requested from Defendants.
26, 2019, the HPP AOAO, through counsel, sent a letter to the
Laus' counsel, granting Garrick the following parking
1. The non-exclusive use of a single guest parking stall for
Garrick Lau to park his modified wheelchair accessible
vehicle in the dedicated guest parking at [HPP].
2. [The] use of the guest parking will be subject to
availability and if no such parking spot is available,
Garrick Lau will be required to park elsewhere off property.
3. No property interest is passing to Garrick Lau as a result
of the accommodation.
Laus later admitted that as of July 26, 2019, Garrick had the
nonexclusive right to park in a single guest parking space at
HPP,  and further agreed that
“Defendants have provided [Garrick] a reasonable
parking accommodation, ” i.e.,
“reasonable access to” and “equal use and
enjoyment of his dwelling at HPP.”As a result,
Defendants moved for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 68.
judgment under Rule 56 is appropriate only when the Court,
viewing the record as a whole and in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party, determines that there exists no
genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50 (1986). A genuine
issue of material fact exists when “there is
sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury
to return a verdict for that party.” Anderson,
477 U.S. at 249; see Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
380 (2007). “[A] complete failure of proof concerning
an essential element” of a claim “necessarily
renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex,
477 U.S. at 323.
moving party without the ultimate burden of persuasion at
trial”-such as Defendants in this case-“has both
the initial burden of production and the ultimate burden of
persuasion on a motion for summary judgment.”
Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210
F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). To meet its initial burden,
the moving party must either: (1) “submit affirmative
evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving
party's claim”; or (2) “demonstrate to the
court that the nonmoving party's evidence is insufficient
to establish an essential element” of its claim at
trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 331; Jones v.
Williams, 791 F.3d 1023, 1030-31 (9th Cir. 2015);
cf. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
the movant has done so, the opposing party cannot rely on the
mere hope that the trier of fact will disbelieve the
movant's evidence, but instead “must present
affirmative evidence” to avoid summary judgment.
See, e.g., Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57;
Teamsters Local Union No. 117 v. Wash. Dep't of
Corr., 789 F.3d 979, 994 (9th Cir. 2015); Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1). This requires “more than simply show[ing]
that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). By the same token,
“evidence [that] is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative” is not enough,
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50, and “a scintilla
of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will
be insufficient.” Id. at 252. To the extent
probative, supporting evidence does exist, it must be
“set forth in the opposing papers with adequate
references so that it could conveniently be found.”
Carmen v. S.F. Unified Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026,
1031 (9th Cir. 2001); S. Cal. Gas Co. v. City of Santa
Ana, 336 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 2003) (“General
references without page or line numbers are not sufficiently
specific.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3) (a “court need
consider only the cited materials”).
Laus assert only one claim in their Complaint-that Defendants
violated Section 3604(f)(3)(B) of the FHAA by refusing to
provide a parking accommodation in HPP guest parking. Dkt.
No. 1, ¶¶ 1, 22-25; Dkt. No. 75 at 2. To establish
a claim under the FHAA based on a failure-to-accommodate
theory, a plaintiff must show that: “(1) he suffers
from a handicap as defined by the FHAA; (2) defendants knew
or reasonably should have known of the plaintiff's
handicap; (3) accommodation of the handicap ‘may be
necessary' to afford plaintiff an equal opportunity to
use and enjoy the dwelling; and (4) defendants refused to
make such accommodation.” Giebeler v. M & B
Assocs., 343 F.3d 1143, 1147 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting
United States v. Cal. Mobile Home Park Mgmt. Co.,
107 F.3d 1374, 1380 (9th Cir. 1997)); 42 U.S.C. §
3604(f)(3)(B); see also Budnick v. Town of Carefree,
518 F.3d 1109, 1119 (9th Cir. 2008). The parties do not
seriously dispute that the facts of this case satisfy these
elements. Defendants instead assert two arguments in support
of dismissal: (i) the Laus claim for prospective injunctive
relief is moot; and (ii) the Laus have failed to establish
that they sustained any compensatory damages. Dkt. No. 68-1
at 2-3, 16-24; Dkt. No. 85 at 8-9. The Court will address
each argument seriatim.
Claim for Prospective Injunctive Relief
Laus seek “an injunction, ordering [Defendants] to
allow the [Laus] to park their van in the HPP guest parking .
. . for as long as the [Laus]” need such an
accommodation. Dkt. No. 1, ¶ 30. That claim for relief
is now moot by virtue of the ...