Submitted: May 14, 2019
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
BENTON, WOLLMAN, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges.
Benton, Circuit Judge.
Dalton sued NPC International, Inc., seeking declaratory and
injunctive relief for alleged violations of the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12181 et
seq., and corresponding ADA Accessibility Guidelines
(ADAAG). The district court dismissed with prejudice. Having
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms
in part, reverses in part, and remands.
has cerebral palsy and requires a wheelchair for mobility. He
travels in a van with a wheelchair lift. Dalton visited the
Pizza Hut in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, in June 2017. The
customer parking lot had two parking spaces reserved for
persons with disabilities, but both lacked adjacent access
aisles extending the full length of the spaces, as required
by ADAAG 502.3.2. Two months later, Dalton sued NPC, Pizza
Hut's owner, alleging it failed to make its place of
public accommodation fully accessible to person with
disabilities. NPC corrected the access aisles the next month,
and moved to dismiss the complaint as moot.
amended the complaint to allege three additional ADA
violations: the Pizza Hut lacked two fully accessible
entrances and exits (ADAAG 206.4.1 and 207.1); no signs
identified an accessible entrance and exit (ADAAG 216.6); and
the service counter was too tall (ADAAG 227.3 and 904.4). The
district court dismissed the amended complaint with
prejudice. It concluded that Dalton's claims about the
parking lot, signage, and service-counter violations were
moot because NPC remedied the alleged violations. It rejected
Dalton's argument that-because Dalton had not
independently verified the alleged remediation-the motion to
dismiss was premature. It dismissed the inaccessible entrance
and exit claims because the relevant ADA requirements apply
only to more newly-constructed buildings, and Dalton's
allegation was "vague and conclusory" for failing
to specify which door "constitute[d] this allegedly
inaccessible entrance." This court reviews de novo
dismissals under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
and 12(b)(6). See Doe v. Nixon, 716 F.3d 1041, 1051
(8th Cir. 2013) (lack of subject-matter jurisdiction for
mooted claims); Wong v. Minnesota Dep't of Human
Servs., 820 F.3d 922, 927 (8th Cir. 2016) (failure to
state a claim).
court affirms the conclusion that the parking lot violations
are moot. "A case becomes moot-and therefore no longer a
'Case' or 'Controversy' for purposes of
Article III-'when the issues presented are no longer
"live" or the parties lack a legally cognizable
interest in the outcome.'" Already, LLC v. Nike,
Inc., 568 U.S. 85, 91 (2013), quoting Murphy v.
Hunt, 455 U.S. 478, 481 (1982) (per curiam). "A
defendant's voluntary compliance with a plaintiff's
demands will moot a case if the defendant shows that 'it
is absolutely clear the allegedly wrongful behavior could not
reasonably be expected to recur.'" Davis v.
Morris-Walker, LTD, 922 F.3d 868, 870 (8th Cir. 2019),
quoting Already, LLC, 568 U.S. at 91. Pizza Hut
voluntarily remedied the alleged parking lot violations. The
district court concluded that these remediations are
"permanent" such that "the violations are not
reasonably likely to recur." Dalton does not challenge
these conclusions about the parking lot on appeal. His
parking lot claim is moot.
Dalton lacks standing to challenge the remaining
architectural barriers, this court affirms the dismissal of
the other three claims. See Tony Alamo Christian
Ministries v. Selig, 664 F.3d 1245, 1248 (8th Cir. 2012)
("We may affirm based on any grounds supported by the
record."). The district court erroneously concluded that
Dalton has standing to challenge all of the alleged barriers.
This court reviews standing de novo. Heglund v. Aitkin
Cty., 871 F.3d 572, 577 (8th Cir. 2017).
on Steger Franco, Inc., 228 F.3d 889, 892 (8th Cir.
2000), the district court concluded that ADA plaintiffs
"need not have encountered the alleged obstacle,"
so long as they "have actual knowledge of the
barriers." In Steger, this court affirmed the
dismissal of an ADA claim for lack of standing because-when
the suit was filed-the plaintiff "had never been in the
[challenged public facility] and had no personal knowledge
whether it was accessible to him." Id. at 891.
"Although plaintiffs need not engage in the 'futile
gesture' of visiting a building containing known barriers
that the owner has no intention of remedying, they must at
least prove knowledge of the barriers and that they would
visit the building in the imminent future but for those
barriers." Id. at 892, quoting 42
U.S.C. § 12188(a)(1).
lack of knowledge precludes standing, mere knowledge of
barriers does not create standing. In Davis v. Anthony,
Inc., 886 F.3d 674 (8th Cir. 2018) (Davis I),
Melanie Davis, a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, sued a
restaurant alleging ADA violations in the parking lot.
Id. at 676. The district court dismissed the case as
moot after the restaurant remedied the alleged violations.
Id. Davis argued that the district court prematurely
dismissed before allowing discovery about other possible ADA
violations at the restaurant. See id. at 677-78.
This court held that Davis lacked standing to challenge other
possible ADA violations: "Davis cannot use the violation
encountered in the parking space to expand her standing to
sue for unencountered violations inside the [restaurant] that
never injured her." Id. at 678.
the same plaintiff sued a different restaurant alleging ADA
violations in its parking lot. Davis, 922 F.3d at
869 (Davis II). She parked in the restaurant's
main parking lot and alleged violations in the overflow lot.
Id. She argued that Davis I did not control
because here, she had detailed knowledge of the ADA
violations. Id. at 871. This court rejected that
argument, explaining that the prior decision "was not
premised on the plaintiff's level of knowledge about
alleged violations or her interests in making a future entry;
it turned on whether the plaintiff had suffered injury by
encountering a violation inside the restaurant."
Id. at 872. "A plaintiff who encounters an
alleged violation in a parking lot outside a building does
not have standing to sue over violations inside the
building." Id. at 871. Davis lacked standing
"to sue over violations inside a building that she never
entered." Id. at 872.
Dalton lacks standing to sue over building violations when he
never entered it. He has no standing to challenge the
accessibility of Pizza Hut's entrances and exits, the
signage, and the service counter height because he did not
suffer injury by encountering these violations.
district court erred by dismissing with prejudice. A
dismissal for lack of standing is a dismissal for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction. Carlsen v. GameStop,
Inc., 833 F.3d 903, 908 (8th Cir. 2016). "A
district court is generally barred from dismissing a case
with prejudice if it concludes subject matter jurisdiction is
absent." County of Mille Lacs v. Benjamin, 361
F.3d 460, 464-65 (8th Cir. 2004) (reversing portion of
judgment dismissing with prejudice on jurisdictional grounds
and directing district court to enter judgment without
prejudice). See also Hart v. United ...