United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Vyanne Samuels claims she was injured after she tripped over
a concrete “wheel stop” in a Safeway parking lot.
According to Samuels, who suffers from an unspecified
disability, the placement of the wheel stop violated
specifications established pursuant to the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Samuels sued Safeway
under a theory of both negligence and negligence per
se. Safeway has filed a partial motion for judgment on
the pleadings, attacking only Samuels's negligence
per se claim. For the following reasons, the Court
will grant the motion.
Safeway owns and maintains a parking garage attached to its
store at 1855 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest in Washington, D.C.
Compl. ¶ 6. Inside the garage, there are several long
rectangular concrete slabs, colloquially referred to as
“wheel stops, ” placed at the front of each
parking space. Id. ¶ 7. On or about June 14,
2018, Samuels parked in the Safeway garage, bought groceries,
and returned to her car. Id. ¶ 16. While
returning to her car, Samuels alleges that she tripped on one
of the wheel stops and fell. Id. ¶ 19. Samuels
sustained a fractured wrist, severe injuries to her lumbar
spine, and various other injuries. Id. ¶ 20.
filed suit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
She identified as an individual with an unspecified
disability under the ADA and alleged that the placement of
the wheel stop violated the ADA Accessibility Guidelines,
namely Advisory 502.4, which regulates elevation changes in
access aisles. Id. ¶¶ 28-29. Safeway
responded by removing the suit to this Court on the basis of
diversity jurisdiction. Safeway has now moved for a partial
judgment on the pleadings requesting the dismissal of Count
II of Samuels's complaint for failure to state a claim.
Safeway contends that the ADA may not be used as the basis of
a negligence per se claim for personal injury and
that Samuels includes no other statutory basis for the
per se action. Samuels opposed, Safeway replied, and
the motion is now ripe for the Court's resolution.
order to grant judgment on the pleadings under Federal of
Civil Procedure 12(c), there must be no material fact in
dispute, and the moving party must be entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Schuler v. PricewaterhouseCoopers,
LLP, 514 F.3d 1365, 1370 (D.C. Cir. 2008). The standard
courts apply to resolving a motion for judgment on the
pleadings is often confused with the standard applied to a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b), especially for failure to
state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). See Maniaci v.
Georgetown Univ., 510 F.Supp.2d 50, 58 (D.D.C. 2007)
(“The appropriate standard for reviewing a motion for
judgment on the pleadings is virtually identical to that
applied to a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).”)
There are important differences, however. While a Rule 12(b)
motion may be based on procedural failures,
including “lack of subject-matter jurisdiction[ ] or .
. . a lack of factual allegations to support a claim, ”
a Rule 12(c) motion “centers upon the
substantive merits of the parties'
dispute.” Tapp v. Washington Metro. Area Transit
Auth., 306 F.Supp.3d 383, 391-92 (D.D.C. 2016) (emphasis
added). When evaluating a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, inferences should be drawn and facts should be
viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Peters v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 966 F.2d
1483, 1485 (D.C. Cir. 1992).
sitting in diversity, this Court must apply the District of
Columbia's substantive law. Metz v. BAE Sys. Tech.
Sol. & Servs. Inc., 774 F.3d 18, 21-22 (D.C. Cir.
2014); see also Erie Co v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64
(1983). Under D.C. law, a negligence per se
plaintiff must “(1) identify a particular law or
regulation designed to promote safety, (2) show that the
plaintiff is a member of the class to be protected by the
statute, and (3) show that the statute imposes specific
duties of care and protection on the defendant.”
Blake v. Securitas Sec. Servs., Inc., 962 F.Supp.2d
141, 150 (D.D.C. 2013). The question in this case turns on
the second element, namely whether Congress enacted the ADA
to protect people in Ms. Samuels's position. The Court
finds that because the ADA has neither a primary nor partial
purpose of protecting people with disabilities from physical
injury, it did not. Therefore, it will grant Safeway's
motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to
Samuels's negligence per se claim.
Congress enacted the ADA to combat disability
examination of the ADA and case law interpreting it reveals
that the ADA does not have a public-safety purpose that can
provide the statutory linchpin for a negligence per
se claim. The Court begins with the statute itself.
Title III of the ADA expressly identifies its various
(b) Purpose. It is the purpose of this chapter-
(1) to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for
the elimination of discrimination against individuals with
(2) to provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable
standards addressing discrimination against individuals ...