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Doud v. Yellow Cab Co. of Reno, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

August 28, 2014

JAMES DOUD and MELODIE DOUD Plaintiffs,
v.
YELLOW CAB COMPANY OF RENO, INC. Defendant.

ORDER (Motion for Preliminary Injunction - dkt. no. 9)

MIRANDA M. DU, District Judge.

I. SUMMARY

Before the Court is a Motion for Preliminary Injunction ("PI Motion") filed by Plaintiffs James Doud and Melodie Doud ("the Douds") (dkt. no. 9). The Court has also reviewed Defendant's opposition (dkt. no. 22) and the Douds' reply (dkt no. 25). For the following reasons, the PI Motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

This case arises under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12184. Melodie Doud is an amputee who uses a motorized scooter for mobility. (Dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 3 ¶ 1.) She and her husband, James Doud, allege that Defendant Yellow Cab Company of Reno, Inc. ("Yellow") violated the ADA by refusing to transport them in a standard taxi because Mrs. Doud uses a motorized scooter.[1] (Dkt. no. 9 at 18.)

The Douds allege that Yellow refused them service from Reno-Tahoe International Airport ("Reno Airport") on April 9, 2013, and May 19, 2013. (Dkt. no. 9 at 3, 5-6, 7-9.) On both occasions, Mrs. Doud used her motorized scooter, and the couple traveled with their two service dogs. ( Id. at 5, 7.) Mrs. Doud's motorized scooter breaks down into five pieces, the heaviest of which weighs fifty pounds. (Dkt. no. 25-1; dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 3 ¶ 5.) Except for the service refusals at issue, the Douds have never had trouble using taxis that are not wheelchair-adapted ("standard taxis") while traveling with the scooter or the dogs. (Dkt. no. 9 at 5; dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 3 ¶ 3, Exh. 4 ¶ 5.) Mrs. Doud's motorized scooter, when disassembled, fits in the trunk of a standard taxi. (Dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 3 ¶ 2.)

During the incident in April 2013 ("First Incident"), two Yellow taxis - and a third from a different company - refused to pick the Douds up from Reno Airport's taxi line. (Dkt. no. 25-3 at 31:20-24, 32:8-10, 33:18-22; dkt. no. 25-4 at 69:1-7.)[2] As the Douds arrived at the airport taxi line, the first available taxi was a Yellow taxi driven by Mohammed Parvez ("Yellow 132"). (Dkt. no. 9-2, Exh. 2 ¶ 8; dkt. no. 25-4 at 73:5-7.) Mr. Doud approached Yellow 132, but Mr. Parvez insisted that he could not transport the Douds because his taxi was not equipped to transport people with physical disabilities. (Dkt. no. 25-4 at 73:23-74:1.) Next, Mr. Doud approached the second taxi in line, which was another Yellow taxi driven by a different driver. (Dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 4 ¶ 10.) This driver also refused to serve the Douds because, allegedly, his religious beliefs forbade him from transporting their service animals. (Dkt. no. 25-3 at 32:8-10.) Mr. Doud then approached the third taxi in line, which was a Whittlesea taxi. ( Id. at 33:18-19.) The Whittlesea driver also refused to serve the Douds. ( Id. ) After this third refusal, Mr. Doud flagged down a nearby airport police vehicle. (Dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 4 ¶ 12.) One of the police officers approached a fourth taxi, which agreed to transport the Douds. ( Id .) The fourth taxi was a Yellow taxi, but the Douds did not identify its driver or its number. (Dkt. no. 25-3 at 33:20-22.) In all, the Douds allege that they waited 45 minutes before they were able to secure a standard taxi during the First Incident. (Dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 3 ¶ 14, Exh. 4 ¶ 13.) They describe this experience as disgusting and humiliating. (Id .)

The Douds experienced a similar service refusal at Reno Airport on May 19, 2013 ("Second Incident"). (Dkt. no. 25-3 at 33:23-34:8; dkt. no. 25-4 at 58:1-20.) When the Douds reached the airport taxi line, the only available taxi was Yellow 132, one of the taxis they encountered during the First Incident. (Dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 3 ¶¶ 19-22.) Mr. Parvez, a driver involved in the First Incident, drove Yellow 132. (Dkt. no. 25-4 at 73:22-74:21.) Mr. Parvez refused to transport the Douds, telling Mrs. Doud that it was "against the law" to take them, despite her assurance that her scooter would fit in his taxi.[3] (Dkt. no. 25-4 at 58:13-20, 60:1-6, 74:8-9.) Mr. Doud then called Mukesh Sharma, a Yellow driver who serves as a "Road Supervisor" for the company. (Dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 4 ¶ 23; dkt. no. 25-5 at 84:7-10.) He agreed to pick up the Douds. Next, Mr. Doud called the airport parking authority and the airport police. (Dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 4 ¶ 23.) Although the airport police called a taxi capable of transporting the scooter intact, the Douds chose to ride in Mr. Sharma's standard taxi.[4] (Dkt. no. 25-4 at 59.)

After the Second Incident, Mr. Doud relocated from Reno to Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 4 ¶ 7.) Mrs. Doud lives primarily in Ontario, Canada. ( Id .) The Douds assert that they plan to return to Reno regularly because they own property in Reno, and because they have family and friends in the area. ( Id. , Exh. 3 ¶ 8.) Upon returning to Reno, the Douds plan to fly into Reno Airport, and they hope to use standard taxis when they arrive. (Dkt. no. 9-2, Exh. 2 ¶ 7, Exh. 3 ¶ 6.) Because Yellow is a primary provider of taxis at Reno Airport, the Douds fear future service refusals when they return to the area. ( Id. , Exh. 3 ¶¶ 6-7.) These refusals are "humiliating, discouraging, demoralizing, and maddening" for the Douds. (Dkt. no. 25-7, Exh. 3 ¶ 8.)

The Douds seek a preliminary injunction to stop Yellow from refusing them service in the company's standard taxis. (Dkt. no. 9 at 21; dkt. no. 25 at 2.) The Douds ask the Court to require Yellow to "incorporate[] into [its] training that drivers must not prohibit Mrs. Doud from riding in its ordinary taxis." (Dkt. no. 25 at 3.) Through this preliminary injunction, the Douds seek "the equal enjoyment of Yellow Cab's taxi services on the same terms and conditions as any other passenger." (Dkt. no. 9 at 21.)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

"A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right." Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council , 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). When seeking a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must, " by a clear showing , carr[y] the burden of persuasion.'" Lopez v. Brewer , 680 F.3d 1068, 1072 (9th Cir. 2012) ( quoting Mazurek v. Armstrong , 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997) (per curiam)). Additionally, a plaintiff "must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter , 555 U.S. at 20. The trial court has discretion in deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction. Sierra On-Line, Inc. v. Phoenix Software, Inc. , 739 F.2d 1415, 1421 (9th Cir. 1984).

IV. ANALYSIS

The Douds seek a preliminary injunction that stops Yellow from refusing to transport them. (Dkt. no. 9 at 21.) The Douds contend that Yellow violated Title III of the ADA, which protects individuals with disabilities and individuals associated with them from discrimination by private entities offering public transportation, along ...


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