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Moras v. Albertson's LLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 29, 2016

DANIEL MORAS, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ALBERTSON'S LLC and ABS ID-O LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court

         INTRODUCTION

         The Court has before it defendant Albertsons, LLC's and ABS ID-O, LLC Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt 26), and Plaintiff Moras's Motion to Certify Class (Dkt 29). The Court heard oral argument on September 1, 2016 and now issues its decision. The Court will address each motion below.

         FACTS

         Plaintiff Moras has a mobility disability and is limited in the major life activity of walking and relies on a wheelchair, and is therefore part of a protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992. Defendant Albertsons, LLC is a grocery chain which owns and operates retail grocery stores in a number of states, including Idaho. Moras's Complaint alleges that Albertsons has failed to maintain its premises in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. Specifically, Moras alleges that non-compliance was observed at seven Albertsons stores in claimed violation of Title III of the ADA, located at: 4700 North Eagle Road, Boise, Idaho; 10700 West Ustick Road, Boise, Idaho; 909 East Parkcenter Boulevard, Boise, Idaho; 2715 West Overland Road, Boise, Idaho; 3614 West State Street, Boise, Idaho; 5100 West Overland Road, Boise, Idaho; 1520 North Cole Road, Boise, Idaho.

         At these locations, Moras hired investigators to examine the locations, and observed that the parking lots were in violation of the ADA based on the lack of van accessible parking spaces, excessive slopes in purportedly accessible parking spaces and accessible aisles, and improperly mounted handicapped signs.

         Albertsons maintains that each Albertsons store is purportedly built in compliance with the ADA, and is remodeled every eight to ten-years. Briggs p. 16 11. 11-15[1]. These remodels include a general architectural review of the store in order to identify issues that need to be addressed, and all defects in ADA compliance, if any, are repaired and brought into compliance. Id. Between the initial construction and the remodel cycle of each store, Albertsons ADA compliance policy consists of reliance on customer complaints to identify maintenance issues at their facilities. Briggs p. 16 11. 1-7. Albertsons' director of project development explained, "Generally, I think it's - you find issues and you fix them. If a customer makes a - you know, lodges a complaint that they have an issue, you know, you identify the issue and you fix it. So we don't go looking for issues; but as they arise, we have a maintenance group and we fix those issues." Id. Alternatively, store managers and employees may observe and internally report obvious ADA violations. Briggs p. 17 11. 4-8. For instance, Mr. Briggs stated, "We may not get a complaint on an issue that we fix ourselves. If you have a pavement crack or something that clearly is an issue, we may fix it. It doesn't necessarily have to be brought up by a customer. It could be internally identified and fixed." Briggs p. 99 11. 6-10.

         Following the filing of this lawsuit, Albertsons engaged certain third parties, including a licensed architect, with a goal of remediating any issues of compliance with the ADA in the seven parking lots. SOF ¶ 4[2]. The work which was completed at these sites included:

• Relocating existing (and sometimes adding) accessible parking spaces, parking access aisles and accessible paths of travel to an area where the cross-slope and/or direction of travel slopes could more easily be achieved within accepted tolerances. SOF ¶ 10.
• Removing the striping and pavement markings for existing parking spaces that presented compliance issues and designating other existing parking as the new accessible parking places with striping and required pavement markings. Id.
• Performing repair, replacement or modification to the existing surfaces, or to other accessibility components (specifically signage mounting heights, and grinding or smoothing surfaces where signage components were removed) to comply with ADA regulations and applicable code requirements. Id. This work generally involved paving, pavement painting and marking, adjusting the height of existing accessible signage, or removing existing potentially non-compliant signage components. Id.

         As a result, Defendant maintains that all seven parking lots subject to this detailed analysis were brought into full compliance with the provisions of Title III of the ADA and its implementing regulations after Plaintiffs Complaint was filed and prior to Defendant's motion for summary judgment. SOF ¶¶ 11-12.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate where a party can show that, as to any claim or defense, "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). It is "not a disfavored procedural shortcut, " but is instead the "principal tool[ ] by which factually insufficient claims or defenses [can] be isolated and prevented from going to trial with the attendant unwarranted consumption of public and private resources." Id. at 327. "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment." Anderson v. ...


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