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Marasek v. 206 Courthouse Lane LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 30, 2019

Joan Marasek, Plaintiff,
v.
206 Courthouse Lane, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PETER G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D.J.

         This matter comes before the Court on two motions to dismiss: one filed by Defendant Ocean County (ECF No. 44) and another filed by Defendants State of New Jersey; Superior Court of New Jersey; Superior Court of New Jersey, Ocean Vicinage, Chancery Division (ECF No. 50)[1]. Plaintiff has also filed a cross-motion for sanctions and for denial of Defendants' motions. (ECF No. 72). In addition, Plaintiff has filed what she calls an "emergent bifurcated application seeking to correct the record pursuant to Plaintiffs pleading filed with the Court on May 31, 2019. (Plaintiffs Motion to Correct the Record, ECF No. 83 at 1).

         Facts

         According to the allegations in Plaintiffs amended complaint, "on November 30, 2016, Plaintiff arrived at the State's courthouse in Toms River, New Jersey." (Amended Complain ("AC"), ECF No. 32 at 9). As Plaintiff approached the courthouse, her "mobility scooter flipped over and Plaintiff shattered her ankle." (Id.).

         Plaintiff alleges that the incident was caused because there are no accessible handicap parking spaces in close proximity to the subject courthouse. (Id.). However, she also alleges that "the uneven and broken sidewalks impaired access to the courthouse entrance." (Id.). There is a parking lot adjacent to the courthouse, but it is privately owned. (Id. at 10).

         Further, Plaintiff alleges that "the only parking spaces in close proximity to the [c]ourthouse are those 'reserved' and 'assigned' to .. . attorneys." (Id. at 11). "The public parking lot is relatively far from the [c]ourthouse entrance." (Id. at 13). Plaintiff claims the courthouse has "an unreasonably dangerous and unsafe condition for the handicapped." (Id.).

         Plaintiff claims she underwent surgery because of the accident, which left her "bed-ridden and wheelchair bound." (Id. at 9). She allegedly suffers from "severe osteoarthritis" and is in constant pain. (Id.). Plaintiff claims she has incurred medical bills "for acute care physical rehabilitation, rental of special handicap van vehicles, as well as purchasing wheelchairs, ramps, and related disability devices." (Id. at 13). As such, she says she "urgently requires handicap housing" and "a special handicap accessible wheelchair van." (Id.).

         Plaintiffs eleven-count complaint alleges: violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1281, et seq. (count one); discrimination on the basis of disability, in violation of the ADA (count two); "range of defendants' violations of the ADA" (count three); breach of fiduciary duty (count four); negligence (count five); civil conspiracy/aiding and abetting (count six); unconscionability (count seven); federal statutory protection of access to state, local, and federal courts (count eight); federal ADA access to the courts (count nine); federal statutory protection of access to state, local, and federal courts (count ten); and the United States Department of Justice implementation of Title II of the ADA (count eleven).

         Legal Analysis

         On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court is required to accept as true all allegations in the Complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and to view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 (3d Cir. 1994). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Asheroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). While a court will accept well-pleaded allegations as true for the purposes of the motion, it will not accept bald assertions, unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; see also Morse v. Lower Merion School District, 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997). A complaint should be dismissed only if the well-pleaded alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim. See In re Warfarin Sodium, 214 F.3d 395, 397-98 (3d Cir. 2000).

         Where, as here, plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court should read plaintiffs complaint generously and hold it "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). However, "a pro se plaintiff is not exempt from his burden of providing some affirmative evidence, i.e. not just mere allegations, to establish a prima facie case, and to show that there is a genuine dispute for trial." Niblack v. Murray, No. 12-6910, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99325, at *7 (D.N.J. July 29, 2016) (citing Barnett v. N.J. Transit Corp., 573 Fed.Appx. 239, 243 (3d Cir. 2014)).

         ADA Title II

         "To successfully state a claim under Title II of the ADA, a person 'must demonstrate: (1) he is a qualified individual; (2) with a disability; (3) [who] was excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or was subjected to discrimination by any such entity; (4) by reason of his disability.'" Haberle v. Troxell, 885 F.3d 170, 178 (3d Cir. 2018) (quoting Bowers v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass 'n, 475 F.3d 524, 553 n.32 (3d Cir. 2007)). "[T]he ADA prohibits discrimination against an individual 'by reason of such disability.'" New Directions Treatment Servs. v. City of Reading, 490 F.3d 293, 300 n.4 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 12132). The ADA requires "but for causation." Id.

         Fatal to Plaintiffs complaint is her failure to allege that Defendants' actions were the cause of her injury. Plaintiffs complaint states that the cause of the alleged incident was "broken curbs, cracked pavement, and irregular and uneven . . . pavement, among other things." (AC at 2). Although Plaintiff alleges the lack of handicap access to the courthouse or the location of the handicap parking spaces caused the incident, (See Id. at ...


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