United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
HONORABLE SARA LIOI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before this Court is the motion for judgment on the pleadings
filed by defendant Metro Regional Transit Authority
(“Metro”). (Doc. No. 50 [“Mot.”].)
Plaintiffs Spencer Neal (“Neal”) and William
Richards (“Richards”) (collectively,
“plaintiffs”) filed a brief in opposition (Doc.
No. 52 [“Opp'n”] and Metro filed a reply
brief (Doc. No. 54 [âReplyâ]). For the reasons discussed
herein, defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings
filed this action on October 16, 2018, alleging violations of
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 12131, et seq., (“ADA”) and the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 701, et
seq., (“Rehabilitation Act”). (Doc. No. 44,
Amended Complaint [“Am. Compl.”].) Plaintiffs
allege that Metro is violating the ADA by failing to provide
accessible bus stops for its fixed-route bus
system. (Am. Compl. ¶ 2.)
alleges that he is a qualified individual with a disability
under the ADA and due to his disability is substantially
impaired in several major life activities, including walking,
and requires a wheelchair for mobility. (Id.
¶¶ 12-13.) Neal cannot walk, stand, or use his legs
without assistance. (Id. ¶ 13.)
alleges that he is also a qualified individual with a
disability under the ADA and due to his disability, he is
substantially impaired in several major life activities,
including walking, and requires a wheelchair for mobility.
(Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) Richards is unable to
walk, stand, or use his legs without assistance.
(Id. ¶ 15.)
Neal and Richards allege that they commonly use Metro's
fixed-route public transportation system, including
Metro's fixed-route bus systems, buses, and bus stops.
(Id. ¶ 25.) Richards alleges that he uses
Metro's fixed-route system, buses, and bus stops several
times per day and intends to continue using Metro's
fixed-route bus service as his primary means of
transportation. (Id. ¶¶ 26-27.) Richard
also alleges that he will use Metro's fixed-route bus
service to test it for access and compliance with the ADA and
the Rehabilitation Act several times per year. (Id.
alleges that he uses Metro's fixed-route bus system,
buses, and bus stops when his vehicle is inoperable or under
repair. (Id. ¶ 29.) Neal alleges that he
intends to continue using Metro's fixed-route bus system
as his secondary means or transportation, and he also intends
to use Metro's fixed-route bus system to test it for
access and compliance with the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act
several times per year, starting in December 2018.
(Id. ¶¶ 30-31.)
their amended complaint, plaintiffs allege that while using
Metro's fixed-route bus system, plaintiffs have tried to
access bus stops and architectural features at those bus
stops but have encountered numerous barriers which hindered
plaintiffs' ability to access Metro's bus services
and utilize the programs offered at the bus stops.
(Id. ¶ 33.) Among the barriers that plaintiffs
have experienced are noncompliant features such as lack of
accessible routes to certain bus stops and inadequate or
nonexistent landing pads at certain bus stops. (Id.
¶ 34.) Plaintiffs allege that on numerous occasions they
have faced difficulty entering or disembarking from certain
buses as a result of the lack of level landing pads at
certain bus stops. (Id. ¶ 35.) As a result of
certain bus stops lacking level landing pads, plaintiffs
allege that they risk tipping out of their wheelchairs while
entering or disembarking from buses or getting to and from
certain bus stops. (Id. ¶ 36.)
their amended complaint, plaintiffs group Metro's alleged
ADA violations into two categories: (1) failure to construct
and alter bus stops in an accessible condition, and (2)
failure to provide program access at existing bus stops.
(Id. ¶ 43.) Plaintiffs provide examples of each
alleged violation. (Id. ¶ 43.)
brought the present suit seeking injunctive relief as well as
attorneys' fees and expenses, and compensatory damages
for Metro's alleged violations of the ADA and the
Rehabilitation Act. (Am. Compl. at 439-40.) Following the
filing of plaintiffs' amended complaint, Metro filed the
present motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiffs
filed an opposition, and Metro filed a reply. The matter is
now ripe for the Court's review.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Civ. P. 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are
closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move
for judgment on the pleadings.” The standard of review
for a motion for judgment on the pleadings is the same as for
a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief
under Rule 12(b)(6). JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v.
Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 581 (6th Cir. 2007).
“‘For purposes of a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, all well-pleaded material allegations of the
pleadings of the opposing party must be taken as true, and
the motion may be granted only if the moving party is
nevertheless clearly entitled to judgment.'”
Id. at 581 (quoting S. Ohio Bank v. Merrill
Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 479 F.2d 478,
480 (6th Cir. 1973)). The district court, however,
“need not accept as true legal conclusions or
unwarranted factual inferences.” Mixon v.
Ohio, 193 F.3d 389, 400 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing
Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10,
12 (6th Cir. 1987)).
survive a motion to dismiss [or judgment on the pleadings], a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). “Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555). The complaint “must contain either direct or
inferential allegations respecting all the material elements
to sustain a recovery under some viable legal
theory.” Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops,
Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988) (quotation marks
omitted). “The motion is granted when no material issue
of fact exists and the party making the motion is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Paskvan v. City of
Cleveland Civil Serv. Comm'n, 946 F.2d 1233, 1235
(6th Cir. 1991).
considering a Rule 12(c) motion, the allegations in the
complaint are the Court's primary focus. Still, the Court
may also consider “‘other materials that are
integral to the complaint, are public records, or are
otherwise appropriate for the taking of judicial
notice.'” Campbell v. Nationstar Mortg.,
611 Fed.Appx. 288, 291 (6th Cir. 2015) (quoting Ashland,
Inc. v. Oppenheimer & Co., 648 F.3d 461, 467 (6th
Cir. 2011)). The Federal Rules of Evidence permit the Court
to take judicial notice of facts that are “not subject
to reasonable dispute in that [they are] either (1) generally
known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court
or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort
to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be
questioned.” Fed.R.Evid. 201(b). “The Court may
take judicial notice on its own[.]” Fed.R.Evid.
201(c)(1). The Court may take judicial notice of a fact at
any stage of the proceedings. Livingston Christian Sch.
V. Genoa Charter Twp., 858 F.3d 996, 1008 (6th Cir.
2017) (citing Fed.R.Evid. 201, Advisory Comm. Notes (f)).
motion, Metro contends that it is entitled to judgment as to
plaintiffs' claims because (1) plaintiffs fail to show a
lack of meaningful access to Metro's transportation