Perkins v. Metropolitan Council, Metro HRA
ORDER denying 10 Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Written Opinion). Signed by Senior Judge David S. Doty on 5/23/2014. (PJM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Civil No. 14-1355(DSD/JJG)
Heather Meyers, Esq., Michael W. Hagedorn, Esq. and
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, 55 East Fifth
Street, Suite 400, St. Paul, MN 55101, counsel for
Mary G. Dobbins, Esq. and Landrum Dobbins LLC, 7400 Metro
Boulevard, Suite 100, Edina, MN 55439, counsel for
preliminary injunction by plaintiff Kimberly Perkins.
Based on a
review of the file, record and proceedings herein, and for the
following reasons, the court denies the motion.
This housing dispute arises out of the cessation of Perkins’s
Metropolitan Council, Metro HRA (Metro HRA). Perkins has a history
of depression, PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, dissociative disorder and
a seizure disorder.
Ver. Compl. ¶ 26.
diagnosed with a seizure disorder.
Perkins’s son has also been
Id. ¶ 27.
Perkins has been issued Section 8 housing vouchers since 1991.
Id. ¶ 28.
On December 1, 2012, Perkins began renting an apartment
Id. ¶ 29.
On April 29, 2013, Garden Grove informed
Perkins that her lease would not be renewed when it expired on
November 30, 2013.
Id. ¶ 30.
Perkins and her son did not vacate
the unit on November 30, 2013.
Id. ¶ 32.
Perkins alleges that she
did not vacate the unit because she was incapable of moving due to
her disability and that of her son.
Id. ¶¶ 32-33.
On December 2, 2013, Garden Grove commenced an eviction action
against Perkins in Ramsey County District Court.
Id. ¶ 35.
January 8, 2014, the Ramsey County District Court held that Perkins
improperly held over after the expiration of her lease and ordered
that Garden Grove was entitled to recover the rental property. Id.
Perkins was removed from the unit on January 17, 2014, by
the Ramsey County Sheriff.
Meyers Aff. Ex. 1, at ¶ 26.
Assistance” letter to Perkins, informing her that her assistance
would be terminated on February 28, 2014, because she had committed
a serious violation of her lease.
Ver. Compl. ¶ 38.
13, 2014, Perkins requested (1) a pre-termination informal hearing
accommodation by reinstating her Section 8 assistance to allow her
to move to a new apartment.
Id. ¶¶ 39, 44.
As part of the
request, Perkins submitted a letter from her physician stating that
Perkins was disabled and that her disability contributed to her
inability to search for housing and to timely vacate the Garden
Id. ¶¶ 40-41.
On January 16, 2014, Metro HRA denied Perkins’s request to
reinstate benefits, stating that the proposed accommodation was not
Id. ¶ 45.
Metro HRA scheduled and held an informal
hearing on February 11, 2014.
Id. ¶¶ 57-58.
On February 25, 2014,
the hearing officer upheld the termination of Section 8 assistance,
holding that Perkins had committed a serious violation of her
Id. ¶ 60.
violation of the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) and (2) due
process violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Perkins moved for a preliminary injunction.
On May 20, 2014,
The court heard oral
argument on May 22, 2014, and all parties appeared through counsel.
A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy, and the
movant bears the burden of establishing its propriety.
Inc. v. Lewis, 346 F.3d 841, 844 (8th Cir. 2003).
ultimate success on the merits, (2) the threat of irreparable harm
to the movant in the absence of relief, (3) the balance between the
harm alleged and the harm that the relief may cause the non-moving
party and (4) the public interest.
Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C.L.
Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 114 (8th Cir. 1981) (en banc).
movant bears the burden of proof concerning each factor. See Gelco
v. Coniston Partners, 811 F.2d 414, 418 (8th Cir. 1987).
factor is determinative.
See Dataphase, 640 F.2d at 112-14.
Instead, the court considers the particular circumstances of each
case, remembering that the primary question is whether the “balance
of equities so favors the movant that justice requires the court to
Id. at 113.
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
The court first considers the “most significant” Dataphase
factor: likelihood that the movant will prevail on the merits. S&M
Constructors, Inc. v. Foley Co., 959 F.2d 97, 98 (8th Cir. 1992).
Perkins argues that she can establish a likelihood of success on
both her FHAA claim and her § 1983 due process claim.
Perkins argues that Metro HRA discriminated against her by
declining to grant her proposed accommodation.
On January 13,
2014, Perkins requested that Metro HRA accommodate her (1) by
excusing the eviction for holding over and (2) by reinstating her
accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when
such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal
To establish a prima facie case of failure to
(2) necessary to afford her an equal opportunity to enjoy Section
8 benefits and (3) possible to implement.”
Huberty v. Washington
Cnty. Housing & Redevelopment Auth., 374 F. Supp. 2d 768, 773 (D.
Minn. 2005) (citations omitted).
“If plaintiff makes such a
demonstrate that the requested accommodation is unreasonable.” Id.
Here, even if Perkins could establish a prima facie failureto-accommodate claim, Metro HRA would have the opportunity to show
that the requested accommodation was not reasonable.
“In the FHAA
fundamentally alters the nature of the program or imposes undue
financial or administrative burdens.”
Id. at 774 (citations
“Whether the accommodation is unreasonable is highly
At this stage in the proceedings, Metro HRA could likely
demonstrate that the proposed accommodation was not reasonable.
regulations to terminate the Section 8 benefits after Perkins was
evicted for holding over.
Indeed, HUD regulations provide that
Metro HRA “must terminate program assistance for a family evicted
from housing assisted under the program for serious violation of
24 C.F.R. § 982.552(b)(2) (emphasis added).
termination is mandatory upon a finding that an individual was
evicted for a serious violation of the lease.
See Cole v. Metro.
Council HRA, 686 N.W.2d 334, 338 (Minn. Ct. App. 2004).
A “serious” violation is not defined within the regulations.
Nevertheless, courts have found that holding over at the expiration
of a lease is a serious violation of the lease.
See Wilhite v.
Scott Cnty. Hous. & Redevelopment Auth., 759 N.W.2d 252, 256 (Minn.
Ct. App. 2009) (“In the case of serious violations [such as holding
over], the landlord is deprived of either a tangible property
interest or a real, significant, economic benefit.”). As a result,
Perkins’s eviction was for a serious lease violation,1 and Metro
HRA was required by HUD regulations to terminate assistance.
Given Metro HRA’s requirement to comply with HUD regulations,
the court concludes that excusing Perkins’s eviction for the
serious lease violation and reinstating Section 8 benefits would
likely not have been a reasonable accommodation for Perkins’s
Cf. Hover v. Fla. Power & Light Co., No. 93-14236,
1995 WL 91531, at *4 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 6, 1995) (“This Court cannot
intentionally violate a Federal Regulation and/or Statute to make
a reasonable accommodation to an employee ....”).
contract between HUD and Metro HRA provided that Metro HRA “shall
use the Annual Contribution [from HUD] solely for the purpose of
providing Decent, Safe, and Sanitary dwellings for Families in
compliance with all applicable provisions of the Act and all
regulations issued pursuant thereto.”
Smith Aff. Ex. A, at ¶ 2.2
Requiring Metro HRA to jeopardize its HUD
funding by intentionally violating an applicable regulation cannot
Perkins attempts to distinguish Wilhite, arguing that,
unlike the plaintiff in Wilhite, she paid rent for the holdover
The Wilhite court, however, distinguished serious
violations from minor violations such as “late payment of rent,
improperly boarding a pet, or ignoring homeowner-association
rules.” 759 N.W.2d at 256. Holding over - whether accompanied by
payment or not - is a much more serious violation than that class
of minor violations.
Moreover, Garden Grove expended time and
money to evict Perkins after her lease expired, and such expense is
a “real, significant, economic benefit.”
As a result,
Perkins’s argument is unavailing.
constitute a reasonable accommodation.
See Huberty, 374 F. Supp.
at 774 (noting that accommodation is not reasonable if it imposes
financial or administrative burdens).
As a result, Perkins cannot
demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of her FHAA
Perkins also alleges a § 1983 claim for alleged due process
Specifically, Perkins alleges that she has a property
interest in her Section 8 benefits, and that Metro HRA terminated
her benefits in violation of the FHAA.
As already explained,
however, Perkins has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on
her claim that Metro HRA violated the FHAA.
cannot demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of the
derivative § 1983 claim. As a result, Perkins has not demonstrated
a likelihood of success on the merits of either claim, and this
Dataphase factor weighs against injunctive relief.
To establish irreparable harm, “a party must show that the
harm is certain and great and of such imminence that there is a
clear and present need for equitable relief.”
Iowa Utils. Bd. v.
F.C.C., 109 F.3d 418, 425 (8th Cir. 1996) (per curiam) (citations
“Irreparable harm occurs when a party has no adequate
remedy at law, typically because its injuries cannot be fully
compensated through an award of damages.”
Gen. Motors Corp. v.
Harry Brown’s, LLC, 563 F.3d 312, 319 (8th Cir. 2009).
substantial likelihood of success on the merits, indicating that
irreparable harm is unlikely.
At this stage in the proceedings,
however, the record is not developed and “a decision on the merits”
Supplement, Inc., 182 F.3d 598, 603 (8th Cir. 1999) (citations
As a result, the court examines the potential harm
alleged by Perkins.
constitutes irreparable harm.
Specifically, Perkins argues that,
because of the cessation of benefits, she is now homeless and has
been unable to secure affordable housing.
See Ver. Compl. ¶¶ 63-
Such injury is sufficient to demonstrate irreparable harm in
the absence of a preliminary injunction.
See Jackson v. Jacobs,
971 F. Supp. 560, 565 (N.D. Ga. 1997) (“[L]oss of subsidized
Therefore, this Dataphase factor weighs in favor of injunctive
Balance of Harms
Under this factor, “a court should flexibly weigh the case’s
particular circumstances to determine whether ... justice requires
the court to intervene to preserve the status quo.”
Corp. v. Clorox Co., 140 F.3d 1175, 1179 (8th Cir. 1998) (citation
and internal quotation marks omitted).
As already explained,
Perkins has demonstrated the possibility of irreparable harm. That
harm is balanced, however, by Metro HRA’s interests in the uniform
Therefore, the balance of harms does not strongly
favor either party, and this Dataphase factor is neutral.
Finally, Perkins argues that the public interest weighs in
favor of reinstating her Section 8 benefits. Specifically, Perkins
See Jackson, 971 F. Supp. at 565.
explained, however, Perkins has not demonstrated a substantial
likelihood of success on the merits.
Moreover, Metro HRA argues
that the public interest weighs in favor of denying relief, as
Section 8 is not an entitlement program and there are hundreds of
families on the waiting list for Section 8 assistance. Given these
competing interests, the court determines that this Dataphase
factor weighs slightly in favor of injunctive relief.
determines that a preliminary injunction is not warranted.
Accordingly, based on the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the
motion for preliminary injunction [ECF No. 10] is denied.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
May 23, 2014
s/David S. Doty
David S. Doty, Judge
United States District Court
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