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Holt v. American City Diner

May 15, 2007

RUSSELL HOLT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMERICAN CITY DINER, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Russell Holt filed a Complaint on August 31, 2005, against Defendant, American City Diner, Inc. (hereinafter, "American City Diner"), alleging that Defendant's restaurant (also named the American City Diner, hereinafter "the Restaurant") violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., by discriminating against Plaintiff by "denying access to, and safe, full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and/or accommodations" at the Restaurant. Pl.'s Compl. ¶¶ 1, 3, 7, 9. Presently pending before the Court is Defendant's [25] Motion for Summary Judgment, filed on October 25, 2006, arguing that Plaintiff lacks standing to bring the instant suit. On November 13, 2006, Plaintiff filed an Opposition. No Reply was filed. Also pending before the Court is Plaintiff's [24] Motion for Summary Judgment on the merits, to which no Opposition was filed. As the Court concludes that Plaintiff does not have standing to bring this suit based the filings and the relevant statutes and case law, the Court shall GRANT Defendant's [25] Motion for Summary Judgment and accordingly DENY AS MOOT Plaintiff's [24] Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court notes as an initial matter that neither party, in filing its summary judgment motion, complied with Local Civil Rule 7(h). According to Local Rule 7(h), the moving party to a summary judgment motion is required to separately provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue, which shall include references to the parts of the record relied on to support the statement." LCvR 7(h). Neither party explicitly complied with this mandate; both include such statements in their memoranda.

The Parties' deviation from the intent of this Local Civil Rule undermines the purpose of the Rule, which is to assist the Court in quickly determining if any facts are actually in dispute. See Jackson v. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, 101 F.3d 145, 153 (D.C. Cir. 1996) ("[R]epeatedly blending factual assertions with legal argument, the 'relevant facts' section does not satisfy the purposes of a [Rule 7(h)] statement."); Robertson v. Am. Airlines, 239 F. Supp. 2d 5 (D.D.C. 2002) (striking defendant's motion for summary judgment for noncompliance with the Local Civil Rules because the "statement of material facts not in genuine dispute" included no citations to the record and improperly mixed factual allegations with argument). While the purpose of Rule 7(h) is to "plac[e] the burden on the parties and their counsel, who are most familiar with the litigation and the record, to crystallize for the district court the material facts and relevant portions of the record," Finnegan, 101 F.3d at 151, the Court shall accept the additional burden placed on it in this instance by both Parties. Since the Court shall first address Defendant's [25] Motion for Summary Judgment, as the sole issue raised therein is whether Plaintiff has standing to bring the instant case, the Court shall compare the facts as set forth in Defendant's [25] Memorandum with those proffered by Plaintiff in his Opposition. In so doing, the Court concludes that no genuine issues of material fact exist, as both Parties rely on Plaintiff's affidavit and interrogatory answers in drawing their factual conclusions.

Plaintiff is a resident of Boyds, Maryland, who is diagnosed with paraplegia and uses a wheelchair full time. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ¶ 1; Pl.'s Opp'n at 1; Compl. at 1. Plaintiff is the Executive Director of Access Information, Inc. and works from home.*fn1 Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ¶ 4(a); Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. B at 3. Plaintiff has brought at least 17 other ADA actions, largely in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ¶ 4(c) & (d); Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. B (PACER Attachments to Interrog. Answers).

Some time in August of 2004, Plaintiff visited the Restaurant, located at 5532 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20015, at approximately 1:30 p.m. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ¶ 2; Pl.'s Opp'n at 2, Ex. B at 3 (Plaintiff's Answers to Interrogatories ("Interrog. Answers")). Plaintiff's residence is located approximately 26 miles away from the Restaurant. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ¶ 4(a) & n.1, Ex. 1; Pl.'s Opp'n at 10. The Restaurant is not part of a larger chain of businesses. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ¶ 4(c). On the unspecified date in question, Plaintiff:

had time prior to a meeting and was hungry and wanted to have lunch. Plaintiff further stated that he parked on the street in front of the restaurant to go inside and have some food and prepare for his meeting. He wheeled up toward the restaurant and saw how difficult and dangerous it was to access the main entrance due to his disability and use of a wheelchair. He looked to see if there was a way he could ask for help to gain access, but he couldn't even get close enough to the entrance to get anyone's attention from the restaurant for help so he left.

Pl.'s Opp'n at 2 (citing Ex. B (Interrog. Answers) ¶ 4).

On August 31, 2005, at least one year after Plaintiff visited the Restaurant, Plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging nine violations of the ADA and 28 C.F.R. § 36.302, et. seq. Compl. ¶ 12. Plaintiff's Complaint states that Defendant is discriminating against the Plaintiff via the following barriers to access:

i. The threshold at the ramp outside the entrance to the restaurant is too high;

ii. There is no level landing provided outside the entry door to the restaurant;

iii. There is insufficient clear floor space provided outside the entry ...


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