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Hillesheim v. O. J.'S Cafe, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

December 13, 2018

ZACH HILLESHEIM, Plaintiff,
v.
O. J.'S CAFE, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Laurie Smith Camp Senior United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion in Limine, ECF No. 72, and the Defendant's Motion for Clarification or Amendment of Prior Order, ECF No. 76. For the reasons stated below, the Motion in Limine will be denied, without prejudice to the Defendant's objections at trial; and the Motion seeking clarification of the Court's Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 67, will be granted in accordance with this Memorandum and Order, and Defendant's request for amendment is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         On November 14, 2018, the Court entered a Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 67, on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. The Memorandum and Order granted, in part, the Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 34, filed by Defendant O.J.'s Cafe, Inc. (“O.J.'s Cafe”), and denied Plaintiff Zachary Hillesheim's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 39.

         On December 7, 2018, O.J.'s Cafe filed an Motion for Clarification or Amendment of Prior Order, ECF No. 76, asking the Court to clarify that the Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 67, does not limit the legal defenses and factual evidence it may present at trial on Hillesheim's claim that O.J.'s Cafe violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (”ADA”). It is Hillesheim's position that the Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 67, resolved certain issues in Hillesheim's favor and the only unresolved issue is whether it is feasible for O.J.'s Cafe to install a parking space and adjoining access aisle that is sufficiently flat. Order on Final Pretrial Conference, ECF No. 75, Page ID 602. The Court will clarify, below, why the Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 67 does not limit the legal defenses and factual evidence O.J.'s Cafe may present at trial. The Court is issuing this Memorandum and Order without awaiting the usual response time, to allow Hillesheim sufficient opportunity to prepare for trial accordingly.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standing

         Under the Article III case-or-controversy requirement, a plaintiff must establish standing as an “indispensable part of the plaintiff's case.” Lujan v. Defs. Of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). Each of the elements of standing “must be supported in the same way as any other matter on which the plaintiff bears the burden of proof, i.e., with the manner and degree of evidence required at the successive stages of the litigation.” Id. Nothing in the Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 67, relieves Hillesheim from adducing evidence at trial to demonstrate his standing to bring his ADA claim. Likewise, nothing in the Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 67, precludes O.J.'s Cafe from challenging Hillesheim's standing at trial.

         II. ADA Claim

         “An ADA discrimination claim ‘requires that a plaintiff establish that (1) he or she is disabled within the meaning of the ADA; (2) that the defendants own, lease, or operate a place of public accommodation; and (3) that the defendants discriminated against the plaintiff within the meaning of the ADA.'” Hillesheim v. Myron's Cards and Gifts, Inc., 897 F.3d 953, 956 (8th Cir. 2018) (quoting Roberts v. Royal Atl. Corp., 542 F.3d 363, 368 (2d Cir. 2008)). At trial Hillesheim will be required to prove each element of his prima facie case of ADA discrimination[1] and any subparts of each element, including that an alteration to the property has occurred if Hillesheim pursues his claim that O.J.'s Cafe discriminated against him as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 12183(a)(2).[2] The Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 67, analyzed the facts deemed undisputed for the purpose of Hillesheim's Motion to provide the parties with guidance and an explanation of the Court's ultimate denial of Hillesheim's Motion. The Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 67, did not constitute a determination of any facts or issues for purposes of trial in this case, except as specifically stated with respect to the partial grant of O.J.'s Cafe's Motion for Summary Judgment on the issue of mootness.

         III. Affirmative Defenses

         As stated above, this Court denied Hillesheim's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 39. Therefore, nothing in the Memorandum and Order, ECF No. 67, precludes O.J.'s Cafe from raising any applicable affirmative defenses at the time of trial.

         IV. Motion in Limine

         This matter is scheduled for bench trial, commencing December 18, 2018. In its Motion in Limine, the Defendant asks the Court to rule on the admissibility of a variety of evidence that may or may not be offered at trial. Because there is no risk of inadmissible or unfairly prejudicial evidence tainting a jury's deliberative process, the Court will deny the ...


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