Amber Gilles, the anti-masker and “Starbucks-shamer,” sued Sprouts last October after being denied entry for not wearing a mask. On Monday, a federal judge threw out her complaint.
Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel agreed with lawyers for defendant SF Markets LLC that Gilles, 36, listed no valid causes of action. She argued that last Aug. 6 her rights were violated under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.
“The Complaint explicitly alleges that Plaintiff was denied entry for not wearing a mask, despite Plaintiff describing her medical conditions to the store employee,” Curiel wrote. “But it says nothing about Plaintiff describing her medical condition that prevented her from wearing a face shield.”
The Clairemont Sprouts would have let her shop had she worn such a shield. (It also would have provided a personal shopper, curbside pickup or online-ordered delivery.)
As long as the Sprouts staffer conducted an “individualized assessment” of whether Gilles posed a direct health threat, “denying that individual from the store’s premises does not constitute discrimination under the ADA,” Curiel wrote in a 14-page order.
Sprouts lawyers also sought to get the case dismissed by noting that she didn’t formally notify the Phoenix-based grocer of it being sued until 20 days after the 90-day deadline.
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But Curiel cut Gilles some slack.
“To the extent that the Court can exercise its broad discretion to extend time for service, the Court does so since Defendant was actually noticed and eventually served,” he said.
Curiel tossed two elements of the Gilles suit with prejudice — meaning she can’t sue Sprouts again with those arguments. But the San Diego-based federal judge said Gilles could refile the suit.
She has until June 23 to file an amended complaint “limited to curing any deficiencies relating to the First Cause of Action,” dealing with the ADA.
“Specifically, [Gilles] has failed to allege that she was incapable of wearing a face shield,” Curiel wrote of the Clairemont mother of three.
Gilles, who also opposes vaccinations, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did her lawyer — former California GOP vice chair Steven Douglas Baric of Newport Beach — or attorneys for Sprouts.
A day after Gilles was denied entry, Sprouts posted a video in which CEO Jack Sinclair thanked his employees for their commitment, energy, service, character and resiliency.
“Our team has been elevated in the eyes of the communities we serve — being treated as heroes… because that’s exactly what we are,” he said.
A web page devoted to “shoutouts” for Sprouts on its COVID handling included a quote: “The San Diego Clairemont team is a great crew. They’re working long hours, but they always have a smile for their customers.”
Sprouts grew out of Henry Boney’s La Mesa fruit stand in 1943, eventually becoming Henry’s Farmers Market and merging with Sprouts and Sun Harvest. The chain has more than 340 stores, mostly in California.
As of Monday, according to a Sprouts website, five stores had at least one team member testing positive and been in the store within the past seven days. None were in San Diego County.