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West v. Docusign, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 15, 2019

ANNE WEST, TOM BROWN, Plaintiffs,
v.
DOCUSIGN, INC., Defendant. KAREN CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
ALIBRIS INC., DOES 1-5, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge.

         Defendant, Albris, Inc., filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (ECF 103) and Brief in Support (ECF 104) arguing that this Court: (1) lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and (2) that the Complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff opposed this Motion (ECF 121), making the matter ripe for disposition.

         The Court, after careful consideration of the issues raised and argued by both Parties, will deny the Motion to Dismiss for the reasons set forth herein.

         I. Background

         The Court writes primarily for the benefit of the parties, and thus, the factual background shall be truncated.

         Plaintiff, a blind and/or visually impaired individual, brought this action against Defendant alleging that Defendant denied her equal access to its website, thereby violating the rights guaranteed to her under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181 to 12189 (“ADA”). Simply stated, Plaintiff claims Defendant's website is not ADA compliant and she, as a visually impaired person, is unable to utilize the company's website.

         II. Analysis

         In Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Brief in Support, Defendant first contends that “Plaintiff cannot as a matter of law establish that Defendant's website is indeed a place of public accommodation under Title III of the ADA, as interpreted by the 3rd Circuit.” However, the Court notes that Defendant primarily relies upon a decision reached the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Ford v. Schering- Plough Corp., 145 F.3d 601 (3d Cir. 1998).

         In Gniewkowski v. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc., 251 F.Supp.3d 908 (2017), this Court considered the very argument raised by Defendant in the instant matter, and denied the Motion to Dismiss. The Gniewkowski case is factually on all four corners with the instant matter. For Defendant's edification, the Court will restate the relevant portions of the Gniewkowski decision herein:

A Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) challenges this Court's “very power to hear the case.” See Judkins v. HT Window Fashions Corp., 514 F.Supp.2d 753, 759 (W.D. Pa. 2007) (Lancaster, J.) (quoting Mortenson v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977)). As the party asserting jurisdiction, Plaintiff “bears the burden of showing that its claims are properly before the district court.” Dev. Fin. Corp. v. Alpha Housing & Health Care, 54 F.3d 156, 158 (3d Cir. 1995). In reviewing a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), this Court must distinguish between facial attacks and factual attacks. See Petruska v. Gannon Univ., 462 F.3d 294, 302 (3d Cir. 2006).
A facial attack challenges the sufficiency of the pleadings, and the Court must accept the Plaintiff's allegations as true. Id. A Defendant who attacks a complaint on its face “[asserts] that considering the allegations of the complaint as true, and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of [plaintiff], the allegations of the complaint are insufficient to establish a federal cause of action.” Mullen v. Thompson, 155 F.Supp.2d 448, 451 (W.D. Pa. 2001). Dismissal is proper under Rule 12(b)(1) only when “the claim clearly appears to be immaterial and made solely for the purpose of obtaining jurisdiction or. . . is wholly insubstantial and frivolous.” Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991) (quoting Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 682 (1946)).
When, as in this case, a Defendant launches a factual attack on subject matter jurisdiction, “no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims.” Petruska, 462 F.3d at 302 (quoting Mortenson, 549 F.2d at 891). In a factual attack, this Court must weigh the evidence relating to jurisdiction, with discretion to allow affidavits, documents, and even limited evidentiary hearings. See United States ex rel. Atkinson v. Pa. Shipbuilding Co., 473 F.3d 506, 514 (3d Cir. 2007).
B. Rule 12(b)(6)
In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Federal Courts require notice pleading, as opposed to the heightened standard of fact pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) requires only “‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds on which it rests.'” Bell ...

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