United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Patti B. Saris, Chief U.S. District Judge
William Norkunas brings this action alleging that the Comfort
Inn in Randolph, Massachusetts, violates Title III of the
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12181
et seq., (“ADA”). Defendants Sandeep
Partners, LLC, Jiten Hotel Management, Inc., and Jiten
Holdings, Inc., which own and operate the hotel, have moved
to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and for
failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted,
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).
hearing, the Court DENIES
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 10).
complaint alleges the following facts.
who had polio as a child, ambulates with the assistance of a
full-length left leg brace, as well as a cane, scooter, or
wheelchair. Compl. ¶ 1. Although he currently lives out
of state, Plaintiff grew up in Massachusetts and returns
often to visit relatives and his late wife's grave.
See Compl. ¶ 2. He also comes to Massachusetts
regularly in his capacity as a disability-rights advocate and
ADA compliance “tester.” See Compl.
¶¶ 2, 17.
unspecified date, Plaintiff visited the Comfort Inn, where he
“personally observed or encountered” at least
twelve ADA violations, “which were confirmed by
Plaintiff's ADA expert.” Compl. ¶¶
20-21. Plaintiff alleges he personally suffered
“frustration and humiliation, ” as well as an
infringement of his “right to travel free of
discrimination, ” as a result. Compl. ¶ 19.
Because of the alleged violations, he has no reservations or
concrete plans to patronize the Hotel, but has stated his
intent to return once the facility is brought into compliance
with the ADA. Compl. ¶¶ 13, 16.
addition to these facts alleged in the complaint, Plaintiff
asserts in an affidavit that: (1) he stayed overnight at the
Hotel on at least three occasions, most recently on June 30,
2017; (2) he comes to Massachusetts to visit family members,
who live in nearby Brockton and Lowell; (3) he
“personally encountered” the architectural
barriers listed in the complaint; and (4) he plans to visit
the hotel once those barriers are removed. Norkunas Aff.
Rule 12(b)(1): Standing
move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1), asserting that Plaintiff does not have standing to
bring a Title III claim under the ADA.
12(b)(1) motions ask a court to dismiss a case for
“lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Standing is among the requirements of
subject-matter jurisdiction, and lack of standing may lead to
dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1). See Van Wagner Boston, LLC
v. Davey, 770 F.3d 33, 36 (1st Cir. 2014). The party
asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of pleading
sufficient factual matter to plausibly demonstrate that he
has standing to sue. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife,
504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). The “irreducible
constitutional minimum of standing” has three elements:
(1) injury in fact; (2) causation; and (3) redressability.
Id. at 560-61. An injury in fact must be both
“concrete and particularized” and “actual
or imminent.” Id. at 560 (quoting Whitmore
v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 155 (1990)).
plaintiff bringing a claim under Title III of the ADA
“must ‘show a real and immediate threat that a
particular (illegal) barrier will cause future
harm.'” Disabled Ams. for Equal Access, Inc. v.
Ferries Del Caribe, Inc., 405 F.3d 60, 64 (1st Cir.
2005) (quoting Dudley v. Hannaford Bros. Co., 333
F.3d 299, 305 (1st Cir. 2003)). Accordingly, a person with a
disability “who is currently deterred from patronizing
a public accommodation due to a defendant's failure to
comply with the ADA” and is also “threatened with
harm in the future because of existing or imminently
threatened noncompliance with the ADA” has established
an injury in fact. Id. (quoting Pickern v.
Holiday Quality Foods, Inc., 293 F.3d 1133, 1138 (9th
Cir. 2002)). Showing a risk of future harm is essential
because, in general, injunctive relief requires
“continuing, present adverse effects” and cannot
be shown by mere “[p]ast exposure to illegal
conduct.” O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S.
488, 495-96 (1974). Even so, a plaintiff with a disability
need not engage in a “futile gesture” to access
noncompliant facilities just to establish standing.