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Davis v. Morris-Walker, Ltd.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 29, 2019

Melanie Davis, Plaintiff - Appellant,
Morris-Walker, LTD; Orchard Park, LLC, Defendants - Appellees.

          Submitted: November 13, 2018

          Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis

          Before COLLOTON, SHEPHERD, and STRAS, Circuit Judges.


         Melanie Davis sued the owner of a restaurant and the owner of real property where the restaurant is located, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Davis uses a wheelchair and claims that deficiencies in the restaurant parking lot deprived her of full and equal enjoyment of the restaurant. After the owners made changes to the lot, the district court[1] dismissed Davis's complaint as moot and denied her motion for leave to amend the complaint. Davis appeals, and we affirm the decision, although we clarify that the dismissal for lack of jurisdiction is without prejudice.


         Davis claims that on both May 3, 2016, and March 4, 2017, she attempted to patronize Emma Krumbee's, a restaurant in Belle Plaine, Minnesota. Her complaint alleged that the defendants failed to comply with the ADA, because "[t]he 'Emma Krumbee's' customer parking lot had approximately 130 total parking spaces, but had only 3 spaces reserved as accessible parking spaces, rather than the required 5." The three reserved spaces were also deficient, she asserted, because one lacked an accessibility sign and the signs for the other two spaces were not posted high enough above the ground. One of the three spaces allegedly did not have an adjacent access aisle. Finally, the complaint asserted that the accessible route from the three reserved parking spaces to the restaurant traversed broken asphalt and required travel through a vehicular way rather than a sidewalk.

         Davis sued the owner of Emma Krumbee's and the owner of the real property. Her complaint alleged that the parking lot deficiencies violated the ADA and the Minnesota Human Rights Act, and she sought an injunction directing the owners to remedy those problems. The owners moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that they had remedied the alleged deficiencies and that the case was therefore moot.

         Davis moved for summary judgment and claimed that the parking lot still did not have enough accessible spaces. Even with the improvements, Davis argued, the lot had only four accessible spaces, but her complaint had alleged that five were required. Davis also moved to amend her complaint to add allegations of deficiencies inside the Emma Krumbee's restaurant.

         The district court dismissed Davis's ADA claim as moot and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her state law claim. Because the owners raised a factual attack on the district court's subject matter jurisdiction, the court was permitted to resolve factual disputes and was not required to accept as true every allegation in the pleadings. See Carlsen v. GameStop, Inc., 833 F.3d 903, 908 (8th Cir. 2016).

         Although Davis alleged that the customer parking lot included approximately 130 spaces, the district court found that it included only eighty-eight. The court explained that Davis, to arrive at a total of 130 spaces, had counted spaces from an adjacent overflow lot. The court determined, however, that the overflow lot was a separate "facility" under the relevant ADA regulations, see 36 C.F.R. pt. 1191, app. B § 208.2, and that any claim regarding the overflow lot was not properly before the court.

         Because ADA regulations require four accessible parking spaces for a facility with 76 to 100 spaces, the court concluded the owners had now provided "a sufficient number of accessible parking spaces for the Restaurant," denied Davis's motion for summary judgment, and dismissed the complaint as moot. The court also denied Davis's motion to amend her complaint as futile, because Davis had never entered the restaurant and thus lacked standing to litigate alleged ADA violations occurring inside. We review the district court's legal conclusions de novo, its factual findings for clear error, and its denial of the motion for leave to amend for abuse of discretion. See Branson Label, Inc. v. City of Branson, 793 F.3d 910, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2015); Enervations, Inc. v. Minn. Mining & Mfg. Co., 380 F.3d 1066, 1068 (8th Cir. 2004).


         "A case becomes moot-and therefore no longer a 'Case' or 'Controversy' for purposes of Article III-when the issues presented are no longer 'live' or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome." Already, LLC v. Nike, Inc., 568 U.S. 85, 91 (2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). A defendant's voluntary compliance with a plaintiff's demands will moot a case if the defendant shows that "it is absolutely clear the allegedly wrongful behavior could not reasonably be expected to recur." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). In the context of the ADA, we have held that a defendant's permanent physical improvements-such as the installation of parking spaces, ramps, pull and grab bars, and chair lifts-are sufficient to eliminate a case or controversy if they provide the requested relief. S ...

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