United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
APRIL NGUYEN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff
NEW RELEASE DVD, LLC, et al., Defendants
STENGEL, C. J.
Plaintiff April Nguyen brings this action individually and on
behalf of all others similarly situated against Defendant New
Release DVD, LLC, and its related companies, alleging a
violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 12101, et seq. The defendants filed a motion
to dismiss to which the plaintiff responded. For the
following reasons, I will grant the motion.
defendants own and operate over 130 sales kiosks, through
which they rent DVD movies to the public. Am.Compl. ¶
36. Each of these kiosks is accessed exclusively via
a touch-screen interface, which renders the kiosks
inaccessible to individuals like Ms. Nguyen, who are
visually-impaired or blind. Id. at ¶¶ 32,
50, 53. The amended complaint alleges that physical access to
the kiosks represents the only way in which customers may
complete DVD rental transactions with the defendants, and the
kiosks are the only physical places of business maintained by
the defendants. Id. at ¶¶ 37, 41.
who wish to rent a DVD from the defendants must first travel
to one of the defendants' kiosks. Id. at ¶
47. The defendants may assist consumers in locating the
proper kiosk location where they may rent a specific DVD,
via the “FIND A KIOSK” option on the
defendants' website, thereby driving consumer traffic to
specific physical kiosk locations. Id. at ¶ 38.
Once they have arrived at the kiosk, consumers may
--exclusively through a touch screen interface which is
inaccessible to the blind and visually impaired -- browse the
selection of movies available at that particular kiosk, make
their selection, pay via credit or debit card, and
then retrieve the movie they have selected. Id. at
¶ 51. When the rental period is up, consumers must
physically return the DVD to the kiosk. Id.
amended complaint also alleges that Ms. Nguyen and her family
make use of the defendants' kiosks to rent movies in DVD
format. Id. at ¶ 59. In July 2016, she
unsuccessfully attempted to use the defendants' kiosk at
Redner's Market in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, but needed
to rely on the assistance of others in order to complete the
transaction. Id. at ¶¶ 61, 62, 63.
Nguyen brought this one count complaint against the
defendants alleging that by failing to make the kiosks
accessible to visually-impaired individuals, the defendants
are violating basic equal access requirements under
applicable federal law. Id. at ¶ 68. She seeks
a declaratory judgment and other injunctive relief, payment
of costs of suit and reasonable attorney's fees.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted examines the legal sufficiency of the
complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46
(1957). Following the Supreme Court decisions in Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) and
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009),
pleading standards in federal actions have shifted from
simple notice pleading to a more heightened form of pleading,
requiring a plaintiff to allege facts sufficient to show that
the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief. Fowler v.
UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009).
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), in order to “give the defendant fair notice of
what the . . .claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,
” Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. 544, the plaintiff
must provide “more than labels and conclusions.”
Byrne v. Cleveland Clinic, 684 F.Supp.2d 641, 649
(E.D. Pa. 2010)(citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. 544).
A facially plausible claim may not be supported by conclusory
allegations, but must allow the court “to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Nguyen argues that the defendants' movie rental kiosks
are inaccessible to the visually-impaired. She has attempted
to use the kiosks but has been unable to do so without the
assistance of others. Based on these attempts, Ms. Nguyen
filed this action for a violation of Title III of the
Americans with Disabilities Act, seeking to represent a
statewide class of similarly-situated individuals. The
defendants move to dismiss the amended complaint, arguing
that the plaintiff cannot state a claim against them under
Title III because their kiosks are not places of public
accommodation under the Act. I must agree.
III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits
“places of public accommodation” from
discriminating, on the basis of a disability, against an
individual in the full and equal access to goods and
services. The law's general prohibition provides:
No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of
disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods,
services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or
accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any
person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place
of public accommodation.
42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). A violation under Title III can be
based on the “failure to make reasonable modifications
in policies, practices, or procedures, when such procedures
are necessary to afford such goods, services, facilities,
privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with
disabilities . . . .” 42 U.S.C. §
liable under the statute, Defendant New Release DVD must be a
“person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public
accommodation.” Furthermore, its kiosks must be places
of public accommodation. The ADA does not define “place
of public accommodation, but it does define “public
accommodation.” Under the statute, private entities are
considered public accommodations if the operations of such
entities affect commerce and fall into one of twelve
(A) an inn, hotel, motel, or other place of lodging, except
for an establishment located within a building that contains
not more than five rooms for rent or hire and that is
actually occupied by the proprietor of such ...