PIERRE v. WINN MANAGED PROPERTIES, LLC et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION accompanying final order issued separately this day. Signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on 12/14/16.(ah)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Properties, LLC et al.,
Civil Action No. 16-0683-CKK
Proceeding without counsel, plaintiff has sued the United States Department of Housing
and Urban Development (“HUD”) and a property management company from which he leases
an apartment under the federal public housing program commonly referred to as Section 8
housing. See Compl. ¶ 8; 42 U.S.C. § 1437f (“Low-income housing assistance”). Plaintiff seeks
money damages exceeding $571 million for breach of contract, breach of warranty and
negligence. See Compl. at 5-8. Pending before the Court are HUD’s motion to dismiss [Dkt. 7]
and the property management defendants’ motion to dismiss [Dkt. 8]. 1
On July 12, 2016, the Court informed plaintiff about his obligation to respond to each
motion by September 6, 2016, and the potential consequence of dismissal if he did not respond.
See Order [Dkt. 9]. The deadline was extended, at plaintiff’s request, to October 31, 2016. See
Aug. 31, 2016 Min. Order. Plaintiff has not complied with either order, and he has not sought
additional time to comply. For the reasons summarized below, the Court will grant each motion
and dismiss the complaint without prejudice.
The latter motion to dismiss is brought on behalf of named defendants Winn Managed
Properties, LLC, and Southern Hills L.P. See Counsel’s Errata [Dkt. 12].
1. HUD’s Motion to Dismiss
HUD argues, among other grounds for dismissal, that the complaint is barred by
sovereign immunity. See Def.’s Mem. of P. & A. at 7-9. Under the doctrine of sovereign
immunity, “the United States may not be sued without its consent and . . . the existence of
consent is a prerequisite for jurisdiction.” United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 212 (1983).
Such consent may not be implied; it must be “unequivocally expressed in statutory text.” Lane v.
Pena, 518 U.S. 187, 192 (1996).
The burden of proving that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction lies with the plaintiff,
even if he is acting pro se. Woodyard v. Harper, 162 F. Supp. 3d 3, 6 (D.D.C. 2016). By not
responding in any way to the motion, plaintiff has conceded HUD’s valid jurisdictional
argument. See July 12, 2016 Order at 1 (citing Hopkins v. Women’s Div., General Bd. of Global
Ministries, 284 F. Supp. 2d 15, 25 (D.D.C. 2003), aff'd, 98 Fed. Appx. 8 (D.C. Cir. 2004)). “As
courts of limited jurisdiction, federal courts must assure themselves of jurisdiction over any
controversy they hear.” Woodyard, 162 F. Supp. 3d at 6. And when jurisdiction is lacking, “the
court [can] no more rule in favor of the government than against it.” Simpkins v. D.C. Gov’t, 108
F.3d 366, 371 (D.C. Cir. 1997). Accordingly, the claims against HUD will be dismissed under
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) for want of subject matter jurisdiction.
2. Property Managers’ Motion to Dismiss
The property management defendants contend first that plaintiff’s claim for “damages
from 2003 to present day” is barred by the District’s three-year statute of limitations. Mem. of P.
& A. at 4-5 [Dkt. 8] (citing D.C. Code § 12-301(7)). But plaintiff alleges in the complaint filed
on April 12, 2016, that “a few years ago, in the beginning of his lease,” he “realized that his
‘Utility Reimbursements’ were not right to his estimation,” and he complained to management in
writing. Compl. ¶ 10. In “[e]ither late 2013 or early 2014, [plaintiff] realized, finally . . . [that]
Management was adding the amount of his ‘Utility Allowance’ as . . . part of his rent.” Id.
Accepting plaintiff’s allegations as true, as the Court must at this stage of litigation, the
complaint appears to have been filed within three years of plaintiff’s alleged discovery of
wrongdoing; therefore, the Court cannot grant defendant’s motion on statute of limitations
grounds. See Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1209 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (reiterating that
“because statute of limitations issues often depend on contested questions of fact, dismissal is
appropriate only if the complaint on its face is conclusively time-barred”) (citing Richards v.
Mileski, 662 F.2d 65, 73 (D.C. Cir. 1981)); see accord Hagan v. United States, --- F. Supp. 3d --, ---, 2016 WL 3688426, at *3 (D.D.C. July 7, 2016) (denying motion to dismiss where “the
Court [could not] conclude based on the face of the complaint alone that the applicable statute of
limitations bars the claims in this case”).
The property management defendants contend next that plaintiff’s conclusory allegations
that he is entitled to more than $45,000 in unpaid utility allowances fail to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. See Mem. of P. & A. at 5-6. Plaintiff has not responded to this
argument by clarifying his claim with actual facts, and a pleading, such as presented here, that
merely offers “ ‘labels and conclusions[,] . . . a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action’ . . . [or] ‘naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement’ ” cannot withstand a
motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations and alterations
omitted). Accordingly, the claims against the property management defendants will be
dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6). 2
DATED: December 14, 2016
United States District Judge
A separate order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
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