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Bryan v. Florencia Park, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

September 13, 2019

ARIANE BRYAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
FLORENCIA PARK, LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company and Unknown Defendant #1; and Unknown Defendant #2 Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          WILLIAM F. JUNG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes to the Court on Defendant Florencia Park LLC's Motion to Dismiss, Dkt. 19, Plaintiff Ariane Bryan's Second Amended Complaint. Dkt. 17. Plaintiff filed a response. Dkt. 21. The Court heard extensive argument from counsel at a hearing on these matters on September 5, 2019. With the benefit of full briefing and able argument by both sides at a hearing, the Court grants the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss without prejudice.

         Background

         For the purposes of this order, the Court accepts as true the facts alleged in the Second Amended Complaint. Dkt. 17. Plaintiff is a disabled Georgia resident who is largely wheelchair bound and has low vision as a result of diabetic retinopathy. Id. ¶ 10. Defendant owns and operates the Hampton Inn & Suites St. Petersburg/Downtown, located in Pinellas County Florida. Id. ¶ 13.

         Plaintiff alleges that she is a “frequent visitor to Pinellas County and the surrounding Florida counties” and that in August of this year she planned to visit the Pinellas County area to attend a meditation for another case she is plaintiff for, “visit friends, ” and “meet with her attorneys.” Id. ¶ 35. In anticipation of this trip, Plaintiff visited Defendant's website[1] in March 2019 in order to learn about Defendant's hotel with the intention of selecting a hotel for her stay. Id. ¶ 17 & 35. However, she alleges that upon accessing the website she was unable to find information about accessible features of Defendant's hotel including things like bathroom fixtures and accessible seating in the hotel dining area. Id. ¶ 25; see Hampton Inn & Suites St. Petersburg/Downtown, Hampton by Hilton, https://hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/florida/hampton-inn-and-suites-st-petersburg-downtown-PIEHSHX/index.html?SEOid=GMB-HP-PIEHSHX (last visited Sept. 11, 2019). Further, she alleges that the website had “no option to reserve an accessible room in the same manner as one would reserve a king or queen bed, smoking or non-smoking, or room with a view.” Dkt. 17 ¶ 25. She alleges that these barriers prevented her from determining if Defendant's hotel was sufficiently accessible for her to book a stay when she came for her visit to Pinellas County. Id.

         She also alleges that she saw several items on the website that were not in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”). Id. ¶ 24. She does not allege how these deficiencies were barriers to her use of the website. Plaintiff now brings this lawsuit asking for relief under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Florida Declaratory Judgment Act, Fla. Stat. § 86.011.

         Legal Standard

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court accepts all factual allegations of the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). Courts should limit their “consideration to the well-pleaded factual allegations, documents central to or referenced in the complaint, and matters judicially noticed.” La Grasta v. First Union Sec., Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted).

         To establish standing, Plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) they have suffered an “injury-in-fact”; (2) a causal connection between the asserted injury-in-fact and the challenged action of Defendant; and (3) “the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.” Shotz v. Cates, 256 F.3d 1077, 1081 (11th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted). “To establish injury in fact, [Plaintiff] must show that [she] suffered ‘an invasion of a legally protected interest' that is ‘concrete and particularized' and ‘actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.'” Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1548 (2016) (citation omitted). Motions to dismiss based on lack of standing attack the court's subject matter jurisdiction and are therefore considered pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1). Doe v. Pryor, 344 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2003).

         Discussion

         I. Motion to Dismiss under F.R.C.P. 12(b)(1)

         Defendant challenges Plaintiff's standing to bring this lawsuit. Dkt. 19 at 7- 9. Specifically, Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to articulate an injury-in-fact. Defendant points to Plaintiff's distance from Defendant's hotel, lack of definitive plans to return to the hotel's website, and lack of past patronage to the hotel as proof that Plaintiff lacks any threat of future injury. Id. at 10-13. This Court disagrees.

         Count I alleges that “Defendant'[s] Website lacked complete information about accessibility of the Property, which resulted in Plaintiff being unable to make a decision whether the accommodations were suitable for Plaintiff.” Dkt. 17 ¶ 25. Further, she alleges that “Defendant's Website did not offer an adequate system to permit a disabled person such as Plaintiff with visual impairment to comprehend its website in an effective manner.” Id. ¶ 24. These allegations are sufficient to establish an injury-in-fact for standing purposes. See, e.g., Kennedy v. Sai Ram Hotels LLC, No. 8:19-CV-483-T-33JSS, 2019 WL 2085011, at *2 (M.D. Fla. May 13, 2019) (holding plaintiff's allegation that the hotel website “did not identify . . . accessible rooms in sufficient detail so that [plaintiff] could independently ascertain whether or not they are accessible to her” was sufficient to allege an injury-in-fact); Honeywell v. Harihar Inc., No. 2:18-CV-618-FTM-29MRM, 2018 WL 6304839, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 3, 2018) (holding plaintiff's allegations that she visited defendant's website but was unable to ascertain the accessible features were sufficient to allege an injury-in-fact).

         However, “[t]he ‘injury-in-fact' demanded by Article III of the ADA also requires an additional showing when injunctive relief is sought.” Houston v. Marod Supermarkets, Inc., 733 F.3d 1323, 1328 (11th Cir. 2013). Specifically, since Plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief in the ADA context, she “must also plausibly show that she will suffer disability discrimination by the defendant in the future.” Kennedy v. Solano, 735 Fed.Appx. 653, 655 (11th Cir. 2018). This threat of future injury must be “real and immediate” rather than “conjectural or hypothetical.” Houston, 753 F.3d at 1329. “In the few cases that have addressed standing in Title III website cases, district courts have applied the Houston factors to determine whether a plaintiff pleaded a future injury.” Price v. Escalante - Black Diamond Golf Club, No. 5:19-cv-22-Oc-30PRL, 2019 WL 1905865, at *5 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 29, 2019). These are: “(1) the proximity of the defendant's business to the plaintiff's residence; (2) the plaintiff's past ...


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