Holland et al v. The Related Companies, Inc. et al

Northern District of California, cand-4:2015-cv-03220

ORDER by Judge Jeffrey S. White granting in part and deferring in part {{98}} Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ; and Ordering Supplemental Briefing. Signed by Judge Jeffrey S. White on 7/11/16.

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 PETER HOLLAND, et al., Case No. 15-cv-03220-JSW 8 Plaintiffs, ORDER GRANTING, IN PART, AND DEFERRING IN PART MOTION FOR 9 v. PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND ORDERING SUPPLEMENTAL 10 THE RELATED COMPANIES, INC., et al., BRIEFING 11 Defendants. Re: Dkt. No. 98 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 14 Now before the Court for consideration is the motion for partial summary judgment filed 15 by Defendants, Related Management Company L.P. ("RMC") and Third and Mission Associates 16 LLC ("TMA") (collectively "Defendants") on Plaintiffs' third claim for relief and on the issue of 17 punitive damages.1 The Court has considered the parties' papers, relevant legal authority, and the 18 record in this case, and it finds the motion suitable for disposition without oral argument.2 See 19 N.D. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). The Court VACATES the hearing schedule for July 22, 2016, and it 20 HEREBY GRANTS, IN PART, Defendants' motion. The Court DEFERS ruling on the issue of 21 whether Plaintiffs are entitled to punitive damages. 22 1 23 Defendant The Related Companies, Inc. ("TRCI") also moved for summary judgment on each of Plaintiffs' claims. In their opposition, Plaintiffs concede that TCRI should not be a 24 defendant and state that they will dismiss the claims against TRCI with prejudice. To date, Plaintiffs have not filed a dismissal. Plaintiffs shall file a dismissal of TRCI by July 22, 2016, or 25 the Court shall enter an order granting the motion for summary judgment as unopposed and shall enter judgment in favor TRCI. 26 2 Plaintiffs' opposition brief contains footnotes that do not comply with Northern District 27 Civil Local Rule 3-4(c)(2). The Court HEREBY ADVISES all parties that failure to comply with that rule in the future shall result in the Court striking offending pleadings and briefs from the 28 record without further notice. 1 BACKGROUND 2 The following facts are undisputed, unless otherwise noted. In November 2008, Plaintiffs, 3 Peter Holland ("Mr. Holland") and Kristin Holland ("Mrs. Holland") (collectively "Plaintiffs") 4 leased unit 7C in The Paramount apartment complex ("The Paramount"). In December 2014, 5 Plaintiffs renewed their lease for a period of one year. (See First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), 6 ¶¶ 6, 9-10, 12; RMC Amended Answer to FAC ("RMC Answer") ¶¶ 1, 6, 9-10, 12; TMA 7 Amended Answer to FAC ("TMA Answer") ¶¶ 1, 6, 9-10, 12; Declaration of Deborah Lunn in 8 Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ("Lunn Decl.") ¶ 3.) The Paramount is a 9 residential apartment complex that is owned by TMA and is operated by RMC. (FAC ¶¶ 6-7; 10 RMC Answer ¶¶ 6-7; TMA Answer ¶¶ 6-7; Declaration of Warren Loy in Support of Defendants' 11 Motion for Summary Judgment, ¶ 2; Lunn Decl., ¶ 2.) 12 In January 2015, Defendants sent a notice to The Paramount's residents that the building's Northern District of California United States District Court 13 amenities space, which was located on the floor below Plaintiffs' apartment, would be renovated. 14 That project commenced in March 2015. (RMC Answer ¶¶ 13, 15; TMA Answer ¶¶ 13, 15; 15 Declaration of Connie Cortese in Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 16 ("Cortese Decl."), ¶ 2; Lunn Decl., ¶ 5.) Mr. Holland suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 17 ("PTSD"). After the renovation began, Mr. Holland raised complaints to Ms. Cortese, Jessie 18 Liete, and Tanya Noeggerath Brown about noise from the construction. He also advised them that 19 the noise was impacting his PTSD. (See Lunn Decl., ¶¶ 6, 8 Exs. A-B; Declaration of Joanne 20 Childress in Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, ¶¶ 1-2, Exs. A-B; Cortese 21 Decl., ¶ 3, Ex. A; Declaration of Celia McGuinness in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for 22 Summary Judgment, Ex. A (Deposition of Tanya Brown at 84:2-14; McGuinness Decl., Exs. 5- 23 6).) Plaintiffs asked for an accommodation because of the construction noise. The parties 24 engaged in discussions regarding Plaintiffs' request but were unable to reach an agreement. 25 On July 10, 2015, Plaintiffs filed their complaint and alleged that Defendants' actions 26 violated: (1) the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act, 42 U.S.C. sections 3601, et seq. (the 27 "FHAA Claim"); (2) California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, Government Code sections 28 12926, et seq. (the "FEHA Claim"); (3) California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, Civil Code sections 2 1 51, et seq. (the "Unruh Act Claim"); and (4) California's Disabled Persons Act, Civil Code 2 sections 54, et seq. (the "CDPA Claim"). 3 Plaintiffs also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction with their complaint. (Docket 4 No. 4.) On July 23, 2015, the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, and it 5 ordered Defendants to "make a reasonable accommodation to Plaintiffs by moving them to an 6 upper apartment in their building, free of construction noise, for the duration of their lease at their 7 current rental rate," and it ordered Defendants to pay "the reasonable costs of such relocation."3 8 (Docket No. 31, Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction at 5:25-6:2.) Defendants 9 moved Plaintiffs in compliance with the Court's Order, and Plaintiffs moved out of The 10 Paramount in December 2015. (Lunn Decl., ¶ 3.) 11 The Court shall address additional facts as necessary in the analysis. 12 ANALYSIS Northern District of California United States District Court 13 A. Legal Standards Applicable to Motions for Summary Judgment. 14 A principal purpose of the summary judgment procedure is to identify and dispose of 15 factually unsupported claims. Celotex Corp. v. Cattrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary 16 judgment, or partial summary judgment, is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine 17 dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. 18 Civ. P. 56(a). "In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court may not weigh the 19 evidence or make credibility determinations, and is required to draw all inferences in a light most 20 favorable to the non-moving party." Freeman v. Arpaio, 125 F.3d 732, 735 (9th Cir. 1997). 21 The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of identifying those 22 portions of the pleadings, discovery, and affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue 23 of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). An issue of fact is 24 "genuine" only if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact finder to find for the non- 25 moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). A fact is "material" 26 if it may affect the outcome of the case. Id. at 248. If the party moving for summary judgment 27 28 3 The Court only addressed Plaintiffs' claim for violations of the FHAA. 3 1 does not have the ultimate burden of persuasion at trial, that party must produce evidence which 2 either negates an essential element of the non-moving party's claims or that party must show that 3 the non-moving party does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate 4 burden of persuasion at trial. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 5 (9th Cir. 2000). 6 Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the non-moving party must "identify with 7 reasonable particularity the evidence that precludes summary judgment." Keenan v. Allan, 91 8 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also Fed. R. Civ. 56(e). In addition, the party seeking to 9 establish a genuine issue of material fact must take care adequately to point a court to the evidence 10 precluding summary judgment. A court is "'not required to comb the record to find some reason 11 to deny a motion for summary judgment.'" Carmen v. San Francisco Unified School Dist., 237 12 F.3d 1026, 1029 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting Forsberg v. Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Co., 840 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 F.2d 1409, 1418 (9th Cir. 1988)). If the non-moving party fails to point to evidence precluding 14 summary judgment, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. 15 at 323. 16 B. The Court Defers Ruling on the Issue of Punitive Damages.4 17 Plaintiffs ask that, if the Court does not deny the motion on the issue of punitive damages, 18 that it defer ruling on the issue on the ground that there are outstanding discovery requests that are 19 pertinent to resolution of the motion. On June 27, 2016, Magistrate Judge Laporte issued an order 20 in which she directed the parties to meet and confer to narrow two of Plaintiffs' interrogatories and 21 rejected Defendants' arguments that the interrogatories were not relevant to Plaintiffs' claims or 22 defenses. Judge Laporte specifically addressed the potential relevance of the information to 23 punitive damages. (Docket No. 107, Order re Joint Discovery Letters at 4:12-23.) According to 24 Plaintiffs, the parties have not yet met and conferred on those issues and, thus, they have not 25 received responses to those interrogatories. 26 4 27 Plaintiffs also concede that they are not seeking punitive damages on the Unruh Act and CDPA Claims. Rather, Plaintiffs are seeking treble damages under these statutes. Because the 28 Court grants Defendants' motion on the Unruh Act Claim, Plaintiffs' request for damages on that claim, whether punitive or treble, is now moot. 4 1 Plaintiffs also purport to recount deposition testimony from Warren Loy to support their 2 argument that Defendants' motion should be denied. (Declaration of Steven L. Derby, ¶¶ 13(e)- 3 (f).) Defendants object to these paragraphs on the basis that they constitute double hearsay and are 4 contradicted by Mr. Loy's deposition testimony. (Docket No. 120, Defendants' Objections to 5 Derby Declaration.) Although Defendants have submitted portions of Mr. Loy's deposition in 6 support of their reply brief, it is not clear whether they have submitted the portions they contend 7 contradict Mr. Derby's declaration. 8 The Court finds good cause to defer ruling on the issue of punitive damages, and it will 9 permit the parties the opportunity to submit supplemental briefing, evidence, and any objections to 10 the evidence, on this issue once Defendants have responded to the outstanding discovery requests. 11 It also will permit Plaintiffs to submit the portions of Mr. Loy's deposition that they purport to 12 recount in Paragraphs 13(e) and 13(f) of the Derby Declaration. Northern District of California United States District Court 13 Because the Defendants are the moving party, they shall submit their supplemental brief by 14 no later than August 5, 2016. Plaintiffs shall respond by August 19, 2016. Defendants shall reply 15 by August 26, 2016. If the Court determines that a hearing is required, the Court shall permit oral 16 argument at the pretrial conference scheduled for September 26, 2016. Otherwise, the Court will 17 resolve the motion on the papers.5 18 C. Defendants Are Entitled to Partial Summary Judgment on the Unruh Act Claim. 19 Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment, because the Unruh Act does not 20 apply to requests for reasonable accommodation in residential apartment complexes.6 The Unruh 21 Act provides, in part, that "all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and 22 no matter what their … disability … are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, 23 facilities, privilege, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever." Cal. Civ. 24 Code § 51(b). The Unruh Act also provides that a "violation of the right of any individual under 25 5 26 The Court admonishes the parties to review the Court's Guidelines for Trial and Final Pretrial Conferences in Civil Jury Cases, and it draws their attention to paragraph 2(i) 27 in particular. 6 28 Defendants do not dispute that the Unruh Act applies generally to "the business of renting housing accommodations." Marina Point, Ltd. v. Wolfson, 30 Cal.3d 721, 731 (1982). 5 1 the federal Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA]… shall also constitute a violation of this 2 section." Id. § 51(f). The addition of Section 51(f) to the Unruh Act was to "'adopt[] the full 3 expanse'" of the ADA. Lentini v. California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 370 F.3d 837, 847 4 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Presta v. Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, 16 F. Supp. 2d 1134, 5 1135 (N.D. Cal. 1998)). In Presta, the court also stated that the addition of Section 51(f) was 6 intended to make the Unruh Act "co-extensive" with the ADA. Id. at 1135 (internal quotations 7 and citations omitted). 8 The ADA, in turn, provides that "[n]o individual shall be discriminated against on the basis 9 of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privilege, advantage 10 or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by an person who owns, leases (or 11 leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation." 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). The ADA 12 defines discrimination to include "a failure to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, Northern District of California United States District Court 13 or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford … accommodations to individuals 14 with disabilities[.]" Id. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii). However, courts have held that the ADA's 15 reasonable accommodation provisions do not apply to residential apartment complexes, because 16 they do not fall within the ADA's definition of public accommodation. See, e.g., Arceneaux v. 17 Marin Housing Authority, No. 15-cv-00088-MEJ, 2015 WL 3396673, at *7 (N.D. Cal. May 26, 18 2015) (citing cases); Independent Housing Services v. Fillmore Center, 840 F. Supp. 1238, 1344 19 n.14 (N.D. Cal. 1993); see also 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(a). 20 Defendants rely on Coronado v. Cobblestone Village Community Rentals, 163 Cal. App. 21 4th 831 (2008), overruled on other grounds, Munson v. DelTaco, Inc., 46 Cal. 4th 661, 678 22 (2009).7 In Coronado, the plaintiff, a quadriplegic, was required to use a wheelchair and the 23 sidewalk at his apartment complex ended in a raised curb and did not have a wheel-chair access 24 ramp. The plaintiff argued that this constituted a barrier to access and sued under the Unruh Act, 25 based on an alleged violation of the ADA's access requirement. 163 Cal. App. 4th at 836, 840. 26 27 7 In Munson, the California Supreme Court held that a plaintiff seeking damages pursuant to 28 the Unruh Act based on alleged violation of the ADA does not have to prove intentional discrimination. 46 Cal. 45th at 678. 6 1 The trial court granted judgment in the defendant's favor, because it concluded that the residential 2 portion of the apartment complex was not covered by the Unruh Act. The court of appeals 3 affirmed. It acknowledged that the "'business of renting housing accommodations fell within" the 4 scope of the Unruh Act. Id. at 840 (quoting Marina Point, Ltd. v. Wolfson, 30 Cal. 3d 721, 731 5 (1982)). The court reasoned, however, that the residential portions of the apartment complex did 6 not fall within the ADA's definition of a "public accommodation," and, therefore, those portions 7 of the complex "are not subject to compliance with the ADA or federal regulations implementing 8 the ADA." Id. at 850; Cf. Carolyn v. Orange Park Community Ass'n, 177 Cal. App. 4th 1090, 9 1098 (2009) ("purely residential areas of a common interest development are not public 10 accommodations" for purposes of Unruh Act claim). 11 "[W]here there is a multi-use facility in which there is a commercial office open to the 12 general public but also residential and common areas that are not open to the general public, it is Northern District of California United States District Court 13 appropriate to consider the particular area in question when attempting to determine the 14 applicability of the ADA structural access standards or other ADA requirements." Coronado, 163 15 Cal. App. 4th at 851 (emphasis added). Because the portion of the property at issue was a part of 16 the residential apartment complex, the Coronado court held that the defendant was not required to 17 install a curb ramp at that location. Id. at 850. In sum, because the defendant's conduct did not 18 violate the ADA, there could be no claim under Section 51(f) of the Unruh Act. 19 The Court has not found any California Supreme Court decision that is directly on point. 20 In Munson, the court overruled Coronado to the extent that case held that a plaintiff is not required 21 to allege intentional discrimination to establish an Unruh Act violation based on a violation of the 22 ADA. Munson, 46 Cal. 4th at 678. However, the court left intact the Coronado court's ruling that 23 residential portions of an apartment complex do not fall within the ADA's definition of a public 24 accommodation and, thus, would not support an Unruh Act claim. 25 Plaintiffs rely on Flowers v. Prasad to argue that the court should construe the Unruh Act 26 broadly, such that it would encompass a reasonable accommodation claim on the facts of this case. 27 238 Cal. App. 4th 930 (2015). In that case, the plaintiff, who was required to use a service dog, 28 alleged that the defendant violated Section 51(f) of the Unruh Act when she denied him service at 7 1 her restaurant. The Flowers case is distinguishable on its facts, because the establishment at issue 2 was a restaurant. 238 Cal. App. 4th at 934. Thus, there was no dispute that it fell within the 3 ADA's definition of a place of public accommodation. See, e.g., 42 U.S.C. 12181(7)(b). 4 Plaintiffs also cite the Court to portions of the Unruh Act's legislative history. For 5 example, Plaintiffs note that the legislative history stated that the addition of Section 51(f) would 6 "'[m]ake a violation of the ADA a violation of the Unruh Act. Thereby providing persons injured 7 by a violation of the ADA with the remedies provided by the Unruh Act (e.g., right of private 8 action for damages).'" See Munson, 46 Cal. 4th at 672 (quoting Sen. Judiciary Rep. on Assem. 9 Bill No. 1077, (1991-1992 Reg. Sess.) at p. 5). This language appears to be a recognition that, in 10 contrast to the Unruh Act, the ADA does not provide for damages. See, e.g, Wander v. Kaus, 304 11 F.3d 856, 858 (9thc Cir. 2002); Munson, 46 Cal. 4thg 673 (noting that incorporation of ADA 12 accessibility standards provides a "damages remedy for any violation of the ADA's mandate of Northern District of California United States District Court 13 equal access to public accommodations") (first emphasis in original, second emphasis added). It 14 is therefore consistent with the intent that the amendments to the Unruh Act were intended to 15 "'retain California law when it provides more protection for individuals with disabilities than the 16 [ADA].'" Flowers, 238 Cal. App. 4th at 942 (quoting Stats.1992, ch. 913, § 1, p. 4282.) 17 Absent clear guidance from the California Supreme Court or the Ninth Circuit on this 18 issue, the Court finds the reasoning in Coronado persuasive and shall follow it. Thus, because 19 Plaintiffs sought a reasonable accommodation in connection with areas that are indisputably 20 within the residential portions of The Paramount, they cannot show a violation the ADA and, thus, 21 cannot premise their Unruh Act on that alleged violation. See Rodriguez v. Morgan, No. 09-cv- 22 8939-GW (CWx), 2009 WL 253867, at *1-*3 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 26, 2012) (granting summary 23 judgment in plaintiff's favor on FHAA, FEHA, and CDPA claims based on defendant's failure to 24 permit plaintiff to break lease to accommodate disabilities but granting summary judgment in 25 favor of defendant on Unruh Act claim on same facts); Smith v. Powdrill, No. 12-cv-06388 DDP 26 (RZx), 2013 WL 5786586, at *11 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 28, 2013) (granting summary judgment for 27 plaintiff on FHAA, FEHA and CDPA Claims based on defendant's refusal to make exception to 28 no-pets policy in residential lease for service animal but granting judgment in defendant's favor on 8 8 1 Un nruh Act claiim on same facts). f 2 Accord dingly, Defen ndants are en ntitled to juddgment in theeir favor on this claim. 3 CONCLU USION 4 For the foregoing reeasons, the Court C GRAN NTS Defenddants' motionn for partial summary 5 jud dgment on th he Unruh Acct Claim, and d it DEFERS S ruling on thhe issue of ppunitive dam mages. 6 IT IS SO ORDERE ED. 7 Daated: July 11 1, 2016 8 __________________________________________ JEFFFREY S. W WHITE 9 Unnited States D District Judgge 10 11 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 8 The Co ourt in Southern Californ nia Housing Rights Centter v. Los Feeliz Towers 26 Hoomeowner's Ass'nA reacheed a contrary y conclusionn regarding rrequests for rreasonable acccommodations in a housiing complex x. 426 F. Suupp. 2d 1061, 1068 (C.D. Cal. 2008). Although 27 thee court referrred to the Un nruh Act, thee provision iin cited in suupport of its conclusion w was California Civiil Code sectiion 54.1(b), which w falls w within the CCDPA. See, ee.g., Munsonn, 46 Cal. 28 4th h at 668 n.5 ("Although (this t court an nd others havve referred too both sectioon 51 and 522 as the Unnruh Civil Riights Act, the statutory laabel applies more precissely only to ssection 51[.]]"). 9