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Brito v. DHCS Associates, LLC

United States District Court, D. Colorado

December 15, 2017

CARLOS G. BRITO, individually, Plaintiff,
v.
DHCS ASSOCIATES, LLC, a Foreign Limited Liability Company, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Scott T. Varholak United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) (the “Motion”) [#19]. The Motion is before the Court on the Parties' consent to have a United States magistrate judge conduct all proceedings in this action and to order the entry of a final judgment. [#17, 18] This Court has carefully considered the Motion and related briefing, the case file and the applicable case law, and has determined that oral argument would not materially assist in the disposition of the Motion. For the following reasons, I DENY the Motion.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff Carlos Brito is paralyzed from his T-6 vertebrae down requiring him to use a wheelchair to ambulate. [#1 at ¶ 5] Defendant DHCS Associates, LLC is the owner, lessor and operator of a hotel located at 1775 East Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard in Colorado Springs, Colorado (the “Premises”). [Id. at ¶¶ 7, 10] In May 2017, Plaintiff visited the Premises for the purpose of staying at the hotel and encountered architectural barriers to access. [Id. at ¶ 15] Specifically, “Plaintiff was not able to access, among other things, parking, entrance, path of travel, goods and services, common area restrooms, [and] guestroom, at the [] Premises without encountering architectural barriers.” [Id. at ¶ 17] The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff intends to return to the Premises once the barriers are removed, but that Plaintiff is currently deterred from returning due to the barriers. [Id. at ¶ 18]

         On July 7, 2017, Plaintiff brought the instant action alleging that Defendant has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). [#1] The Complaint sets forth 18 specific barriers that Plaintiff alleges violate Title III of the ADA.[2] [Id. at ¶ 25] The Complaint asserts a single claim for injunctive relief.[3] [Id. at ¶¶31-37]

         On September 8, 2017, Defendant filed the instant Motion seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint. [#19] Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and lacks standing. [Id.] On October 13, 2017, Plaintiff responded to the Motion [#29], and Defendant filed a reply in support of the Motion on October 27, 2017 [#32].

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) empowers a court to dismiss a complaint for “lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.” Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) is not a judgment on the merits of a plaintiff's case, but only a determination that the court lacks authority to adjudicate the matter. See Castaneda v. INS, 23 F.3d 1576, 1580 (10th Cir. 1994) (recognizing federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may only exercise jurisdiction when specifically authorized to do so). A court lacking jurisdiction “must dismiss the cause at any stage of the proceedings in which it becomes apparent that jurisdiction is lacking.” Basso v. Utah Power & Light Co., 495 F.2d 906, 909 (10th Cir. 1974).

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court may dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” In deciding a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must “accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations . . . and view these allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Casanova, 595 F.3d at 1124 (alteration in original) (quoting Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009)). Nonetheless, a plaintiff may not rely on mere labels or conclusions, “and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The ultimate duty of the court is to “determine whether the complaint sufficiently alleges facts supporting all the elements necessary to establish an entitlement to relief under the legal theory proposed.” Forest Guardians v. Forsgren, 478 F.3d 1149, 1160 (10th Cir. 2007).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendant makes two arguments in support of its Motion. First, Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. [#19 at 4-6] Second, Defendant argues that Plaintiff lacks standing. [Id. at 6-11] The Court addresses each argument in turn.

         A. Administrative Exhaustion Under Title III of the ADA

         It is undisputed that Plaintiff made no attempt to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing the instant lawsuit. The parties dispute, however, whether Title III of the ADA includes an exhaustion requirement.

         Title III of the ADA provides that “[t]he remedies and procedures set forth in section 2000a-3(a) of [Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] are the remedies and procedures this subchapter provides to any person who is being subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of [Title III of the ADA].” 42 U.S.C. § 12188(a)(1). Section 2000a-3(a), in turn, provides that an aggrieved individual may bring “a civil action for preventive relief, ...


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