Boyer et al v. Scott Brothers Investment Corporation
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, [Doc. No. 47 ], is denied, without prejudice to refiling with the appropriate proof of Defendant's claims. Signed by District Judge Henry E. Autrey on 2/15/13. (TRC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
LAURIE BOYER and PATRICIA
SCOTT BROTHERS INVESTMENT CORP.,
d/b/a Waterways Apartments of Lake St. Louis,
) Case No. 4:11CV1173 HEA
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment, [Doc. No. 48]. Plaintiffs have filed an opposition to the Motion,
however, they have not filed a separate statement of material facts to which they
argue are in dispute. Defendant has replied to Plaintiffs’ Opposition. For the
reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.
Plaintiff brought this action alleging a violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42
U.S.C. § 3601, et. seq. by discriminating against Plaintiff Laurie, and retaliating
against both Plaintiffs by exercising its discretion to terminate a lease agreement
between Plaintiff Laurie and Defendant. Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint alleges
that Plaintiff Laurie suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety,
depression, and other physical and mental disabilities.
Plaintiffs Amended Complaint alleges that when Plaintiff Laurie applied for
the lease, she requested a reasonable accommodation from Defendant for her
doctor prescribed service and companion animal. The lease was modified to
include Plaintiffs’ three pet cats, but said nothing about the service animal.
Further, Plaintiffs allege that soon after they moved into the apartment, the
tenants directly above them began engaging in “unreasonable” conduct, including
smoking against municipal law, urinating off the deck, throwing lit cigarette butts
on Plaintiff Laurie from the deck above. Plaintiffs also claim that acrid smells and
fumes were emanating from above. Plaintiff Susan complained to Defendant and
explained that the fumes and smoke were affecting the service dog.
According to Plaintiffs, Defendant, in retaliation for their complaints, began
asking questions about the dog and demanded medical records of Plaintiff Laurie to
prove she had a disability. Plaintiffs offered to provide a doctor’s letter, if her
information was kept confidential. Defendant thereafter sent a “termination” letter,
claimed that Plaintiffs were a safety threat to their neighbors, and began eviction
Plaintiffs claim Defendant violated the Fair Housing Act; were negligent in
failing to train personnel regarding federal and state housing discrimination laws
and in failing to hire persons familiar with discrimination laws and in failing to
discipline or terminate employees who did not comply with the federal and state
faire housing laws; and breached a covenant of good faith and fair dealing in
exercising its discretion to terminate the lease.
Summary Judgment Standard
The standard for summary judgment is well settled. In determining whether
summary judgment should issue, the Court must view the facts and inferences from
the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Woods v.
DaimlerChrysler Corp., 409 F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir. 2005); Littrell v. City of
Kansas City, Mo., 459 F.3d 918, 921 (8th Cir. 2006). The moving party has the
burden to establish both the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and that it is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Anderson v.. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986); Enterprise Bank v. Magna Bank, 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). Once
the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party may not rest on the
allegations in his pleadings but by affidavit or other evidence must set forth
specific facts showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e); Anderson 477 U.S. at 256; Littrell, 459 F.3d at 921. “The party opposing
summary judgment may not rest on the allegations in its pleadings; it must ‘set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.’ “ United of
Omaha Life Ins. Co. v. Honea, 458 F.3d 788, 791 (8th Cir.2006) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)); “ ‘Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment.’ “ Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Hitt v.
Harsco Corp., 356 F.3d 920, 923 (8th Cir.2004). An issue of fact is genuine when
“a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party” on the question.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Woods, 409 F.3d at 990.
To survive a motion for summary judgment, the “nonmoving party must
‘substantiate his allegations with sufficient probative evidence [that] would permit
a finding in [his] favor based on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or
fantasy.’” Wilson v. Int'l Bus. Mach. Corp., 62 F.3d 237, 241 (8th Cir.1995)
(quotations omitted). Putman v. Unity Health Sys., 348 F.3d 732, 733–34 (8th
Cir.2003). A party may not merely point to unsupported self-serving allegations,
but must substantiate allegations with sufficient probative evidence that would
permit a finding in the plaintiff's favor. Wilson v. Int'l Bus. Mach. Corp., 62 F.3d
237, 241 (8th Cir.1995). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support
of the [party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the
jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. 242 at 252;
Davidson & Assocs. v. Jung 422 F.3d 630, 638 (8th Cir.2005) Summary judgment
is proper if a plaintiff fails to establish any element of the prima facie case. Nesser
v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 160 F.3d 442, 444 (8th Cir.1998) (citing Weber v.
American Express Co., 994 F.2d 513, 515–16)). “Mere allegations, unsupported by
specific facts or evidence beyond the nonmoving party's own conclusions, are
insufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment.” Thomas v. Corwin, 483
F.3d 516, 526–27(8th Cir.2007). Summary judgment will be granted when, viewing
the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and giving the
nonmoving party the benefit of all reasonable inferences, there are no genuine
issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Samuels v. Kan. City Mo. Sch.Dist., 437 F.3d 797, 801 (8th Cir.2006).
Defendant argues that Plaintiffs did not provide the proper documentation
which it reasonably requested of Plaintiffs to substantiate Laurie’s disability.
However, the record at the point is completely devoid of any evidence1 of any
request by Defendant to verify Plaintiff Laurie’s request for her service dog.
Moreover, Defendant’s statement of facts fails to detail with reliable, admissible
Defendant’s Memorandum in Support of its Motion claims that the letter to Plaintiffs
was attached to the Memorandum, however, no exhibit was filed along with the Memorandum.
evidence of Defendant’s position that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
While it may be that Defendant can support its arguments with evidence, Defendant
has not yet provide the Court with a sufficient upon which to determine that there
exist no genuine issues of material fact. Indeed, Defendant’s memorandum
continuously states that Plaintiffs have failed to state a cause of action, which is
clearly the standard for dismissal of an action rather than the standard for entry of
As stated above, summary judgment is only appropriate when there are no
material issues of fact. Here, issues of fact exist which go to the question at the
heart of the litigation; namely, whether Defendant requested reasonable
documentation for Plaintiff Laurie’s request for reasonable accommodation.
Summary Judgment is therefore not appropriate at this time.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment, [Doc. No. 47], is denied, without prejudice to refiling with the
appropriate proof of Defendant’s claims.
Dated this 15th day of February, 2013.
HENRY EDWARD AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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