On 05/13/2020 BRIAN WHITAKER filed a Civil Right - Other Civil Right lawsuit against STARBUCKS CORPORATION, A WASHINGTON CORPORATION. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Spring Street Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is SERENA R. MURILLO. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.
Pending - Other Pending
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Spring Street Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
SERENA R. MURILLO
STARBUCKS CORPORATION A WASHINGTON CORPORATION
6/12/2020: Answer - Answer
5/21/2020: Proof of Personal Service - Proof of Personal Service
5/13/2020: Summons - Summons on Complaint
5/13/2020: Complaint - Complaint
5/13/2020: Civil Case Cover Sheet - Civil Case Cover Sheet
5/13/2020: First Amended Standing Order - First Amended Standing Order
5/13/2020: Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case - Notice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case
Hearing05/17/2023 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of ServiceRead MoreRead Less
Hearing11/10/2021 at 08:30 AM in Department 26 at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Non-Jury TrialRead MoreRead Less
DocketAnswer; Filed by: Starbucks Corporation, a Washington Corporation (Defendant); As to: BRIAN WHITAKER (Plaintiff)Read MoreRead Less
DocketProof of Personal Service; Filed by: BRIAN WHITAKER (Plaintiff); As to: Starbucks Corporation, a Washington Corporation (Defendant); Service Date: 05/14/2020; Service Cost Waived: NoRead MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by: BRIAN WHITAKER (Plaintiff); As to: Starbucks Corporation, a Washington Corporation (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by: BRIAN WHITAKER (Plaintiff); As to: Starbucks Corporation, a Washington Corporation (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketSummons on Complaint; Issued and Filed by: BRIAN WHITAKER (Plaintiff); As to: Starbucks Corporation, a Washington Corporation (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Limited Civil Case; Filed by: ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketFirst Amended Standing Order; Filed by: ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketNon-Jury Trial scheduled for 11/10/2021 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26Read MoreRead Less
DocketOrder to Show Cause Re: Failure to File Proof of Service scheduled for 05/17/2023 at 08:30 AM in Spring Street Courthouse at Department 26Read MoreRead Less
DocketCase assigned to Hon. Serena R. Murillo in Department 26 Spring Street CourthouseRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: 20STLC04103 Hearing Date: February 16, 2021 Dept: 26
Whitaker v. Starbucks Corp.,
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (CCP §
437c) TENTATIVE RULING: Plaintiff Brian Whitaker’s Motion for Summary Judgment is
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
(CCP § 437c)
Plaintiff Brian Whitaker’s Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.
Plaintiff Brian Whitaker (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (“the Unruh Act”) against Defendant Starbucks Corporation (“Defendant”) on May 13, 2020. Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment (“the Motion”) against Defendant on November 12, 2020. Defendant filed an opposition on February 2, 2021.
Plaintiff alleges he is a California resident with physical disabilities. (Compl., ¶1.) He further alleges that he visited Defendant’s Starbucks located at 14006 Riverside Drive #24C, Sherman Oaks, California (“the Starbucks”) in July 2019. (Id. at ¶¶3-4, 6.) On the day of his visit, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant failed to maintain wheelchair accessible dining surfaces. (Id. at ¶9.) As a result of the lack of accessible facilities at the Starbucks, Plaintiff experienced difficulty and discomfort, and was denied full and equal access. (Id. at ¶¶13-14.)
Requests for Judicial Notice
Plaintiff’s request for judicial notice of (1) the Business Entity Details for Starbucks Corporation, found on the website of the California Secretary of State; and (2) the listing of search results for the business Starbucks Corporation located at 14006 Riverside Drive, #24C from the online Listing of Active Businesses database operated by the City of Los Angeles is granted pursuant to Cal. Evidence Code section 452.
Plaintiff’s Initial Burden of Proof
Plaintiff brings the instant motion for summary judgment based on evidence that Defendant cannot demonstrate any defense to the claim for violation of the Unruh Act. On a motion for summary adjudication of a particular cause of action or summary judgment, a moving plaintiff must show that there is no defense by proving each element of the cause of action entitling the party to judgment on that cause of action. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(1).) Then the burden shifts to the defendant to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to that cause of action or a defense. (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(1).) Additionally, in ruling on the Motion, the Court must view the “evidence [citations] and such inferences [citations], in the light most favorable to the opposing party.” (Intrieri v. Superior Court (2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 72, 81 [citing Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 843].)
A violation of the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) is a violation of section 51, subdivision (f) of California’s Unruh Act. (Cal. Civ. Code, § 51, subd. (f).) Statutory penalties are available for construction-related accessibility violations of the Unruh Act if a patron is denied full and equal access to the place of public accommodation on a particular occasion. (Cal. Civ. Code, § 55.56, subd. (a).) A denial of full and equal access to the place of public accommodation occurs when a patron experiences difficulty, discomfort, or embarrassment due to the violation. (Cal. Civ. Code, § 55.56, subd. (c).) Failure to remove a physical element of the property that does not meet the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (“ADAAG”) amounts to discrimination under the ADA. (42 U.S.C., § 12182, subd. (b)(2)(A)(iv).)
Accordingly, the elements of a claim for violation of the Unruh Act are that: (1) Plaintiff is a qualified individual with a disability; (2) Defendant owned, leased, or operated a place of public accommodation; (3) the place of public accommodation was in violation of one or more construction-related accessibility standards; (4) the violations denied Plaintiff full and equal access to the place of public accommodation; (5) the violations were personally encountered by Plaintiff on a particular occasion; (6) Plaintiff experienced difficulty, discomfort or embarrassment due to the violations; and (7) the discrimination was intentional unless premised exclusively upon a violation of the ADA. (Cal. Civ. Code § 55.56; Mundy v. Pro-Thro Enterprises (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th Supp. 1; Surrey v. TrueBeginnings (2009) 168 Cal.App.4th 414.)
In support of the Motion, Plaintiff presents the following evidence. On July 13, 2019, Plaintiff went to the Starbucks to buy coffee. (Motion, Separate Statement, Fact Nos. 2, 4; Whitaker Decl., ¶3; Louis Decl., ¶2.) On the date of his visit, Plaintiff observed that the tables right outside of the Starbucks were pedestal style and did not have sufficient toe clearance for people in wheelchairs, like himself. (Motion, Separate Statement, Fact Nos. 1, 5, 6; Whitaker Decl., ¶¶2, 4-5.) Had Plaintiff tried to use one of the tables, he knew the pedestal would get in the way of his wheelchair. (Motion, Separate Statement, Fact No. 7; Whitaker Decl., ¶6.) This was frustrating for Plaintiff because he had to find another place to get coffee. (Motion, Separate Statement, Fact No. 7; Whitaker Decl., ¶6.) On July 26, 2019, Plaintiff’s investigator, Evens Louis, visited the Starbucks and measured the toe clearance of the tables as only one inch. (Motion, Separate Statement, Fact Nos. 8-9; Louis Decl., ¶3 and Exh. 4.)
Plaintiff’s evidence demonstrates the table violate ADA standards. Dining surfaces are required to provide toe clearance at least 17 inches deep and 30 inches wide. (36 CFR, Pt. 1191, Appx. D, § 306.) The evidence further demonstrates that Plaintiff encountered this accessibility violation and suffered discomfort and difficulty as a result. However, Plaintiff does not address ownership of the tables, which were outside of the Starbucks. Plaintiff’s own evidence is that the Starbucks is located in a particular unit at 14006 Riverside Drive, specifically unit 24C, but the tables were outside the Starbucks. (Motion, RJN, Exh. 8; Whitaker Decl., Exh. 2; Louis Decl., Exh. 4.) Therefore, the Motion has not demonstrated that the accessibility violations were on property owned, leased, or operated by Defendant, as required to prove an action for violation of the Unruh Act.
Plaintiff has not carried his initial burden of proof on the Motion for Summary Judgment. In opposition, Defendant also disputes that it owns the tables outside the Starbucks Plaintiff visited on July 13, 2019. (Opp., p. 2:7-13.) While the opposition attaches no evidence regarding ownership of the tables, it is not required to do so until Plaintiff has met the moving burden of proof. As discussed above, Plaintiff has failed to do so.
Plaintiff Brian Whitaker’s Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.
Defendant to give notice.
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