Lane v. Landmark Theatre Corp.

Decision Date24 April 2020
Docket NumberCase No. 16-cv-06790-BLF
PartiesDEBORAH LANE, et al., Plaintiffs, v. LANDMARK THEATRE CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of California
ORDER RE CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

[Re: ECF 69, 76]

Plaintiffs Deborah Lane and John Daugherty bring suit against the owners and operators of the Nickelodeon Theater, a movie theater in Santa Cruz, California, for allegedly failing to comply with state and federal accessibility laws. Presently before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. As set forth below, the Court finds that each side is entitled to summary judgment as to certain claims, but that several other claims must proceed to trial. The Court thus GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, ECF 69, and Defendants' motion for summary judgment, ECF 76.

I. BACKGROUND

Because both sides have filed cross-motions, the facts cannot be set forth in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Instead, the Court briefly summarizes the basis for the suit, focusing on the undisputed facts and denoting the assertions made by each side.

The Plaintiffs are Deborah Lane and John Daugherty, a couple living in Santa Cruz, California. ECF 70 ("Lane Decl.") ¶ 3. Lane attests that, due to various disabilities affecting her spine, neck, feet, and legs, she is "unable to stand or walk independently" and therefore "use[s] a motorized wheelchair for ambulation." Id. ¶ 2. She further attests that doctors have diagnosed her condition as permanent. Id.; see also ECF 70-1 (Letter from Dr. J. Spiegel of the Santa Cruz County Health Department). Daugherty states that he was born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy, as a result of which he "can only stand for short periods of time." ECF 71 ("Daugherty Decl.") ¶ 2. Consequently, he, like Lane, "use[s] a motorized wheelchair for ambulation." Id.

According to Plaintiffs, they are avid movie-goers. Daugherty Decl. ¶ 3; Lane Decl. ¶ 3. One of the theaters they have frequented is the Nickelodeon Theater (the "Nick") located at 210 Lincoln Street, Santa Cruz, California. Daugherty Decl. ¶ 3; Lane Decl. ¶ 3. The Nick was originally built in 1969 as a one-screen movie theater. ECF 72-3 (initial permits and plans for construction of the Nick, received from the Santa Cruz Building Department); see ECF 72 ("Clefton Decl.") ¶ 4; ECF 76-1 ("Fant Decl.") ¶ 4. It was later altered to become the four-screen theater it is today, which Defendants Landmark Movie Theaters and Silver Cinemas Acquisition Co.1 acquired in 2015. Fant Decl. ¶ 4; ECF 72-6 at 3 (deposition of Michael Fant from 2/19/2019). Plaintiffs say that they enjoy going to the Nick because it is only four blocks from their home and because it shows independent films that often are not screened elsewhere. Daugherty Decl. ¶ 3; Lane Decl. ¶ 3.

Specifically, the instant suit is based on two visits Plaintiffs made to the Nick, one on June 18, 2016 and another on August 7, 2016. Daugherty Decl. ¶¶ 5-10; Lane Decl. ¶¶ 5-10; ECF 39 (First Amended Complaint ("FAC")) ¶¶ 15-17. Plaintiffs attest that on June 18, 2016, they went to the Nick to watch a movie called Maggie's Plan. Daugherty Decl. ¶¶ 6-7; Lane Decl. ¶¶ 6-8. Plaintiffs both claim to have encountered numerous barriers to access at the Nick. For instance, Lane states that when she used the restroom, her wheelchair "got stuck in the front part of the stall due to its small size." Lane Decl. ¶ 8. Lane further states that she "twisted [her] back trying to maneuver into the stall" but was ultimately "unable to actually use the toilet." Id. Daugherty allegedly encountered other barriers during that visit, including: the entrance doors to the Nick were too heavy, and Daugherty required assistance to open them; the height of the concessionscounter was too high, and Daugherty required assistance to complete his transaction. Daugherty Decl. ¶ 7.

Plaintiffs returned to the Nick on August 7, 2016 to see a movie called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Daugherty Decl. ¶ 9; Lane Decl. ¶ 10. They allege that they again experienced several accessibility barriers. In particular, Lane had an urgent need to use the restroom and her wheelchair became stuck in the stall, as it had on her previous visit. Lane Decl. ¶ 11. Unable to use the Nick's restroom, Lane "tried to get home quickly in order to use the restroom there" but "did not make it" and had an "embarrassing urination accident" before reaching her home. Id. Daugherty likewise needed to use the men's restroom. Though he was able to access the toilet, "the placement of the grab bars made it difficult" for him to do so. Daugherty Decl. ¶ 10. In addition, "[d]ue to the size and configuration of the toilet stall," Daugherty was unable to close the stall door while he was using it and then was unable to flush the toilet afterwards. Id. Plaintiffs say that their experiences on both visits caused them great embarrassment and physical discomfort. Daugherty Decl. ¶¶ 8-10; Lane Decl. ¶¶ 8-9, 11. As a result, they have been deterred from returning to the Nick, despite wanting to see movies being shown there. Daugherty Decl. ¶ 11; Lane Decl. ¶ 12.

On November 23, 2016, Plaintiffs filed their original Complaint, ECF 1. After proceeding as mandated by General Order No. 56 for the Northern District of California, the parties were unable to resolve the case. Accordingly, the parties moved for administrative relief pursuant to General Order No. 56 and Civil Local Rule 7-11 and this Court granted the motion. ECF 26. The parties then stipulated to the filing of the operative First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), ECF 39, the sole purpose of which was to add allegations of notice to Defendants of Plaintiffs' claimed access barriers, as required by Oliver v. Ralphs Grocery Co., 654 F.3d 903, 909 (9th Cir. 2011). ECF 38.

The FAC identifies 66 barriers to disabled access at the Nick. See FAC ¶ 19. They are:

Exterior Ticket Windows:
1. The slope of the ground surface at the two ticket windows has a slope of more than 1:48; measured at 3.8%.
2. There is not a ticket window with a transaction counter 34" maximum above the ground surface; measured at approx. 42" and 43-1/4".
3. The height of the call button is more than 54" (2010 ADAS safe harbor); measured at approx. 55-1/2" AFF [Above Finished Floor].
Entry Door:
4. The threshold is more than 1/2" above the exterior walk surface; measured at approx. 1-1/4".
5. The effort to operate the door exceeds 5lbs. force; measured at approx. 8.5lbs force.
6. The required tactile exit sign is not provided.
7. A loose floor mat is provided at the exterior side of the entry door and can roll up and create a tripping hazard.
Theatre Lobby:
8. A loose floor mat is provided at the exterior side of the entry door and can roll up and create a tripping hazard.
9. There is not a compliant section of snack counter. The height of the counter surface is more [than] 34" AFF; measured at approx. 39-1/2" AFF.
10. There is not a compliant section of counter. The height of the counter surface is more [than] 34" AFF; measured at approx. 36" AFF.
11. The operable part of the water dispenser is more than 46" AFF and over an obstruction more than 34" max AFF (the counter is at 36" AFF, see Item 10, above).
Theatre Lobby - Accessible Route:
12. An accessible route is not provided from the building entrance to theater number [1] or to the men's and women's restrooms. The slope of the route of travel exceeds 1:20 for a [walkway] and 1:12 for a ramp and the cross slope exceeds 1:48; the slope is measured up to 16.7% and cross slope up to 12.2%.
13. The turn approaching the men's restroom is not compliant. The width at the turn is 36" and the width leaving the turn is less than 38".
Men's Restroom:
14. The sign does not contrast with the door; it is not a light sign on the dark door.
15. The maneuvering space does not extend 18" beyond the strike side jamb; measured at approx. 8-1/4".
16. The effort to operate the door exceeds 5lbs. force; measured at approx. 8lbs force.
17. The closing speed is less than 5-seconds; measured at 3.46 seconds.
18. The Clearance to the apron is less than 29"; measured at 27-1/2" AFF.
19. The required clear space and knee and toe space is not provided; there is a barrier placed under the lavatory that encroaches into the required knee and toe space.
20. The reflective surface of the mirror is more than 40" AFF; measured at approx. 55-3/4" AFF.
21. The urinal rim is more than 17" AFF; measured at approx. 17-1/2" AFF.
22. The required clear space is not provided; the width of the stall is less than 60" inside; measured at approx. 38-1/2".
23. The toilet is not centered 17" to 18" from the side wall; it is located approx. 19-1/8" from the side wall.
24. The required maneuvering space is not provided; the measured space in front of the toilet is approx. 37".
25. The rear wall grab bar is not positioned correctly in relation to the centerline of the toilet.
26. The toilet paper dispenser is more than 7" to 9" in front of the toilet.
27. The coat hook is more than 48" AFF; measured at 59-3/4" AFF.
Women's Restroom:
28. The sign does not contrast with the door; it is not a light sign on the dark door.
29. The maneuvering space does not [measure] 60" measured perpendicular to the door in the closed position; measured at approx. 30".
30. The effort to operate the door exceeds 5lbs. force; measured at approx. 9lbs force.
31. The slope of the floor is greater than 1:48; measured at 2.8%.
32. The Clearance to the apron is less than 29"; measured at 27-1/2" AFF.
33. The required clear space and knee and toe space is not provided; there is a barrier placed under the lavatory that encroaches into the required knee and toe space.
34. The reflective surface of the mirror is more than 40" AFF; measured at approx. 52-1/2" AFF.
35. The required clear space is not provided; the width of the stall is less than 60" inside; measured at approx. 35-
...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT