United States of America v. Gumbaytay et al

Filing 108

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that Gumbaytay's 99 MOTION to Dismiss is DENIED; that Gumbaytay's 99 MOTION for Summary Judgment is DENIED. Signed by Hon. Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller on 11/23/2009. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist)(cc, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION U N IT E D STATES OF AMERICA, P la in tif f , v. J A M A R L O K. GUMBAYTAY, et al., D e f e n d a n ts . ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C A S E NO. 2:08-cv-573-MEF (W O ) M E M O R A N D U M OPINION AND ORDER I . INTRODUCTION O n July 17, 2008, the United States of America ("Plaintiff") brought suit (Doc. #1) a g a in s t eleven defendants pursuant to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, 4 2 U.S.C. 3601-3619 ("Fair Housing Act"). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. # 4 5 ) on January 7, 2009, with additional claims pursuant to the Fair Housing Act against the te n remaining of the original defendants and three additional defendants. Plaintiff alleges th a t defendant Jamarlo Gumbaytay ("Gumbaytay") engaged in a pattern of unlawful d i sc r im in a t io n on the basis of sex in connection with the rental of the other defendants' p r o p e r tie s . On June 26, 2009, Plaintiff moved for entry of default as to seven defendants, in c lu d in g Gumbaytay (Doc. #75). This Court denied that motion, but, in so doing, required G u m b a yta y to file an answer to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint by no later than October 19, 2 0 0 9 (Doc. #97). Gumbaytay timely responded with what the Court construed as a Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, a Motion for Summary Judgment (see Doc. #101). Upon c o n sid e ra tio n of these motions and Plaintiff's response in opposition, both motions are due to be DENIED. I I . JURISDICTION AND VENUE J u ris d ic tio n over Plaintiff's claims is proper under 28 U.S.C. 1331 and 1345. The p a rtie s do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue, and the Court finds adequate allegations in support of both personal jurisdiction and venue. I I I . LEGAL STANDARD A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Therefore, for the p u rp o se s of adjudging a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court will accept as true all w e ll-p le a d ed factual allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. S e e Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008); Am. United Life Ins. Co. v . Martinez, 480 F.3d 1043, 1057 (11th Cir. 2007). While Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 (a )(2 ) requires only that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim sh o w in g that the pleader is entitled to relief," as a general matter, to survive a motion to d ism iss for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to re lie f that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2 0 0 7 ). Plaintiff's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the s p e c u la tiv e level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true." Id. at 5 5 5 (internal citations omitted). It is not sufficient that the pleadings merely leave "open the p o ssibility that a plaintiff might later establish some set of undisclosed facts to support 2 re c o v ery." Id. at 561 (internal quotation and alteration omitted). U n d e r Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is a p p ro p ria te "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, to g e th e r with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact a n d that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. C a tre tt, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party asking for summary judgment "always bears th e initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and id e n tif yin g those portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and a d m is s io n s on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the a b se n c e of a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 323. The movant can meet this burden b y presenting evidence showing there is no dispute of material fact, or by showing the nonm o v in g party has failed to present evidence in support of some element of its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-23. O n c e the moving party has met its burden, Rule 56(e) "requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by [its] own affidavits, or by the `depositions, answers to in t e rr o g a to r ie s , and admissions on file,' designate `specific facts showing that there is a g e n u in e issue for trial.'" Id. at 324. To avoid summary judgment, the nonmoving party " m u s t do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material f a cts ." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). On the o th e r hand, a court ruling on a motion for summary judgment must believe the evidence of 3 th e non-movant and must draw all justifiable inferences from the evidence in the non-moving p a rty's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). After the n o n m o v in g party has responded to the motion for summary judgment, the court must grant su m m a ry judgment if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is e n title d to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). I V . FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND A . Facts T h e factual allegations and evidentiary submissions, viewed in the light most f a v o ra b le to the non-movant, show the following: G u m b a yta y managed several residential rental properties in the Montgomery, A la b a m a area. From at least 2005 through the filing of the suit, Gumbaytay subjected actual a n d prospective female tenants of those properties to conduct that included unwanted verbal se x u a l advances, unwanted sexual touching, unwanted sexual language, grants and denials o f tangible housing benefits based on sex, and adverse action when they refused or objected to his sexual advances. As examples, Gumbaytay would regularly comment to female tenants o r prospective tenants about their physical attractiveness, repeatedly ask them out on dates e v e n when they had previously declined, and would send false notices of rent owed to those w h o spurned his advances. B . Procedural History O n July 17, 2008, Plaintiff brought suit against eleven defendants pursuant to the Fair 4 H o u s in g Act. The original eleven defendants included Gumbaytay. On August 15 and 28, 2 0 0 8 , Gumbaytay filed separate motions to dismiss this complaint, on the grounds that he had filed for bankruptcy (Docs. #8 & 12). The Court denied both of those motions (Doc. #55). T h e Court noted that any automatic stay required by Gumbaytay's bankruptcy expired when th e bankruptcy court dismissed his petition on July 25, 2008. Id. Additionally, the stay w o u ld not apply to conduct that occurs after the bankruptcy filing, such as that conduct a lle g e d in Plaintiff's Complaint. Id. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. #45) on January 7, 2009, with additional c la im s pursuant to the Fair Housing Act against the remaining original defendants and three a d d itio n a l defendants. On June 26, 2009, Plaintiff moved for entry of default judgment as t o seven defendants, including Gumbaytay, for failure to file an answer to its Amended C o m p la in t (Doc. #75). All defendants had at least filed an answer to either the original c o m p lain t or the amended complaint (see Doc. #97). Therefore, because the Eleventh Circuit d isfav o rs defaults, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion for entry of default judgment. Id. H o w e v e r, the Court did direct Gumbaytay to file an answer to Plaintiff's Amended C o m p la in t no later than October 19, 2009. Id. O n that date, Gumbaytay submitted a filing initially titled "Memorandum Opinion and O rd e r" and wholly copying three full paragraphs--without citation--from the Court's order d e n yin g Plaintiff's motion for entry of default judgment (Doc. #99). However, he did add a n additional section entitled "Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Evidence." Id. The Court 5 co n stru ed this filing as a Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, a Motion for Summary Ju d g m en t (Doc. #101). V . DISCUSSION A . Motion to Dismiss In its Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Gumbaytay violated the Fair Housing A c t (Doc. #45). Plaintiff adds that from at least 2005 through the filing of the lawsuit, G u m b a yta y subjected actual and prospective female tenants of his managed properties to d is c rim in a tio n on the basis of sex. Id. Plaintiff goes on to list specifics, including "unwanted v e rb a l sexual advances, unwanted sexual touching, unwanted sexual language, granting and d e n yin g tangible housing benefits based on sex, and taking adverse action against female te n a n ts when they refused or objected to his sexual advances." Id. These factual allegations, take n as true, "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Therefore, Gumbaytay's M o tio n to Dismiss is due to be DENIED. B . Motion for Summary Judgment A s stated above, the party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of id e n tifyin g to the Court the portions of the pleadings and evidence on file that demonstrate th e absence of a genuine issue of material fact. In his motion, Gumbaytay points out Texas sta te case law and irrelevant instances of false rape allegations that occurred outside of this C o u rt's jurisdiction. Gumbaytay only refers to the pending suit in one-half of one paragraph, a s follows: 6 T h e females in the complaint all have the same socio-economic issues [as the w o m e n Gumbaytay cites as falsely alleging rape], unemployed or under e m p l o ye d [sic]. I never rented any units to the tenants in question except for tw o or three and all of them were evicted for non-payment of rent. The ladies are seeking to get paid for the lies, deceit and defamation of my character. G u m b a ytay submits no evidentiary materials to support these allegations, nor does he cite to a n y other evidence or the contents of any other pleading in this pending suit. Therefore, G u m b a ytay clearly fails to meet his initial burden, and his motion for summary judgment is d u e to be DENIED. H o w e v e r, even had he satisfied that initial burden his motion would be denied. P la in tif f asserts in its Amended Complaint that Gumbaytay's conduct constitutes violations o f several provisions in 3604 and a provision of 3617 of the Fair Housing Act. Section 3 6 0 4 prohibits, inter alia, various forms of sex discrimination in the rental of housing. S e c tio n 3617 prohibits coercion, intimidation, threats, or interference with the rights p ro te c te d under 3604. F a c tu a lly, Plaintiffs plead that Gumbaytay engaged in various types of discrimination a g a i n s t female tenants and prospective tenants, including unwanted verbal sexual advances, u n w a n te d sexual touching, unwanted sexual language, grants and denials of tangible housing b e n e fits based on sex, and adverse actions taken when those female tenants and prospective te n a n ts refused or objected to his sexual advances. Plaintiffs also submitted affidavits from s e v e ra l women who have lived in properties managed by Gumbaytay, all describing various f o rm s of discrimination based on sex. Therefore, Plaintiff has submitted evidentiary material 7 b e yo n d the pleadings which designates specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue f o r trial. As a result, even if Gumbaytay had satisfied his initial burden, his motion for s u m m a ry judgment would still be due to be DENIED. V I. CONCLUSION F o r the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ORDERED that (1) Gumbaytay's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #99) is DENIED; and (2 ) Gumbaytay's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #99) is DENIED. D O N E this the 23 r d day of November, 2009. /s/ Mark E. Fuller CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 8

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