Morris et al v. Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Theodore D. Chuang on 3/27/2017. (c/m 3/28/2017 aos, Deputy Clerk)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
WILLIAM D. MORRIS, III, and
Civil Action No. TDC-16-2860
LEON N. WEINER & ASSOCIATES, INC.,
William D. Morris, III and Tsion Abdeta have filed this action against Leon N. Weiner &
Associates, Inc. ("LNW A") alleging housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national
origin, age, familial status, and disability.)
They also allege state common law claims of breach
of contract and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Pending before the Court is LNWA's
Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.
Beginning in 2014, Morris, a 57-year-old African American man with a disability, lived
with his fiancee Abdeta, a 28-year-old African American woman born in Ethiopia, at Spellman
House Apartments in College Park, Maryland.
LNW A owns Spellman House Apartments,
which charges below-market rate rent because the United States Department of Housing and
Urban Development ("HUD") has subsidized the mortgage on the property or makes subsidy
Plaintiffs also named the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") as a
defendant. On December 8, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Withdrawal of Action as Against
Defendant HUD Only, which the Court construed as a Notice of Dismissal pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 41 (a)(l)(A)(i).
payments to LNW A. The residential lease agreement between Plaintiffs and Spellman House
Apartments includes the following provisions:
General Restrictions: ... The Tenant agrees not to: ...
have pets or animals of any kind in the unit without the prior
written permission of the Landlord, but the landlord will allow the
tenant to keep an animal needed as a reasonable accommodation to
the tenant's disability, and will allow animals to accompany
visitors with disabilities who need such animals as an
accommodation to their disabilities;
Discrimination Prohibited: The Landlord agrees not to discriminate based
upon race, color, religion, creed, National origin, sex, age, familial status,
Lease ~~ 13,21, PIs.' Opp'n Mot. Dismiss Exs. 2C-2E, ECF Nos. 25-5, 25-6, 25-7.
During their tenancy at Spellman House Apartments,
Plaintiffs objected to certain
exchanges they had with property management and staff. First, James Chandler, a maintenance
technician at Spellman House Apartments, "repeatedly insult [ed]" Morris "in the presence of
Am. Compl. ~ 39, ECF No. 18. On or about April 15, 2015, Plaintiffs wrote to
the regional manager, Randy Emlet, who is white, to request that Chandler be terminated.
LNW A did not fire him. Plaintiffs assert that the fact that they are African American "played a
role" in Emlet's decision not to terminate Chandler. Id. ~ 41.
On or about January
15, 2016, when Abdeta was
an elevator with Cecil, a
maintenance contractor, Cecil asked her "So when are you two getting married?" in an apparent
reference to Morris and Abdeta.
Id. ~~ 43, 53.
Morris informed Emlet and the property
manager, April Pritchett, of the incident, but they did not fire Cecil. They likewise did not fire
Cecil after Morris informed them of another incident, in which Cecil sprayed air freshener into
Morris's face, Morris sneezed, and Cecil screamed at Morris, "What did you say? What did you
say?" in a "hostile, threatening manner." Id ~ 61.
two other unwelcome
in March 2014, the maintenance
Faulkner, greeted them on at least 50 occasions in common areas "by saying loudly 'Hey kids!'"
Id ~ 42. According to Plaintiffs, the "vast majority of tenants at Spellman House Apartments are
significantly older than Plaintiffs," and they have never heard Faulkner address older residents
with "Hey old people!" or similar greetings. Id ~~ 30,47.
Second, on or about June 15,2016 at
approximately 9:00 a.m., Pritchett, when visiting to conduct a routine inspection, "repeatedly and
forcefully banged on Plaintiffs' front door with her fist" instead of using the door knocker, which
maintenance staff typically use when seeking entry to an apartment. Id ~ 44.
Beyond these exchanges with property management
and staff, Plaintiffs allege that
between March 2014 and December 2015 a tenant on their floor "would not keep her dog on a
leash in the common areas as is required by the rules," leading to an incident on or about July 15,
2015 during which the dog bit Morris. Id ~~ 32-34. Although Plaintiffs complained at least 10
times, in writing, to Emlet and the property manager about the tenant's failure to keep her dog on
a leash, she was not evicted from her apartment.
Apartments would be terminated.
learned that their own residency
Around August 19, Emlet and Pritchett informed them that
based on an incident in which one of them took money out of a wallet left in a common area,
their lease was being terminated and that they would be evicted on August 23 if they did not
agree before that date to leave voluntarily by August 30. On August 24, 2016, Pritchett sent
Plaintiffs a letter stating that their lease would be terminated on September 25,2016 for the same
reasons identified in the meeting. The letter detailed the process by which Plaintiffs could object
to the action and stated that if Plaintiffs did not move out by September 25, legal proceedings
would be initiated.
On August 22, 2016, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit alleging age discrimination, housing
discrimination, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C.
~~ 12131-12134 (2012), violations of "Plaintiffs' civil rights," CompI. ~ 63, ECF No.1, and state
common law claims of breach of contract and of the covenant of quiet enjoyment.
Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, LNW A filed the pending Motion directed towards the
On November 7, 2016, the Court held a Case Management Conference,
during which it accepted the Amended Complaint as the operative Complaint and directed
LNW A either to supplement its Motion in light of the Amended Complaint or to state that it need
not do so. On November 11,2016, LNWA filed a notice stating that it would not supplement its
Motion and asking the Court to consider the Motion as seeking dismissal of the Amended
LNW A is seeking dismissal of the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)( 6). LNW A argues that Plaintiffs fail to state a claim for discrimination because
they do not sufficiently allege that they were treated differently than other tenants.
contends that the facts asserted do not state a plausible claim for breach of contract or breach of
the covenant of quiet enjoyment, and that the termination of the lease did not violate Plaintiffs'
due process rights.
To defeat a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must allege enough
facts to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim is
plausible when the facts pleaded allow "the Court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Although courts should construe pleadings
litigants liberally, Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), legal
conclusions or conclusory statements do not suffice, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The Court must
examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the complaint as true, and
construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. ofComm'rs
Albright v. Oliver,
of Davidson Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th
In evaluating a motion to dismiss, courts are permitted to consider documents outside the
pleadings if they "integral to the complaint and authentic."
Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd.,
822 F.3d 159, 164 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting Sec'y of State for Defence v. Trimble Nav. Ltd., 484
F.3d 700, 705 (4th Cir. 2007».
In their Opposition to the Motion, Plaintiffs attached as exhibits
a copy of their lease agreement with Spellman House Apartments and a lease termination letter
dated August 24, 2016, and they do not object to the authenticity of either document. The lease
agreement forms the basis of Plaintiffs' breach of contract claim, and the lease termination letter,
which addresses the process by which Plaintiffs' tenancy was to be terminated, is integral to the
claim that LNW A violated their "civil rights" by terminating their lease without proper notice.
Am. CompI. ,-r 63. Accordingly, the Court will consider both documents.
Plaintiffs' primary claim is that LNW A engaged in housing discrimination on the basis of
race, color, national origin, age, familial status, and disability.
The Court generally construes
these claims as brought under the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C.
in rental housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national
origin, familial status, or handicap. See id.
Plaintiffs assert that LNW A discriminated against them based on their age by allowing
"its management, staff, and contractors to treat Plaintiffs differently than the rest of the tenants at
Spellman House Apartments based on the fact that Plaintiffs are much younger than the vast
majority of tenants who live in the building." Am. Compl. ,-r 46. Specifically, they highlight that
Faulkner routinely greeted them by loudly saying "Hey kids!" but never greeted older tenants
with "Hey old people!" or similar comments.
The FHA, however, does not list age as a
prohibited basis of discrimination and thus does not support Plaintiffs' claim. 42 U.S.C.
Plaintiffs alternatively invoke the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, 42 U.S.C.
6107, which "prohibit( s] discrimination on the basis of age in programs or activities receiving
Federal financial assistance."
recovery of money damages. See id.
The statute, however, does not provide for the
S 6104( e) (referencing
only injunctive relief and attorney's
fees); see, e.g., Steshenko v. Albee, 42 F. Supp. 3d 1281, 1290 (N.D. Cal. 2014) (holding that the
Act does not authorize damages); Long v. Fulton Cty. Sch. Dist., 807 F.
Supp. 2d 1274, 1286-87 (N.D. Ga. 2011) (same); Tyrrell v. City of Scranton, 134 F. Supp. 2d
(M.D. Pa. 2001) (same); see also Transamerica Mortg. Advisors, Inc. v. Lewis, 444
U.S. 11, 19 (1979) ("(W]here a statute expressly provides a particular remedy or remedies, a
court must be chary of reading others into it."). Because Plaintiffs have already moved out of
Spellman House Apartments and seek only damages, they cannot obtain relief under the Age
Discrimination Act. The age discrimination claim will therefore be dismissed with prejudice.
The Amended Complaint also includes an allegation that LNW A discriminated against
Plaintiffs based on familial status by refusing to fire the maintenance contractor for asking
Abdeta when she and Morris were getting married.
The FHA's prohibition on discrimination
based on familial status, however, protects families with children, not unmarried couples.
Specifically, "familial status" is defined as "one or more individuals (who have not attained the
age of 18 years) being domiciled with" either "a parent or another person having legal custody of
such individual or individuals" or "the designee of such parent or other person having such
Under this definition of familial status, which does not
encompass marital status, neither plaintiff is a member of a protected class.
The claim of
familial status discrimination must therefore be dismissed with prejudice.
Race, Color, and National Origin
Plaintiffs' claims of housing discrimination based on their race and color are insufficient
to state a claim for relief. Plaintiffs allege that LNW A discriminated against them based on race
and color when Emlet refused to fire the maintenance technician for insulting Morris and refused
to fire the maintenance contractor for asking Abdeta when the couple was getting married.
establish an FHA disparate treatment claim, a plaintiff must show that "he is a member of a
protected class and that he was treated differently than other tenants because of his membership
in that class."
~oberson v. Graziano, No. WDQ-09-3038,
2010 WL 2106466, at *2 (D. Md.
May 21, 2010), aff'd, 411 F. App'x 583 (4th Cir. 2011); ef Coleman v. Md. Court of Appeals,
626 F.3d 187, 190 (4th Cir. 2010) (stating that the elements of a prima facie case of disparate
treatment under Title VII include "different treatment from similarly situated employees outside
the protected class"). See generally Pinchback v. Armistead Homes Corp., 907 F.2d 1447, 1451
(4th Cir. 1990) (noting that "[f]air employment concepts are often imported into fair housing
law" and citing as an example the incorporation of the McDonnell Douglas prima facie proof test
into Title VIII). Here, Plaintiffs' allegations are insufficient to state a plausible claim of housing
discrimination based on race or color because they fail to allege facts to show that tenants of a
different race or color were treated differently under similar circumstances.
See, e.g., Adam v.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 1:09-cv-2387, 2010 WL 3001160, at *3 (D. Md. July 28, 2010)
(dismissing the plaintiffs
discrimination claim where he "merely made an unadorned accusation
that race, religion, or national origin motivated the Defendant's actions"); cf Coleman, 626 F.3d
Plaintiffs' claims that LNW A discriminated against Abdeta on the basis of national origin
fail for the same reason. Plaintiffs assert that LNW A engaged in national origin discrimination
by: (1) allowing the maintenance technician repeatedly to insult Morris and refusing to fire him
upon Abdeta's request; (2) refusing to evict a fellow tenant for keeping her dog off leash in
common areas, in violation of building rules, after Abdeta notified management of the situation;
and (3) refusing to fire the maintenance contractor after Plaintiffs informed management that
Cecil had asked Abdeta when she and Morris were getting married.
Although Plaintiffs allege
that Abdeta is of Ethiopian national origin, and therefore a member of a protected class, the
Amended Complaint provides no fact-based allegations that tenants who were of a different
national origin were treated more favorably than she was under similar circumstances.
information would have included, for example, whether management heeded requests to fire staff
or evict tenants when those requests were made by other tenants who did not share Abdeta's
Ethiopian origin. The Court therefore grants LNWA's Motion as to Plaintiffs' claim of housing
discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin.
Moreover, although Plaintiffs generally refer to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
("Title VI"), 42 U.S.C.
2000d to 2000d-7, and Executive Order 11,063, 27 Fed. Reg. 11527
(Nov. 20, 1962), neither provides a plausible basis for relief. Section 601 of Title VI prohibits
discrimination on the basis of "race, color, or national origin ...
receiving Federal financial assistance."
under any program or activity
Plaintiffs claim that Spellman
House Apartments receives federal funding, subjecting it to Title VI.
As discussed above,
however, Plaintiffs do not make any factual allegations beyond conclusory statements to support
the assertion that LNW A treated them differently from tenants outside the protected class. Cf
Coleman, 626 F.3d at 190-91 (affirming the dismissal of a Title VII discrimination claim where
the "complaint conclusorily alleges that [the plaintiff] was terminated based on his race" but
"does not assert facts establishing the plausibility of that allegation").
See generally Maisha v.
Univ. o/North Carolina, 641 F. App'x 246,250 (4th Cir. 2016) (applying Title VII concepts to a
Title VI claim); Rashdan v. Geissberger, 764 F.3d 1179, 1182 (9th Cir. 2014) (same). Executive
Order 11,063, meanwhile, which addresses equal opportunity in housing, affords no private right
of action. See 27 Fed. Reg. 11527; see also Herndon v. Hous. Auth., --- F. App'x ---, No. 162821, 2016 WL 6682101, at *1 (7th Cir. Nov. 14, 2016) (affirming the dismissal of an alleged
violation of Executive Order 11,063).
Plaintiffs also allege that LNW A discriminated
against Morris on the basis of his
disability by: (l) allowing a maintenance technician to repeatedly insult Morris and refusing to
fire him upon his request; (2) refusing to evict a fellow tenant for keeping her dog off leash in
common areas, in violation of building rules, despite complaints by Morris; and (3) refusing to
terminate Cecil, a maintenance contractor, after Morris reported an incident during which Cecil
sprayed air freshener into Morris's face, Morris sneezed, and Cecil screamed "What did you say?
What did you say?" in a hostile, threatening manner.
Am. Compi. ~ 61. Whether the claim is
analyzed under the FHA, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42
12131-12134, or section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,29 U.S.C.
(2012), it does not state a plausible claim for relief.
The FHA bars discrimination "in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a
dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of
The statute defines a handicap as "a physical or mental
impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities," "a
record of having such an impairment," or "being regarded as having such an impairment."
A plaintiff alleging a violation of the FHA on the basis of a handicap must show that
"he is handicapped and that he was either discriminated against because of his handicap or
denied a reasonable accommodation necessary to allow him the same use and enjoyment of his
dwelling as other non-handicapped persons." Roberson, 2010 WL 2106466, at *3. Here, Morris
does not describe the nature of his disability and, even if he has a handicap as defined by the
FHA, he has not alleged how he was treated differently from other tenants because of his
The Court therefore dismisses Plaintiffs' claim to the extent that it is brought under
See Hardaway v. Equity Residential Mgmt., LLC, No. DKC-1l-1924,
3903489, at *6 (D. Md. Sept. 6,2012) (dismissing an FHA claim where, "[i]n addition to failing
to elaborate on the nature of [the plaintiffs]
disability, they have not alleged a plausible nexus
between her disability and the alleged discriminatory acts").
Morris also fails to state a plausible claim of disability discrimination under the ADA or
the Rehabilitation Act.
Under Title II of the ADA, "no qualified individual with a disability
shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of
the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subject to discrimination by any such
entity." 42 U.S.C.
12132. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protects an individual with a
disability from being "subjected to discrimination
Federal financial assistance."
under any program or activity receiving
A claim under either statute requires a showing
that the plaintiff (l) has a disability, (2) is otherwise qualified to receive the benefits of a public
service, program, or activity, and (3) was excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of
such service, program, or activity, or otherwise discriminated
against, on the basis of the
Constantine v. Rectors & Visitors of George Mason Univ., 411 F.3d 474, 498 (4th
Cir. 2005). The plaintiff has a higher burden with respect to the causative link: under section 504,
which requires that the discrimination occurred "solely by reason of' the disability, than under
the ADA, which requires that the disability "played a motivating role" in the challenged action.
Baird ex reI. Baird v. Rose, 192 F.3d 462,469-70
(4th Cir. 1999). Here, even assuming that
Spellman House Apartments, by virtue of the receipt of federal funding, is subject to Title II of
the ADA or the section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Amended Complaint's mere assertion
that Morris has a disability is not sufficient to show that his disability is covered under either
law. See Hardaway, 2012 WL 3903489, at *5. More importantly, Plaintiffs do not offer any
facts to show that his disability was either the sole reason or a motivating factor in the decisions
not to terminate the staff or evict the tenant about whom Morris complained.
He has offered no
indication that similar complaints by a tenant without a disability were or would be treated
Plaintiffs therefore do not state a plausible claim for discrimination on the basis of
Breach of Contract
Plaintiffs assert that LNW A breached Clause 21 of the lease agreement, which provides
that the "Landlord agrees not to discriminate based upon race, color, religion, creed, National
origin, sex, age, familial status, and disability."
Lease ~ 21. In support of this claim, Plaintiffs
(l) LNW A allowed the maintenance technician to repeatedly insult Morris and
refused to fire him upon their request; (2) the maintenance supervisor routinely greeted them by
saying, "Hey kids!"; and (3) the maintenance contractor asked Abdeta when she and Morris were
getting married. Am. Compi. ~~ 38-43.
The lease agreement does not explain what constitutes discrimination under the contract
or define the terms "age," "familial status," and "disability."
Under Maryland law, therefore, the
objective plain language of the clause governs:
A court construing an agreement under this test must first determine from the
language of the agreement itself what a reasonable person in the position of the
parties would have meant at the time it was effectuated. In addition, when the
language of the contract is plain and unambiguous there is no room for
construction, and a court must presume that the parties meant what they
Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp. v. Daniels, 492 A.2d 1306, 1310 (Md. 1985).
Plaintiffs do not specify in their Amended Complaint the bases on which LNW A
discriminated against them in violation of the lease agreement, but the Court infers that the
Plaintiffs claim that LNW A breached the lease by discriminating against them on the same
grounds identified in the statutory causes of action:
status, and disability.
race, color, national origin, age, familial
See supra Part II. For the reasons already discussed, Plaintiffs have not
alleged sufficient facts to establish that LNW A discriminated against them-that
of their race, color, national origin, or disability.
The claim that LNWA
against them based on age relies solely on the allegation that a maintenance
supervisor greeted them numerous times by saying, "Hey kids!"
is, treated them
status" were to be construed
Even if the contract term
as relating to marital status, Plaintiffs'
discrimination on that basis is based solely on the allegation that they were asked multiple times
by the maintenance contractor, "When are you getting married?"
Plaintiffs, however, provide no allegations that LNW A actually treated them adversely in
the application of the terms and conditions of the lease because of age or unmarried status. They
have identified no discriminatory treatment as compared to others in lease terms, rent amount,
assigned unit, or any other benefit or service relating to their tenancy.
statements "Hey kids!"
Standing alone, the
and "When are you getting married?" do not provide a plausible basis
rising "above the speculative level" to conclude that LNW A breached the lease by engaging in
discrimination within the meaning of the lease. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; McCleary-Evans v.
Md Dep't of Transp., State Highway Admin., 780 F.3d 582, 585 (4th Cir. 2015). Accordingly,
breach of contract claim relating to the non-discrimination
clause of the lease is
dismissed for failure to state a plausible claim of relief.
Breach of the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment
Plaintiffs' claim of a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment is based on alleged two
(1) LNWA's failure to evict a fellow tenant whose dog bit Morris and who kept her
dog off leash in cornmon areas in violation of building rules, and (2) the property manager
announcing her presence at Plaintiffs' door by banging on the door with her fist instead of using
the door knocker.
Under Maryland law, unless otherwise stated in a lease, there is an implied
covenant of quiet enjoyment ofthe leased premises during the term of a lease. Bocchini v. Gam
Mgmt. Co., 515 A.2d 1179,1182 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1986) (citing Baugher v. Wilkins, 16 Md.
35, 44-45 (1860».
"The covenant 'insulates the tenant against acts or omissions on the part of
the landlord, or anyone claiming under him, which interfere with the tenant's right to the use and
enjoyment of the premises for the contemplated purposes.'''
Id. (quoting Q C Corp. v. Md. Port
Admin., 510 A.2d 1101, 1110 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1986». A landlord may be held liable for "a
breach of a covenant of quiet enjoyment ...
based on disturbances by another tenant where the
landlord has some measure of control over the offending tenant."
Id. at 1184-85; see also
Matthews v. Amberwood Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 719 A.2d 119, 126 (Md. 1998) (quoting Bocchini).
Here, Plaintiffs do not present a plausible claim that the property manager's
banging on their front door interfered with their right to use and enjoy their apartment "for the
contemplated purposes," Bocchini, 515 A.2d at 1182, or "amount [ed] to a deprivation of 'the
essence of what the landlord is to provide,''' Stevan v. Brown, 458 A.2d 466,474 (Md. Ct. Spec.
App. 1983) (quoting Charles E. Burt, Inc. v. Seven Grand Corp., 163 N.E.2d 4,6 (Mass. 1959»,
especially where the use of their door knocker would have had the same effect.
As for the fellow tenant's dog, LNW A may have had some measure of control if that
tenant's lease agreement had the same provisions as in Plaintiffs' lease, which requires written
permission of the landlord for "pets or animals of any kind."
Opp'n at 15, ECF No. 25-6. In
addition, Plaintiffs allege that they had informed LNW A that the tenant, who lived on the same
floor as Plaintiffs, had kept her dog off leash. Nevertheless, the Amended Complaint does not
allege facts that would support the contention that the activity marked an actual interference with
their ability to use and enjoy their unit or the common areas of Spellman House Apartments.
Unlike a situation in which a landlord has failed to furnish light, heat, or elevator services where
necessary, see Stevan, 458 A.2d at 473-474, or where a tenant is unable to sleep or enjoy the
premises because of unbearable, unabated noise from a neighbor's apartment, see Bocchini, 515
A.2d at 1181, 1185, Plaintiffs' limited allegations regarding the dog do not provide a basis to
conclude that its activities and presence were of such a nature and duration as to prevent them
from fully using their apartment or to otherwise deprive them of "the essence of what the
landlord is to provide." Stevan, 458 A.2d at 474; see also Jones v. New Britain Hous. Aufh., No.
CV 980488546S, 1999 WL 329706, at *3-4 (Conn. Super. Ct. Apr. 30,1999) (dismissing a claim
for breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment against a housing authority that operated the property
on which the plaintiff was bitten by a dog); Presser v. RCP Mayfield, LLC, No. 92073,2009 WL
1965255, at *4-5 (Ohio Ct. App. July 9, 2009) (affirming a grant of summary judgment because
the "presence of dogs on the premises" did not "amount to a substantial deprivation of the
beneficial use" of the plaintiffs
Accordingly, the Court will dismiss Plaintiffs'
breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment claim.
Lastly, Plaintiffs assert that LNWA violated their "civil rights" and engaged in housing
discrimination by providing inadequate notice of termination.
Am. Compi. ~ 63. On August 11,
2016, Plaintiffs took money out of a wallet that had been left in a common area of Spellman
On August 19,2017, management told Plaintiffs that they could either agree
by August 22 to vacate their apartment voluntarily before August 30, or face eviction within 14
allege that this threat violated HUD rules, regulations,
specifically a "customary" 30-day notice period prior to eviction, and thus constituted housing
Id. ~~ 56, 64.
Plaintiffs fail to state a claim for several reasons. First, the Amended Complaint does not
specify the civil right allegedly violated, the HUD rule, regulation, or guideline allegedly
breached, or the source of the "customary 30 day notice period." Id. ,-r 64. Second, even if such
a requirement applies, the actual notice to vacate provided to Plaintiffs on August 24,2016 stated
that their lease would be terminated on September 25, 2016, thus providing more than 30 days'
Letter at 1, Opp'n Exs. 1A-1B, ECF Nos. 25-1, 25-2.
Third, the due process
requirements for the eviction of a tenant from a federally-assisted public housing project, see
generally Caulder v. Durham Hous. AUfh., 433 F.2d 998, 1004 (4th Cir. 1970), are not at issue
here because Plaintiffs have not alleged that they entered into formal eviction proceedings
Finally, Plaintiffs have not asserted any facts, such as examples of other tenants who
were not evicted after committing a similar transgression, to support the conclusion that the
termination of their lease, or the notice period provided, was motivated by race, color, national
origin, age, familial status, or disability. Even construed liberally, the Amended Complaint here
does not provide a sufficient basis to state a plausible claim of housing discrimination or some
other civil rights violation arising from the lease termination.
See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79;
780 F.3d at 585 (stating that "more than labels and conclusions" are required
to state a plausible claim for relief).
For the foregoing reasons, LNWA's
Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
and familial status discrimination
claims are dismissed with prejudice.
remaining claims are dismissed without prejudice. A separate Order shall issue.
Date: March 27,2017
United States Distnc
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