United States District Court, D. Arizona
Advocates for Individuals With Disabilities LLC and David Ritzenthaler, Plaintiffs,
WSA Properties LLC, Defendant.
G. Campbell United States District Judge
Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities
(“AID”) and David Ritzenthaler filed a complaint
against Defendant WSA Properties LLC in Maricopa County
Superior Court. Doc. 1. The complaint alleges violations of
both federal and state disabilities law, and Plaintiffs seek
declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. Id. at
17-18. On July 15, 2016, Defendant removed the case to this
Court, asserting that the Court has subject matter
jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' federal claims. Doc. 1. On
August 15, 2016, the Court issued an order requiring
Plaintiffs to show cause why this case should not be
dismissed for lack of standing (“Order”). Doc.
13. After receiving an extension of time, Plaintiffs
responded. Doc. 24. For the reasons that follow, the Court
finds that Plaintiffs lack standing to pursue their claims in
this Court. Because the standing analysis for state court
differs from federal analysis, the Court will remand this
case to state court.
Peter Strojnik and Fabian Zazueta have filed numerous claims
against local businesses alleging violations of the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and similar state
statutes. Since March 2016, 162 of their cases have been
filed in or removed to this Court. These cases all appear to
assert identical allegations - that the defendant business
(the nature of which usually is not identified in the
complaint) has violated the ADA by having inadequate signage
or parking spaces for disabled persons.
about these very general allegations, the Court entered an
order on August 15, 2016, requiring Plaintiffs to show why
this case should not be dismissed for lack of standing. The
Plaintiff [AID] makes no allegations in the complaint
regarding its status, nature, or interest in this case.
Plaintiff David Ritzenthaler alleges that he is legally
disabled, that he has a state-issued handicapped license
plate, and that, on or about March 15, 2016, he “became
aware” that there were insufficient handicapped parking
spaces and signage at Defendant's place of business.
Plaintiff does not allege that he personally visited
Defendant's business, but alleges that he will avoid
visiting the business in the future unless it comes into
compliance with the ADA.
Doc. 13 (citations omitted). Because these general
allegations failed to show that Plaintiffs have
“concrete and particularized” injuries that
affect them “in a personal and individual way, ”
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560
& n.1 (1992), the Court ordered Plaintiffs to file a
memorandum showing standing by August 29, 2016. Instead,
Plaintiffs filed a notice of settlement on August 26, 2016,
and asked the Court to vacate the Order. Doc. 15. The Court
declined, noting that this case has not been dismissed and
that Plaintiffs have many other cases before the undersigned
judge that present the same standing concerns. Doc. 18. The
Court directed Plaintiffs to respond as ordered on August 29,
instead filed a motion for an extension of time to respond,
which the Court granted. Doc. 20. Plaintiffs filed their
response to the Order on September 12, 2016. Doc. 24.
Plaintiffs addressed AID's associational standing, said
nothing about Ritzenthaler's standing, and stated that
they intend to file an amended complaint or supplemental
pleading. Id. No motion to amend or supplement has
been filed. Id.
Article III Standing.
invoke the jurisdiction of the federal courts, a disabled
individual claiming discrimination must satisfy the case or
controversy requirement of Article III by demonstrating his
standing to sue at each stage of the litigation.”
Chapman v. Pier 1 Imports (U.S.) Inc., 631 F.3d 939,
946 (9th Cir. 2011) (en banc). “Federal courts are
required sua sponte to examine jurisdictional issues
such as standing.” Id. at 954 (quotation
marks, citation, and brackets omitted). After reviewing
Plaintiffs' response to the Order, the Court finds that
neither AID nor Ritzenthaler have Article III standing to
pursue this suit.
AID Does Not Have Article III Standing.
organization can bring suit on its own behalf or on behalf of
its members. See Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw
Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 169 (2000). In
its response to the Order, AID asserts that it has standing
to sue on behalf of its members; it claims no independent
injury as an organization. Doc. 24 at 1.
Supreme Court has established a three-part test for the
standing of an organization to sue on behalf of its members:
An association has standing to bring suit on behalf of its
members when its members would have standing to sue in their
own right, the interests at stake are germane to the
organization's purpose, and neither the claim asserted
nor the relief requested requires individual members'
participation in the lawsuit.
Friends of the Earth, 528 U.S. at 169.
that at least one of its members has standing to sue in his
or her own right, AID must show that the member has suffered
an injury-in-fact. Furthermore, “an organization suing
as representative [must] include at least one member with
standing to present, in his or her own right, the claim (or
the type of claim) pleaded by the association.”
United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 751 v.
Brown Grp., Inc., 517 U.S. 544, 555 (1996).
text of Plaintiffs' response does not identify any
members of AID, but a caption to one of its sections suggests
that David Ritzenthaler is a member. Doc. 24 at 2. AID does
nothing, however, to show that Ritzenthaler has suffered an
injury-in-fact. Plaintiffs instead make a simple, conclusory
The lack of signage [at Defendant's property] is a
deterrent to disabled individuals' (including members of
AID who are identified and some not yet identified) use of
the Lot, because it renders it more difficult for them to
identify which, if any parking spots are van accessible.
Members of AID would like to, and intends to use the Lot, but
the lack of van-accessible signage that is at least 60 inches
above the ground is a deterrent and barrier to access.
Id. AID also asserts that it has unidentified
members who are disabled or have disabled children, and who
reside in the greater Phoenix area. Id. at 2. These
members allegedly “travel on the Valley's
streets” and “have lawful disability-parking
plates or placards for their vehicles.” Id.
AID provides no actual examples of such persons being
deterred from using Defendant's public accommodation
because it lacks a sign that is 60 inches above the ground.
AID offers only conclusory assertions.
not shown that it has organizational standing to pursue this
action. The discussion below shows that Ritzenthaler does not
have standing, and AID has not identified any other members
who “would have standing to sue in their own
right.” Friends of the Earth, 528 U.S. at 169;
see also Payne v. Chapel Hill N. Properties, LLC,
947 F.Supp.2d 567, 577 (M.D. N.C. 2013) (granting motion to
dismiss for lack of standing when organization identified
only one member in its complaint and was unable to show that
she had standing to sue in her own right). AID may be an
organization interested in enforcement of disability
discrimination laws, but an undifferentiated interest in
ensuring compliance with the law does not suffice.
Lujan, 504 U.S. at 575 (citing United States v.
Richardson, 418 U.S. 166, 176-77 (1974)); see also
Simon v. E. Kentucky Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26,
40 (1976) (“an organization's abstract concern with
a subject that could be affected by an adjudication does not
substitute for the concrete injury required by” Article
David Ritzenthaler Does Not Have Article III
individual plaintiff must satisfy three elements to establish
Article III standing: (1) an injury-in-fact, (2) causation
between the injury and the allegedly wrongful conduct, and
(3) that the injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable
decision from the court. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560.
Plaintiffs have the burden of proving all three elements.
Id. at 561. Plaintiffs correctly note that
“[t]he Supreme Court has instructed us to take a broad
view of constitutional standing in civil rights cases,
especially where, as under the ADA, private enforcement suits
are the primary method of obtaining compliance with the Act,
” Doran v. 7-Eleven, Inc., 524 F.3d 1034, 1039
(9th Cir. 2008), but this does not relieve a plaintiff of his
burden to show an injury-in-fact, see Chapman, 631
F.3d at 946.
injury-in-fact is “(a) concrete and particularized, and
(b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or
hypothetical.” Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560
(internal quotations and citations omitted). This includes a
“requirement that a party seeking review must allege
facts showing that he is himself adversely affected.”
Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 740 (1972).
Additionally, to establish standing to seek injunctive
relief, a party must show that he “is ...