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Blue v. United Way of Cumberland County

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

August 19, 2014

JACKIE BLUE, individually and NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR ACCESSIBILITY, INC., a Florida not for profit corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED WAY OF CUMBERLAND COUNTY, a domestic corporation, Defendant

For Jackie Blue, Individually, Plaintiff: Christopher D. Lane, Clemmons, NC.

For United Way of Cumberland County, a Domestic corporation, Defendant: Jose A. Coker, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Charleston Group, Fayetteville, NC.

ORDER

JAMES C. FOX, Senior United States District Judge.

This matter is before the court on United Way's motion to dismiss [DE-15]. For the reasons that follow, the motion is DENIED.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Jackie Blue (" Blue" )[1] alleges that she is a qualified individual with a

Page 471

disability within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12181 et seq. Blue suffers from multiple sclerosis and she is confined to a wheelchair. She resides within four miles of the United Way of Cumberland County (" United Way" ), which is located in Fayetteville, N.C.

The United Way offers a variety of public community meetings. Blue alleges that she has visited these meetings in the past and intends to return for future meetings with approximately the same frequency. Blue further alleges that she has encountered a number of ADA violations at the property that prevent her from fully accessing and enjoying the property. The ADA violations Blue alleges that she personally encountered include: an inability to access certain portions of the restroom using her wheelchair, dangerous exposed pipes in the restroom, the inability to reach certain dispensers and transfer bars, and her inability to reach certain counters. Blue also states that she does not have an accessible path from the parking lot to the building.

DISCUSSION

A. Standing

United Way moves to dismiss Blue's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Rule 12 states that " [i]f the court determines at any time that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). Rule 12(b)(1) challenges to the court's subject matter jurisdiction can take one of two forms: (1) an argument that the complaint's allegations, taken as true, do not support subject matter jurisdiction (a " facial challenge" to jurisdiction); or (2) an argument that the jurisdictional allegations in the complaint are not true. Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). Although United Way does not specify the form of its Rule 12(b)(1) argument, it is clear from its briefing that it launches a facial challenge to the court's jurisdiction. In such a case, the plaintiff is afforded " the same procedural protection as [s]he would receive under a Rule 12(b)(6) consideration." Id. at 192; Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). That is, " the facts alleged in the complaint are taken as true, and the motion must be denied if the complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke subject matter jurisdiction." Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192.

United Way argues Blue lacks standing to bring this lawsuit under Article III of the United States Constitution, thus depriving the court of subject matter jurisdiction. Article III standing doctrine tests whether a plaintiff has " 'such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to warrant [her] invocation of federal court jurisdiction and to justify exercise of the court's remedial powers on her behalf.'" White Tail Park, Inc. v. Stroube, 413 F.3d 451, 458 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Planned Parenthood of S.C. v. Rose, 361 F.3d 786, 789 (4th Cir. 2004)). The plaintiff has the burden of demonstrating three elements to satisfy standing: (1) an injury in fact that is " concrete and particularized" and " actual or imminent" ; (2) the injury must be fairly traceable to the challenged conduct; and (3) a favorable decision must be likely to redress the injury. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992); Friends of the ...


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