United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Chelsey M. Vascura Magistrate Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER
A. SARGUS, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss
(ECF No. 8) filed by Defendants Ashford Columbus Easton LP,
Ashford Columbus Easton GP LLC, and Hilton Worldwide
Holdings, Inc. (collectively "Defendants").
Plaintiff Justin Romanowich ("Romanowich") filed a
Response (ECF No. 16), and Defendants filed a
Reply (ECF No. 17). For the reasons set forth below,
the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss. (ECF No. 8.)
August 23, 2018, Romanowich checked in for an 11-day stay at
the front desk of the Hampton Inn & Suites, located at
4150 Stelzer Road in Columbus, Ohio. (Pl.'s Compl. at
¶ 7 [ECF No. 5].) While checking in, Romanowich spoke to
both managers on duty and arranged for his own baptism in the
hotel pool, which they scheduled for September 1, 2018 at
7:00 p.m. (Id. at ¶ 8.) According to
Romanowich, as employees and staff of the hotel learned about
his ceremony they shared genuine excitement. (Id. at
¶ 10.) In Romanowich's view, "[e]verything was
going swimmingly" and Defendants provided "[g]reat
to OUTSTANDING service" to him. (Id., Ex. A.)
September 1, 2018, the morning of Romanowich's scheduled
baptism, the hotel's General Manager informed Romanowich
that the ceremony was cancelled because it violated
Defendants' Company Policy. (Id. at ¶ 13.)
Romanowich alleges Defendants discriminated against him due
to his religion, in violation of Ohio law. He asserts that
Defendants regularly allow weddings and other religious
ceremonies on their properties. (Id. at ¶ 18.)
Romanowich alleges that the General Manager cancelled the
baptism in a "most unpleasant and absurd solitary
conversation," which occurred "within feet of the
front desk" and "in full view and earshot" of
employees and guests. (Id. at ¶ 15, Ex. A.)
February 20, 2019, Romanowich filed suit against Defendants
in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. Defendants
removed the case to this Court on March 25, 2019.
(See ECF No. 1.) Romanowich alleges Defendants
unlawfully discriminated against him in violation of Ohio
Revised Code Section 4112(G). On April 22, 2019, Defendants
moved this Court to dismiss for failing to state a claim. The
matter is ripe for review.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court may
dismiss a cause of action for "failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted." Such a motion
"is a test of the plaintiffs cause of action as stated
in the complaint, not a challenge to the plaintiffs factual
allegations." Golden v. City of Columbus, 404
F.3d 950, 958-59 (6th Or. 2005). Therefore, the Court must
construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc. v.
Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434
(6th Cir. 2008). The Court is not required, however, to
accept as true mere legal conclusions unsupported by factual
allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). Generally, a complaint must contain a "short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Plaintiff
need not allege detailed facts but must "give the
defendant fair notice of what the claim is, and the grounds
upon which it rests." Nader v. Blackwell, 545
F.3d 459, 470 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)). In short, a
complaint's factual allegations "must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level."
Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
It must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.
Revised Code Section 4112.02(G) governs religious
discrimination and states, in relevant part:
It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice ... [I]or any
proprietor or any employee, keeper, or manager of a place of
public accommodation to deny to any person, except for
reasons applicable alike to all persons regardless of...
religion ..., the full enjoyment of the accommodations,