Lantry v. Greystar Real Estate Partners

Filing 5

Order re: 2 motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis; order reassigning case; and report and recommendation signed by Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd on 9/19/2017. (hrllc3S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/19/2017) Modified on 9/19/2017 (hrllc3S, COURT STAFF).

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E-filed 9/19/2017 1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 JOSIE HOWARD LANTRY, Plaintiff, 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No.17-cv-05267-HRL ORDER GRANTING APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS v. GREYSTAR REAL ESTATE PARTNERS, Defendant. ORDER THAT CASE BE REASSIGNED TO A DISTRICT JUDGE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 12 13 Pro se Plaintiff Josie Lantry (“Lantry”) sues Defendant Greystar Real Estate Partners, Dkt. 14 No. 1, and applies for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”), Dkt. No. 2. Lantry has neither 15 consented to nor declined magistrate jurisdiction. For the reasons explained below, the 16 undersigned grants Lantry’s IFP application but recommends that the Court dismiss her complaint 17 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) without leave to amend. 18 19 BACKGROUND Lantry’s main allegation seems to be that Defendant, a landlord of residential property in 20 San Jose, discriminated against her because she could not afford the rent at one of Defendant’s 21 apartment buildings. See Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff alleges: that she took a tour of Defendant’s 22 Foundry Commons apartment building in August 2017; that Defendant told her that the rent was 23 $3,000 per month; and that Defendant would not accept as a tenant anyone who earned less than 24 three times the monthly rental fee. See id. Lantry cannot afford the advertised rent, but she is 25 under the impression that “all new housing is provided for the people by the people in Congress.” 26 Id. Lantry seems to believe that Defendant’s refusal to rent to her violates some kind of federal 27 policy, and that it amounts to discrimination. See id. Lantry’s complaint includes a reference to 28 section 804 of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (“FHA”) (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 3604), which 1 prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. Id. Lantry notes in her complaint that she 2 is disabled due to schizophrenia, and that she is “considered homeless.” Id. 3 LEGAL STANDARD 4 A court may authorize the commencement of a civil action in forma pauperis if the court is 5 satisfied that the applicant cannot pay the requisite filing fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The applicant 6 must submit an affidavit that includes a statement that she cannot pay the fees, and that lists her 7 assets, income, and other financial information. Id. A court, however, is under a duty to dismiss a case that is filed without prepayment of the 9 filing fees if it determines that the action “is frivolous or malicious; [or] fails to state a claim upon 10 which relief may be granted[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 1194 (9th Cir. 1998). A complaint is “frivolous” if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in 12 fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989). The IFP statute accords judges the “the 13 unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims 14 whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. . . . Examples . . . are claims describing fantastic or 15 delusional scenarios . . . .” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; see also Frost v. Vasan, 16-cv-05883 NC, 16 2017 WL 2081094 (N.D. Cal. May 15, 2017), appeal docketed, No. 17-16077 (9th Cir. May 24, 17 2017) (dismissing IFP plaintiff’s complaint, which alleged a conspiracy between the CIA, elite 18 businessmen, and a U.S. Senator, as frivolous under section 1915). 19 A dismissal under section 1915 for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be 20 granted is “essentially synonymous” with a dismissal under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Knapp v. 21 Hogan, 738 F.3d 1106, 1109 (9th Cir. 2013). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), 22 a complaint must allege sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is facially plausible. Bell 23 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the 24 plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the 25 defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A 26 court must accept factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe the pleadings in the 27 light most favorable to the plaintiff. Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 28 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). In addition, a court must liberally construe pleadings authored by litigants 2 1 who represent themselves. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). Dismissal of a pro se 2 complaint without leave to amend is proper only if it is “absolutely clear that no amendment can 3 cure the defect.” Murphy v. United States Postal Serv., C 14-02156-SI, 2014 WL 4437731, at *2 4 (N.D. Cal. 2014) (quoting Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980)). DISCUSSION 5 6 Based on the affidavit submitted by Lantry, the Court is satisfied that she is eligible to 7 proceed in forma pauperis and grants her application. Nevertheless, the undersigned recommends 8 that the Court dismiss the complaint without leave to amend. 9 Lantry’s complaint appears to be anchored in her belief that Defendant’s refusal to rent to her somehow implicates the federal government, because “all new housing is provided for the 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 people by the people in Congress. See Dkt. No. 1. The undersigned finds that Lantry’s complaint, 12 based as it is on an imaginary and false premise, is frivolous within the meaning of section 1915. 13 See Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The undersigned recommends, therefore, that the Court dismiss the 14 complaint without leave to amend. 15 Moreover, to the extent that Lantry’s complaint alleges some kind of claim to relief under 16 federal law, the undersigned concludes that it fails to state a claim, and that no amendment could 17 possibly cure the defects. Lantry’s complaint includes a passing reference to the FHA, and seems 18 to allege discrimination on the basis of income. See Dkt. No. 1. The FHA prohibits 19 discrimination in the sale or rental of certain categories of dwellings on the basis of “race, color, 20 religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 8604(a). The FHA does not prohibit 21 discrimination on the basis of income or financial circumstances. “To state a discrimination claim 22 under the FHA, a plaintiff must establish a prima facie case by alleging facts that: (1) plaintiff's 23 rights are protected under the FHA; and (2) as a result of defendant's discriminatory conduct, 24 plaintiff has suffered a distinct and palpable injury.” Drawsand v. F.F. Properties, L.L.P., 866 F. 25 Supp. 2d 1110, 1119 (N.D. Cal. 2011) (citing Harris v. Itzhaki, 183 F.3d 1043, 1051 (9th 26 Cir.1999)). 27 28 Here, Lantry’s complaint does not contain any factual allegations that could give rise to a cause of action under the FHA. The FHA in no way prohibits a landlord from refusing to rent a 3 1 dwelling because a prospective tenant cannot afford the rent. No amendment could cure this 2 defect with Plaintiff’s complaint. Accordingly, the undersigned recommends that the Court 3 dismiss the claim without leave to amend. CONCLUSIONS 4 5 For the reasons stated above, the undersigned grants Lantry’s application to proceed in 6 forma pauperis. Further, the undersigned orders that the case be reassigned to a district judge, and 7 recommends that the Court dismiss the complaint without leave to amend because it is frivolous 8 and because it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 9/19/2017 12 13 HOWARD R. LLOYD United States Magistrate Judge 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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