Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hintz v. May and Company, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

June 18, 2018

MICHAEL HINTZ and JARVIS JERNIGAN, JR. PLAINTIFFS
v.
MAY AND COMPANY, INC. d/b/a VETERANS CAB TAXI SERVICES DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION [17] FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT is the Motion [17] for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiffs Michael Hintz and Jarvis Jernigan, Jr. Plaintiffs are two friends who have both been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (“MS”). On three separate instances, Plaintiffs sought to use the wheelchair accessible services of Defendant May and Company, Inc., doing business as Veterans Cab Taxi Services (“Veterans Cab”). Plaintiffs allege that Veterans Cab denied them the full and equal enjoyment of its services and failed to make reasonable modifications to their policies and practices to accommodate Plaintiffs, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and Mississippi's deceptive advertising law, section 97-23-3 of the Mississippi Code.

         Plaintiffs now move for partial summary judgment on their ADA claims and the merits of their claim for deceptive advertising, reserving for trial the amount of damages on the second claim. The Motion has been fully briefed. Based upon its review of the record and relevant legal authority, the Court finds that Plaintiffs' Motion should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         1. The Parties

         Plaintiff Michael Hintz was diagnosed with MS in February 2003. Hintz Aff. [17-1] ¶ 3. Hintz attests that he is substantially impaired in several major life activities such as walking and standing, id., and thus relies on a wheelchair for mobility, id. Plaintiff Jarvis Jernigan, Jr., is friends with Hintz. Id. The two met through the National MS Society. Id. Jernigan was diagnosed with MS in February 1996, Jernigan Aff. [17-2] ¶ 3, and like Hintz, he suffers from substantial impairment in activities including walking and standing, id. Jernigan relies on a powered wheelchair or scooter for mobility. Id. Hintz and Jernigan do not drive, but rely on public and private transportation services, and sometimes obtain transportation from friends or family. Id. ¶ 6; Hintz Aff. [17-1] ¶ 5.

         Veterans Cab is a small business operating in Jackson, Mississippi, that offers taxi services for both impaired and unimpaired individuals. Mayo Aff. [22-1] ¶ 3. Veterans Cab has a fleet of five vehicles, Mayo Aff. [22-1] ¶ 3, one of which is a wheelchair accessible van. Id. The drivers for Veterans Cab are independent contractors who each set their own schedule and decide when and if they are able to respond to a call. Id. Veterans Cab contracts with four drivers, Def.'s Resp. to Pls.' First Set of Interrogs. [17-3] at 2, and currently has two drivers who are trained to operate the wheelchair accessible van, Def.'s Mem. [23] at 1.

         Veterans Cab attests that although the business is open 24 hours a day, there are times when service is not available, or when there may be a delay in pick up, whether the customer is impaired or not. Mayo Aff. [22-1] ¶ 3. Veterans Cab further asserts that it does not have the capacity to have a cab ready to pick up a customer at a moment's notice. Id. ¶ 8. Because Veterans Cab is not a contracted provider for pick up services at the Jackson Airport, it only services the Jackson Airport by appointment. Id. ¶ 6. Because a driver must request and pay for a badge in order to pick up from the Jackson Airport, id. ¶ 4, not every driver obtains one due to the expense involved, id.

         2. March 11, 2016 Incident Involving Jernigan

         Jernigan alleges that on or about March 11, 2016, he called Veterans Cab to place a reservation for an accessible taxi to drive him to the Jackson Airport in the early morning of March 14, 2016. Jernigan Aff. [17-2] ¶ 8. Jernigan states that he had seen Veterans Cab's advertisement that it offered 24-hour accessible transportation services, id., and alleges that a Veterans Cab dispatcher informed him that it had only one wheelchair accessible vehicle, only one driver for that vehicle, and that the driver was not available in the early morning of March 14, 2016, to take Jernigan to the airport, id. ¶ 9. Veterans Cab attests that at the time of this March 11, 2016 call, the wheelchair van was not available to anyone, whether impaired or unimpaired, at that time of the morning for a trip to the Jackson Airport. Mayo Aff. [22-1] ¶ 5.

         3. January 15, 2017 Incident Involving Both Plaintiffs

         In January 2017, Hintz and Jernigan traveled out of state and returned to Jackson on January 15, 2017, arriving at the Jackson Airport at approximately 3:30 p.m. Jernigan Aff. [17-2] ¶ 11. Jernigan saw several taxis at the airport, but none were wheelchair accessible. Id. Jernigan alleges that an airport administrator called Veterans Cab at approximately 4:35 p.m. to reserve an accessible taxi for Hintz and Jernigan, id., but that he was told that the Veterans Cab accessible taxi would not arrive at the airport until at least 5:30 p.m., id. At around 5:45 p.m., Plaintiffs learned that the Veterans Cab accessible taxi could not arrive at the airport until 6:30 p.m. Id. Plaintiffs then made alternative arrangements for transportation. Id.

         Veterans Cab attests that during this call, all of its cabs were busy on other routes, Mayo Aff. [22-1] ¶ 6, and that once a driver was able to finish the other calls, a driver would have been able to pick up Plaintiffs from the Jackson Airport, id. According to Veterans Cab, this would have been the same situation had an unimpaired individual called for service at that time, but Plaintiffs did not want to wait. Id.

         4. May 14, 2017 Incident Involving Hintz

         On May 14, 2017, Hintz called Veterans Cab at approximately 5:30 p.m. to request an accessible taxi to drive him home from the hospital. Hintz Aff. [17-1] ¶ 8. Hintz alleges that he was initially told by the dispatcher that a driver was not available for the accessible taxi, though the dispatcher called him back a few minutes later to advise that it would be at least 30 minutes before the accessible taxi could pick him up. Id. Hintz believed that such wait time was unreasonable, and made alternative transportation arrangements. Id.

         Veterans Cab contends that during the May 14, 2017 call, all cabs were busy on other routes, Mayo Aff. [22-1] ¶ 7, and that once a driver was able to finish the other calls, a driver could have picked up Hintz from the hospital, id. Veterans Cab maintains that this would have been the same situation had an unimpaired individual called for service at that time. Id.

         B. Procedural History

         On June 7, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint [1] in this Court against Veterans Cab, asserting that based upon the incidents of January 15, 2017, and May 14, 2017, Veterans Cab violated the ADA because Plaintiffs were denied the full and equal enjoyment of Veterans Cab's transportation services. Compl. [1] at 5-6. Plaintiffs allege that Veterans Cab treated Plaintiffs differently than other individuals in its response times and hours and days of service, id. at 7, and that Veterans Cab violated the ADA by failing to make reasonable modifications in its procedures to afford services to individuals with disabilities, such as failing to employ an adequate number of drivers capable of driving the van during all hours of operation, id. at 6-7.

         Count II of the Complaint advances a claim for violation of Mississippi's deceptive advertising law, section 97-23-3 of the Mississippi Code. Compl. [1] at 8-9. The Complaint alleges that when Jernigan called Veterans Cab on March 11, 2016, to reserve an accessible van, he did so in reliance on the company's representations on its website regarding the availability of its accessible taxi services. Id. at 8-9.

         The Complaint seeks an injunction declaring that Veterans Cab is violating the ADA and ordering Veterans Cab to modify its policies and procedures to bring them within compliance of the ADA. Id. at 9-10. Plaintiffs also pray for attorneys' fees and damages on behalf of Jernigan for Veterans Cab's deceptive advertising practices. Id. at 10.

         On March 22, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a Motion [17] for Partial Summary Judgment[1] that Veterans Cab is in violation of the ADA by denying wheelchair users the full and equal enjoyment of its public transportation services. Mot. [17] at 1; Pls.' Mem. [18] at 17-18. Plaintiffs contend that on March 11, 2016, Jernigan was denied service on the basis of his disability when service would have been provided to an able-bodied customer.[2] Pls.' Mem. [18] at 17. Plaintiffs further argue that they were offered a disparate level of service on January 15, 2017, and May 14, 2017, by having to endure longer and unreasonable wait times for service. Id. at 17-18. Plaintiffs also request summary judgment that Veterans Cab is in violation of the ADA by failing to make reasonable modifications to its ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.