Blakney v. Mississippi Regional Housing Authority 8
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting 43 Motion for Summary Judgment Signed by Chief District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr. on 6/7/2017 (wld)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CAUSE NO. 1:16CV129-LG-RHW
HOUSING AUTHORITY 8
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT FILED BY DEFENDANT
BEFORE THE COURT is the  Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendant Mississippi Regional Housing Authority VIII (who states that it was
incorrectly identified in the Complaint as “Mississippi Housing Authority 8”).
Plaintiff J.T. Blakney, who is proceeding pro se, has not responded to the Motion,
and the time for doing so has expired. Having reviewed the Motion and the
applicable law, the Court is of the opinion that the Motion should be granted and
that Plaintiff Blakney’s claims in this action should be dismissed with prejudice.
In addition, the Housing Authority requests that the Court tax costs against
Blakney, but did not support this request with any law or argument. Taking into
account Blakney’s pro se status, the Court does not find this request well-taken and
will deny it.
For over ten years, Blakney has resided at Guice Place, an apartment
complex in Gulfport, Mississippi managed by the Housing Authority. In his
Complaint, Blakney states that the Housing Authority, as his landlord, attempted
to have him sign a “lease that doesn’t have in it the accommodation for people with
disabilities which is HUD regulation that is suppose[d] to be put in the lease.”
(Compl. 1, ECF No. 1). He also states that the Housing Authority “violated the
optional and supplemental contact information for HUD-assisted housing
applicants [by] never sending my son letter dated August 3, 2015.” (Id.). The
Housing Authority has moved for summary judgment in its favor on both of these
claims, and the Court will therefore discuss each claim in turn below.
A motion for summary judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In reviewing a motion for
summary judgment, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-movant. Abarca v. Metro. Transit Auth., 404 F.3d 938, 940 (5th Cir. 2005).
Even so, “[t]he non-movant must go beyond the pleadings and come forward with
specific facts indicating a genuine issue for trial to avoid summary judgment.” See
id. Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant fails to make a showing
sufficient to show the existence of an element essential to that party’s case and on
which that party has the burden of proof at trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
Blakney has not submitted any argument or evidence in opposition to the
Housing Authority’s Motion. Nevertheless, the Housing Authority bears the burden
of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and, unless it has
done so, the Court may not grant the Motion, regardless of whether any response
was filed. Hibernia Nat’l Bank v. Administracion Cent. Sociedad Anonima, 776
F.2d 1277, 1279 (5th Cir. 1985). But the Court will not, in the absence of proof,
assume that Blakney could or would prove the necessary facts. See Little v. Liquid
Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). Indeed, “although the pleadings filed
by pro se parties are held to ‘less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted
by lawyers,’ pro se parties must still comply with the rules of procedure and make
arguments capable of withstanding summary judgment.” Ogbodiegwu v. Wackenut
Corr. Corp., 202 F.3d 265, *2 (5th Cir. 1999) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972); Grant v. Cellular, 59 F.3d 523, 524 (5th Cir. 1995)); see also Oviedo v.
Lowe’s Home Improvement, Inc., 184 F. App’x 411, 413 (5th Cir. 2006).
The omitted section of Blakney’s lease form related to reasonable
accommodations for persons with disabilities. It remains undisputed that the
Housing Authority removed this section from all leases because this section
“contained language that was repetitive of language contained in much more
extensive policies that [the Housing Authority] provides [in] a reasonable
accommodation packet” given to Guice Place tenants. (See Dec. of Jessie Billups ¶9,
Ex. 1 to Mot. For Summ. J., ECF No. 45-1). “Based on the contents of the packet,
including the reasonable accommodation language in the lease form was
unnecessary.” (Id.). The Housing Authority has submitted relevant portions of the
packet, as well as Blakney’s discovery responses in which he admits that he
received the packet. The failure to include the reasonable accommodation
information in the lease itself does not violate any HUD or other regulation, and
Blakney has not otherwise alleged that he requested a reasonable accommodation
that was denied. The Housing Authority is entitled to summary judgment on this
Furthermore, while unclear, to the extent that Blakney is attempting to state
a claim for disparate treatment disability discrimination under the Fair Housing
Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. § 3604, et seq., that claim fails as well. Even if Blakney could
establish that he is disabled, there is no genuine issue of material fact that the
Housing Authority omitted the reasonable accommodation section from the leases of
all Guice Place tenants, not simply his. See, e.g., Schwarz v. City of Treasure
Island, 544 F.3d 1201, 1216 (11th Cir. 2008) (FHA plaintiff must “show that he has
actually been treated differently than similarly situated” non-disabled people).1
In pertinent part, 42 U.S.C. § 13604 provides that a federal housing applicant
like Blakney has the option to provide the name, contact information, and “other
If Blakney is trying to state some other claim under HUD regulations, the
FHA, or other federal authority, he has not come forward with any argument or
evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact that the Housing
Authority violated federal law. The same is true for Blakney’s claim related to
contacting his son, discussed in further detail herein.
relevant information of a family member” with his housing application. The
Housing Authority is thereafter required “to maintain such information for any
applicants who become tenants of the housing, for the purposes of facilitating
contact . . . with such person . . . to assist in providing any services or special care
for the tenant and assist in resolving any relevant tenancy issues arising during the
tenancy of such tenant.” See 42 U.S.C. § 13604(b).
On July 27, 2015, Blakney completed the “Optional and Supplemental
Contact Information for HUD-Assisted Housing Applicants” form and listed his son
Jordan Blakney as his supplemental contact, including Jordan’s address. (See Dec.
of Jessie Billups Ex. F, Ex. 1 to Mot. For Summ. J., ECF No. 45-1). On August 3,
2015, the Housing Authority sent Blakney a letter regarding a tenancy issue and
sent a copy of the letter to Jordan at the address provided by Blakney, but the letter
was returned as undeliverable. (See id. at Ex. E). Blakney has not disputed any of
this evidence, and his Complaint allegations that the Housing Authority did not
send a copy of the letter to Jordan are insufficient to overcome summary judgment.
See Abarca, 404 F.3d at 940. That Jordan ultimately did not receive the letter –
because Blakney provided the wrong address or for some other reason – does not
amount to a violation of federal law. Accordingly, the Court will also grant
summary judgment to the Housing Authority on this claim.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the  Motion
for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Mississippi Regional Housing Authority
VIII is GRANTED. This action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendant’s request
that costs be taxed against Plaintiff is DENIED. However, Plaintiff is cautioned
against filing further lawsuits based on these same facts.
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the 7th day of June, 2017.
Louis Guirola, Jr.
LOUIS GUIROLA, JR.
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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