United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
DENNIS GALARZA; JASON GALARZA; ERICSON LUBIN; JOSHUA PAGAN; NELSON RODRIGUEZ; CESAR SEDA; and LUIS TORRES, Plaintiffs,
FITNESS INTERNATIONAL LLC, Defendant.
DALTON JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant's summary judgment motion (Doc.
30) -the latest round in this briefing battle between: (1)
boxing professionals Plaintiffs Dennis Galarza, Ericson
Lubin, Joshua Pagan, Cesar Seda, Luis Torres, Jason Galarza,
and Nelson Rodriguez; and (2) Defendant Fitness International
LLC. The motion has been fully briefed (See Docs.
33, 39), and for the reasons set forth below, Defendant's
motion is due to be granted.
instant action, Plaintiffs - members of racially protected
classes-have asserted a racial discrimination
claim against Defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, based on
circumstances surrounding their removal from a fitness
center. (See Doc. 19.) The events leading up to this
action arose on January 13, 2016, when Plaintiffs arrived at
Defendant's LA Fitness facility-located at 1540 S.R. 436,
Winter Park, Florida ("S.R. 436 Location")-to use
the pool ("Pool"). (See Doc. 31-5, pp.
13-14.) After checking in, Plaintiffs Dennis Galarza, Ericson
Lubin, Joshua Pagan, Cesar Seda, and Luis Torres
("Boxers") entered the pool area and began swimming
drills, a routine component of their boxing training. (Doc.
31-5, pp. 13-14.) Meanwhile their trainers
("Trainers") - Plaintiffs Jason Galarza ("Mr.
J. Galarza") and Nelson Rodriguez ("Mr.
Rodriguez") - sat in the corner of the pool area
discussing training plans. (Doc. 31-8, p. 16.) As two other
white patrons entered the pool, the Boxers, who were
occupying all three lanes, shifted to a single lane. (Doc.
31-8, pp. 24-25, 35, 40.)
to the Trainers, shortly after the Boxers began swimming, an
"irate" white LA fitness employee tapped on the
window to the pool area and began gesturing in the
Trainers' direction. (Doc. 31-5, p. 14; see also
Doc. 31-2, p. 18; Doc. 31-8, p. 18). This employee was later
identified as Mark Renshaw ("Mr. Renshaw"), general
manager of the S.R. 436 Location. (See Doc. 31-2, p.
10.) To Mr. Renshaw, the Trainers appeared to be
"training" the Boxers (Doc. 31-2, pp. 18-19), which
members and guests are prohibited from doing ("No
Training Policy") under LA Fitness' Membership
Agreements ("Membership Agreements")
(e.g., Doc. 15-1, p. 9 ("No Member or guest may
coach or train other Members or guests (as determined by LA
Mr. Renshaw's gestures, the Trainers continued talking
with each other. (See Doc. 31-8, p. 19.) Calvin
White ("Mr. White"), personal training director at
the S.R. 436 Location (Doc. 31-1, p. 21) then approached the
Trainers, accused them of training the Boxers, and told them
that they and the Boxers had to leave. (Doc. 31-5, p.
15; see also Doc. 31-8, pp. 20-25). In response, the
Trainers explained that they were not coaching the Boxers, as
the Boxers already knew the routine and required no
direction. (Doc. 31-8, pp. 21-22, 25; see also Doc.
31-5, p. 18.) To assuage Mr. White's concerns, the
Trainers offered to get in the pool with the Boxers or wait
in the car while the Boxers finished their swimming drills.
(Doc. 31-8, pp. 23-24.) Unsatisfied, Mr. White repeated his
demand that Plaintiffs leave. (Doc. 31-5, p. 18; see
also Doc. 31-8, pp. 23, 26.)
Boxers exited the pool, Mr. Rodriguez proceeded to the lobby
of the S.R. 436 Location to inquire about Plaintiffs'
expulsion from the facility. (Doc. 31-8, p. 30.) According to
Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Renshaw ignored his attempts at
discussion. (Id. at 28-29.) Moments later, Mr. J.
Galarza entered the lobby. (See
Doc. 31-5, p. 16.) At that time, Melissa Ciurznski
("Ms. Ciurznski"), operations
manager of the S.R. 436 Location (Doc. 31-3, p. 15), was
stationed at the front desk (Doc. 31-5, p. 16). Mr. J.
Galarza asked her for a copy of the Membership Agreements and
"the real reason why [Plaintiffs had] to leave."
(Doc. 31-5, p. 16; see also Doc. 31-8, p. 31.) When
Mr. J. Galarza explained that the Trainers were not coaching
the Boxers (Doc. 31-5, p. 16), Ms. Ciurznski stated that
Plaintiffs were making her and other patrons feel
uncomfortable because they were "different" and
pointed to her arm ("Ms. Ciurznski's Statement and
Gesture") (Doc. 31-8, pp. 35, 38). Notably, Ms.
Ciurznski is white. (See Id. at 38.) Following this
exchange, and without receiving a copy of the Membership
Agreements, Plaintiffs left the S.R. 436 Location. (Doc.
31-5, p. 17; see also Doc. 31-8, p. 41.)
on the foregoing, Plaintiffs initiated this action on May 23,
2016, alleging that their eviction from the S.R. 436 Location
prevented them from enjoying the benefits of their
contractual rights under their Membership Agreements in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("§ 1981
Claim"). On March 1, 2017, Defendant filed the instant
motion for summary judgment, seeking to knock out
Plaintiffs' § 1981 Claim. The motion is now ripe for
the Court's determination.
Motion for Summary Judgment
judgment is appropriate only "if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, A77
U.S. 317, 323 (1986). As to issues for which the movant would
bear the burden of proof at trial, the "movant must
affirmatively show the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact and support its motion with credible evidence
demonstrating that no reasonable jury could find for the
nonmoving party on all of the essential elements of its
case." Landolfi v. City of Melbourne,
Via., 515 F.App'x 832, 834 (11th Cir. 2012)
(citing Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112,
1115 (11th Cir. 1993)).
issues for which the nonmovant would bear the burden of proof
at trial, the movant has two options: (1) the movant may
simply point out an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case; or (2) the movant may provide
"affirmative evidence demonstrating that the nonmoving
party will be unable to prove its case at trial."
U.S. v. Four Parcels of Real Prop, in Green &
Tuscaloosa Ctys., 941 F.2d 1428, 1438 (11th Cir. 1991)
(citing Celotex Corp., A77 U.S. at 325). "The
burden then shifts to the nonmoving party, who must go beyond
the pleadings and present affirmative evidence to show that a
genuine issue of material fact exists." Porter v.
Ray, 461 F.3d 1315, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006) (citing
Fitzpatrick, 2 F.3d at 1115-17).
factual dispute is genuine 'if the evidence is such that
a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.'" Four Parcels, 941 F.2d at 1437
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986)). A court must view the evidence and all
reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence in the light
most favorable to the nonmovant, Battle v. Bd. of
Regents, 468 F.3d 755, 759 (11th Cir. 2006), such that
"when conflict arises between the facts evidenced by the
parties, [the] court credit[s] the nonmoving party's
version, " Evans v. Stephens, 407 F.3d 1272,
1278 (11th Cir. 2005). However, "[the] court need not
permit a case to go to a jury . .. when the inferences that
are drawn from the evidence, and upon which the nonmovant
relies, are 'implausible.'" Mize v.
Jefferson City Bd. of Educ, 93 F.3d 739, 743 (11th Cir.