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Smith v. Boyfield, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Utah, Northern Division

October 23, 2017

G. BRENT SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
BOYFIELD, INC., a Utah corporation, d.b.a. ITALIAN VILLAGE, LOUIS BOYER, and JOHN DOES I-V, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DALE A. KIMBALL, United States District Judge

         This matter is before the court on Defendant Louis Boyer's (Boyer) Motion to Dismiss. Boyer filed the motion seeking to dismiss the claims against him in his individual capacity. On September 27, 2017, the court held a hearing on the motion. At the hearing, the Plaintiff G. Brent Smith (Smith) was represented by Jordan D. Haycock and Boyer was represented by Brian R. Barnhill. The court took the motion under advisement. Based on the briefing filed by the parties and the law and facts relevant to the pending motion, the court issues the following Memorandum Decision and Order GRANTING in part and DENYING in part Louis Boyer's Motion to Dismiss.

         BACKGROUND

         Smith previously underwent lap-band surgery. Because of the surgery Smith has trouble properly eating and digesting food. Often times Smith will regurgitate his food during or soon after eating.

         On June 21, 2017, Smith, as he often does, began regurgitating his food while eating alone at the Italian Village restaurant. The waiter noticed him frequently regurgitating his food in the view of other patrons and raised her concerns that other patrons were noticing. The waitress asked Smith to regurgitate his food in the bathroom. Smith asserts that the waitress made an unnecessarily loud spectacle out of the ordeal in an attempt to embarrass him.

         Smith asked to speak to the waitress' manager about his health problems. The waitress told Smith that she was acting under the manager's orders. Smith asserts that the manager refused to speak to him and ordered an employee to ask him to leave.

         Smith claims that his issue with properly eating and digesting food constitutes a disability under the ADA. Smith filed suit alleging that: 1. Defendants unlawfully discriminated against him because of his disability; 2. Defendants retaliated against Smith by kicking him out of the restaurant after he informed the staff about his disability; and 3. Italian Village is liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress because they embarrassed him in front of other customers.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Dismissal is appropriate under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when the complaint, standing alone, is legally insufficient to state a claim on which relief may be granted. Sutton v. Utah State Sch. For the Deaf & Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236 (10th Cir. 1999). When considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, all well-pleaded facts are presumed to be true, but conclusory allegations need not be considered. Cory v. Allstate Ins., 583 F.3d 1240, 1244 (10th Cir. 2009).

         DISCUSSION

         Boyer's motion to dismiss seeks to dismiss the claims against Boyer in his individual capacity. Boyer is an owner of the Italian Village restaurant, however, according to the complaint the only action he allegedly took was ordering a restaurant employee to ask Smith to leave. Boyer argues that dismissal is appropriate because: 1. Title III of the ADA only allows for a cause of action against an entity and not against an owner of an entity; 2. Smith fails to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Boyer in his individual capacity; and 3. Boyer is entitled to attorneys' fees. For the reasons that follow, the court grants in part and denies in part the defendant's motion to dismiss.

         1. Title III of the ADA Allows for a Claim Against an Individual If That Individual is the Owner of the Entity.

         Boyer asserts that the plain language of Title III of the ADA only provides for a cause of action against an entity and not an individual. Specifically, 42 U.S.C. § 12182 provides as follows:

(a) General Rule. No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases ...

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