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Gastelum v. Pacific Heritage Inn of Chandler LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 11, 2018

Fernando Gastelum, Plaintiff,
Pacific Heritage Inn of Chandler LLC, Defendant.


          David G. Campbell United States District Judge

         Defendant Pacific Heritage Inn of Chandler LLC (“Defendant”) has filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff Fernando Gastelum's complaint (Doc. 1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Doc. 10. The motion is fully briefed, and oral argument will not aid the Court's decision. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny the motion.

         I. Background.

         Plaintiff is an amputee who requires the use of a wheelchair or prosthetic leg. Doc. 1 at 1 ¶ 2. On April 23, 2018, Plaintiff visited a third-party booking website,, and Defendant's website,, to book a hotel room at Staybridge Suites Phoenix-Chandler, a hotel owned by Defendant. Id. at 6 ¶ 26, 10 ¶ 31. Neither website described accessibility features at the hotel in sufficient detail to permit Plaintiff to determine whether the hotel met his accessibility needs. Id. at 7 ¶ 30, 11 ¶ 34. Plaintiff called Defendant's hotel and spoke with a reservation clerk who assured him that the hotel was compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Id. at 14 ¶¶ 35-37. Plaintiff subsequently visited the hotel “to independently verify that it was, at least on the outside, suitable to accommodate his disability.” Id. at ¶ 38. He discovered that the hotel was “replete with accessibility barriers” that prevented him from accessing the hotel, and he declined to book a room. Id. at 14-15 ¶¶ 39-40.

         On April 25, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant, alleging discrimination in violation of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and four Arizona tort claims. Doc. 1. Defendant moves to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff lacks Article III standing. Doc. 10.

         II. Standing Principles and Approach.

         “A suit brought by a plaintiff without Article III standing is not a ‘case or controversy,' and an Article III federal court therefore lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the suit.” See Cetacean Cmty. v. Bush, 386 F.3d 1169, 1174 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 101 (1998)). Because standing is a jurisdictional question, it is properly addressed under Rule 12(b)(1). Id.; see also Kingman Reef Atoll Inv., L.L.C. v. United States, 541 F.3d 1189, 1195 (9th Cir. 2008).

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) can be either a facial or factual attack on jurisdiction. Thornhill Publ'g Co. v. Gen. Tel. & Elec. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979). A facial attack asserts that the allegations in the complaint are “insufficient on their face to invoke federal jurisdiction.” Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). A factual attack “disputes the truth of the allegations that, by themselves, would otherwise invoke federal jurisdiction.” Id.

         In a facial attack, the complaint's allegations are taken as true and construed in favor of the non-moving party. Jacobsen v. Katzer, 609 F.Supp.2d 925, 930 (N.D. Cal. 2009) (citing Fed'n of African Am. Contractors v. City of Oakland, 96 F.3d 1204, 1207 (9th Cir. 1996)). In a factual attack, the plaintiff's allegations are not entitled to a presumption of truthfulness, the court may look beyond the pleadings, and the plaintiff has the burden of proving jurisdiction. Safe Air for Everyone, 373 F.3d at 1039. The plaintiff must “present affidavits or any other evidence necessary to satisfy its burden[.]” St. Clair v. City of Chino, 880 F.2d 199, 201 (9th Cir. 1989).

         Defendant does not specify the basis of its motion to dismiss, but its arguments focus on the allegations of the complaint. Defendant asserts that the “[c]omplaint makes clear that Plaintiff did not book a room at the subject hotel, has never visited the hotel previously, and has no intention to return, ” and that Plaintiff consequently “has not demonstrated any real threat of repeated injury or been injured-in-fact.” Doc. 10 at 2. Defendant presents no extrinsic evidence. As a result, the Court will treat this as a facial attack and presume that the complaint's allegations are true.[1]

         III. Analysis.

         A. Collateral Estoppel.

         Defendant argues that Plaintiff is collaterally estopped from relitigating his lack of Article III standing. Doc. 10 at 2. In a recent order, Judge Murray Snow of this court dismissed for lack of standing eleven cases filed by Plaintiff against other defendant-hotels for alleged ADA violations. Gastelum v. Canyon Hospitality LLC, No. CV-17-02792-PHX-GMS, 2018 WL 2388047, at *1-2, 10 (D. Ariz. May 25, 2018).[2] Because the eleven cases involved “substantially similar, boilerplate complaints” filed by Plaintiff, Judge Snow found that the issue of standing affected all eleven cases. Id. at *2-3. Judge Snow held two evidentiary hearings at which Plaintiff testified. Id. at *2. Based on those hearings and evidence outside the pleadings, Judge Snow found that Plaintiff lacked (1) a concrete and particularized harm and (2) a likely injury in the future. Id. at *6-10.

         The complaint in this case is substantially similar to the boilerplate complaints in Canyon Hospitality LLC, and Defendant contends that this Court should give preclusive effect to Judge Snow's order. Doc. 10 at 2, 6-8. Plaintiff counters that collateral estoppel does not apply because this is “a completely different case relating to a completely different hotel with different factual allegations[.]” Doc. 11 at 1. He argues that Canyon Hospitality LLC relied on a finding that Plaintiff did not ...

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