Frances v. Accessible Space, Inc. et al

Filing 16

ORDER granting defendants' 9 Motion to Dismiss with leave to amend, signed by District Judge John A. Mendez on 1/3/17. Ms. Frances must file her amended complaint within 20 days of the date of this Order. Defendants' responsive pleading shall be filed 20 days thereafter. (Kastilahn, A)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 ANGELICA FRANCES, 12 15 16 17 2:16-cv-1016-JAM-GGH Plaintiff, 13 14 No. v. ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS ACCESSIBLE SPACE, INC., a Minnesota corporation; SOUTH LAKE TAHOE SUPPORTIVE HOUSING, INC., a California Corporation; DOE BUSINESS ENTITIES 1-10, DOE INDIVIDUALS 1-10, 18 Defendants. 19 Plaintiff Angelica Frances (“Ms. Frances” or “Plaintiff”), a 20 21 disabled mother, has lived in an apartment complex owned by 22 Defendant South Lake Tahoe Supportive Housing Inc. (“Supportive 23 Housing”) and serviced by Defendant Accessible Space Inc. 24 (“Accessible Space”) (collectively, “Defendants”) since 2009. 1 25 Compl. ¶¶ 2, 3, 18, ECF No. 1. Ms. Frances sued Defendants in 26 27 28 1 This motion was determined to be suitable for decision without oral argument. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). The hearing was scheduled for November 15, 2016. 1 1 federal court in May 2016 alleging that Defendants have failed to 2 keep her apartment in suitable living condition and have 3 erroneously calculated her rent since 2009. 4 Defendants move to dismiss Ms. Frances’ complaint, arguing that 5 this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and that Ms. 6 Frances’ claims are time-barred. 7 8, ECF No. 9-1. 8 Defendants’ motion to dismiss. Compl. at 5-16. Mot. to Dismiss (“Mot.”) at 4, For the following reasons, the Court grants 9 10 11 12 13 I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND The Court takes the facts alleged by Plaintiff as true for purposes of this motion. Ms. Frances and her son moved into the Sky Forest Acres 14 apartment complex (“Sky Forest”) in July 2009. 15 Frances still lives at Sky Forest. 16 Accessible Space “provides accommodations and services to adults 17 with qualifying disabilities” at Sky Forest. 18 Defendant Supportive Housing owns Sky Forest. Compl. ¶ 18. Compl. ¶ 1. Ms. Defendant Compl. ¶ 2. Compl. ¶ 3. 19 In 2009 “and thereafter on a regular, continuous basis” she 20 “notified Defendants about the lack of heat in the second bedroom 21 of her [a]partment.” 22 out of the apartment in December 2013 because “he could no longer 23 deal with the cold temperature in his room.” 24 Defendants did nothing to solve the heating problem until June 25 2014, when they installed a baseboard heater in the second 26 bedroom. 27 28 Compl. ¶ 18. Ms. Frances’ son had to move Compl. ¶ 20. Compl. ¶ 19. In 2013, Ms. Frances “began complaining to Defendants about water leaks in her apartment.” Compl. ¶ 31. 2 Defendants’ 1 employees created an additional leak in Ms. Frances’ apartment 2 when they made a hole in the ceiling. 3 did not repair the leaks for five to six months. 4 Compl. ¶ 32. Defendants Compl. ¶ 33. In the fall of 2014, Ms. Frances “noticed black mold growing 5 on the walls, ceilings[,] and window sills” and asked Defendants 6 to fix the problem. 7 “entered [Ms. Frances’] apartment one or twice a month to wipe 8 down her window sills and other moldy areas with bleach,” but 9 have not remedied the source of the mold. Compl. ¶ 39. Defendants have since then Compl. ¶ 40. The mold 10 and leaks have “aggravated [her] existing injuries” and caused 11 new medical problems. 12 Compl. ¶ 50. Defendants have also failed to properly compute her rent 13 for each year that she has lived at Sky Forest, 14 and Defendants have “refused to return the overcharged amounts to 15 Plaintiff.” 16 Compl. ¶¶ 64-66, Compl. ¶ 87. In May 2016, Ms. Frances sued Defendants alleging seven 17 causes of action: (1) negligence and premises liability, 18 (2) breach of contract, (3) violation of 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., 19 (4) violation of California Civil Code Section 1941.1 and 20 California Health and Safety Code Section 17920.3, (5) unfair 21 business practices under California Business and Professions Code 22 § 17200 et seq., (6) breach of the warranty of habitability, and 23 (7) negligent infliction of emotional distress. Compl. at 4-21. 24 25 26 II. OPINION Defendants argue that the Court must dismiss Ms. Frances’ 27 complaint for two reasons: first, because the Court lacks subject 28 matter jurisdiction, and second, because statutes of limitations 3 1 2 bar Ms. Frances’ claims. A. 3 4 Mot. at 4, 8. Analysis 1. Existence of a Federal Question Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and can 5 adjudicate only those cases authorized by the United States 6 Constitution and Congress. 7 of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). 8 presumptively lack jurisdiction over civil actions, and the 9 party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. Federal courts 10 otherwise. 11 cases involving diversity of citizenship, a federal question, or 12 the United States as a party. 13 7281611, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 18, 2015). 14 jurisdiction stems from 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which states that 15 “district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil 16 actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the 17 United States.” 18 Id. Federal courts may exercise jurisdiction over Goraya v. Martinez, 2015 WL Federal question Ms. Frances asserts that this Court has jurisdiction over 19 her case “pursuant to 28 U.S.C. [§] 1331, because there are 20 several federal questions involved.” 21 argues that her claims arise under Sections 801 and 804(f)(3) of 22 the Fair Housing Act [codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, 3604] and 23 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act [codified at 29 U.S.C. 24 § 701 et seq.]. 25 mentions the Fair Housing Act sporadically throughout her 26 complaint, she does not assert any Fair Housing Act claims. 27 its face, Ms. Frances’ complaint contains only one federal 28 claim: her third cause of action for violation of Section 504 of Opp’n at 6. Compl. ¶ 8. Plaintiff However, while Ms. Frances 4 On 1 the Rehabilitation Act. 2 jurisdiction therefore depends on whether Ms. Frances has 3 adequately stated a Section 504 claim. 4 Compl. at 17. This Court’s To state a claim under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation 5 Act, a plaintiff must allege that “(1) he is an individual with 6 a disability; (2) he is otherwise qualified to receive the 7 benefit; (3) he was denied the benefits of the program solely by 8 reason of his disability; and (4) the program receives federal 9 financial assistance.” O'Guinn v. Lovelock Corr. Ctr., 502 F.3d 10 1056, 1060 (9th Cir. 2007); see also Lovell v. Chandler, 303 11 F.3d 1039, 1052 (9th Cir. 2002). 12 alleges that she “was denied the benefits of the program solely 13 by reason of [her] disability” nor asserts facts to support such 14 an allegation. 15 discrimination in her opposition, but fails to raise these 16 allegations in her complaint. 17 Ms. Frances neither explicitly Ms. Frances alleges race and disability Despite her failure to explicitly allege more than one 18 federal claim, Ms. Frances argues that her case arises under 19 federal law because “ten separate federal laws are in issue here 20 with regard to their interpretation and enforcement.” 21 8. 22 federal court may exercise jurisdiction over a case that 23 contains no sufficiently pled federal causes of action merely 24 because the case involves federal law. 25 to meet her burden to establish that this Court has subject 26 matter jurisdiction over this case. 27 dismisses Ms. Frances’ complaint for lack of subject matter 28 jurisdiction. Opp’n at But Ms. Frances does not provide any case law showing that a Ms. Frances has failed The Court therefore The Court finds that amendment is not futile in 5 1 this case and grants Ms. Frances leave to amend her complaint. 2 See Rouse v. Brown, 580 F. App'x 519, 520 (9th Cir. 2014) 3 (stating that a court abuses its discretion “to deny leave to 4 amend when amendment [is] not futile”). 5 Because Ms. Frances’ insufficiently pled claim for 6 violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides the 7 only potential basis for this Court’s jurisdiction, the Court 8 declines to address whether Ms. Frances’ claims are barred by 9 the applicable statutes of limitations at this time. 10 11 12 III. SANCTIONS The Court issued its Order re Filing Requirements (“Order”) 13 on May 12, 2016. 14 support of and in opposition to motions to dismiss to fifteen 15 pages and reply memoranda in support of motions to dismiss to 16 five pages. 17 who exceeds the page limits must pay monetary sanctions of $50.00 18 per page and that the Court will not consider any arguments made 19 past the page limit. 20 the page limit by two pages. 21 any arguments made after page five of the reply brief. 22 addition, Defendants’ counsel shall pay $100.00 in sanctions to 23 the Clerk of the Court within five days of the date of this 24 order. 25 26 ECF No. 4-2. Order at 1. Id. The Order limits memoranda in The Order also states that an attorney Defendants’ reply memorandum exceeds IV. Thus, the Court has not considered In ORDER For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS 27 Defendants’ motion to dismiss with leave to amend. 28 must file her amended complaint within twenty days of the date of 6 Ms. Frances 1 this Order. 2 days thereafter. Defendants’ responsive pleading shall be filed 20 3 IT IS SO ORDERED. 4 Dated: January 3, 2017 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7

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