Petties et al v. Stony Ridge Apartments et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER that the plaintiffs must file an amended complaint within 30 days. Failure to file an amended complaint will result in the court dismissing this case without further notice. The clerk of the court is directed to set a pro se case management deadline in this case using the following text: March 22, 2016: check for amended complaint. The clerk of the court is directed to terminate the following individuals as plaintiffs: E.P. Petties, I.M. Petties, A.P. Petties, and B.P. Petties. Ordered by Senior Judge Richard G. Kopf. (Copy mailed to pro se party) (JSF)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
LERONE PETTIES, CAROL
PETTIES, E.P. PETTIES, I.M.
PETTIES, A.P. PETTIES, and B.P.
STONY RIDGE APARTMENTS,
IRON OAKS PROPERTIES,
BRENTON T. LUETCHENS,
CINDY SIENE, and LINCOLN
This matter is before the court on initial review of Lerone and Carol Petties’
(together, “the plaintiffs”) Complaint (Filing No. 1). For the reasons that follow, the
court will give the plaintiffs 30 days in which to file an amended complaint that states
a claim on which relief may be granted.
I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
The plaintiffs filed this action against Stony Ridge Apartments, Iron Oak
Properties, Brenton Luetchens, Cindy Siene, and the Lincoln Housing Authority.
Their allegations are difficult to decipher.
It appears the plaintiffs signed a one-year lease with one or more of the
defendants, agreeing to reside at the Stony Ridge Apartments. At some point prior to
signing the lease, Lerone Petties (“Lerone”) filed a complaint about how the
apartments were maintained and also about the “security of the apartment.” (Filing
No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 2.) The plaintiffs’ remaining allegations are as follows:
Lerone received an eviction notice with “no legal or any other right to have
[his] lease terminated.” (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 2.)
Lerone was advised during a hearing that he was evicted “due to other means.”
but those other means were “never presented with this allegation.” (Filing No.
1 at CM/ECF p. 2.)
On August 24, 2015, Lerone informed an official of the Lincoln Housing
Authority named “Jessica” that Cindy Siene would not accept his rent check for
the third week in a row. Jessica advised him not to go to court because he
would “loose [sic] [his] voucher.” (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 3.)
Lerone informed Jessica that Cindy would “work something out with [Carol
Petties] but wouldn’t take no money from [Lerone].” (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF
The Attorney General “showed up in [Lerone’s] favor on the hearing date” and
felt Lerone was “being picked on and treated inhuman.” (Filing No. 1 at
CM/ECF p. 3.)
The landlord stated Lerone would have to leave the apartment, but his family
could stay. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF P. 4.)
Lerone is African American and his wife is Caucasian. (Filing No. 1 at
CM/ECF p. 4.)
The plaintiffs claim Lerone was evicted “due to the color of his skin” and
“because [he filed] a housing complaint.” (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF. 4.) For relief,
the plaintiffs seek renewal of their lease, an apology, and compensatory damages.
(Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 6.)
II. STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must
dismiss a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or malicious claim, that
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Pro se plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to “nudge their
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible,” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”).
“The essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair notice of the nature and basis or grounds
for a claim, and a general indication of the type of litigation involved.’” Topchian v.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Hopkins v.
Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir. 1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must
be liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a lesser pleading standard than
other parties.” Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks and citations
Fair Housing Act
Liberally construed, the plaintiffs seek relief under the Fair Housing Act, see 42
U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of
race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a)-(e).
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to “refuse to sell or rent after the making of
a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make
unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a).
It also prohibits discrimination “in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental
of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith,
because of race[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b).
Here, the plaintiffs may have claims under the Fair Housing Act, but their
allegations are so vague, disjointed, and conclusory that the court cannot make out a
plausible claim for relief against any of the named defendants. Specifically, the
plaintiffs allege Lerone was subjected to racial discrimination, but they do not specify
who discriminated against him. Moreover, the court cannot discern from the
allegations who evicted Lerone from the apartment complex or what relationship
Cindy Siene—the individual who accepted money from Carol Petties, but not
Lerone—has to the apartment complex.
On the court’s own motion, the plaintiffs will be given 30 days in which to file
an amended complaint that identifies each defendant and clearly explains what each
defendant did to them, when they did it, and how their actions harmed the plaintiffs.
The amended complaint will supersede the plaintiffs’ original Complaint. They are
encouraged to use the court-approved form to draft their amended complaint, which
the clerk of the court will provide to them. They must clearly designate on the fact of
the document that it is their “Amended Complaint” in this case.
The plaintiffs also named four other individuals as plaintiffs in the caption of
their Complaint, E.P. Petties, I.M. Petties, A.P. Petties, and B.P. Petties. The court
can reasonably infer from the plaintiffs’ allegations that these individuals are the
The plaintiffs cannot represent their children’s interests in federal court. First,
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(a) requires that all pro se parties to a case sign
every pleading, written motion, and other paper that they submit to the court. Rule
11(a) helps to ensure that pro se parties consent to the filing of documents on their
behalf. See United States v. Brenton, No. 8:04CR262, 2007 WL 3124539, at *1-2 (D.
Neb. Oct. 23, 2007) (discussing Johnson v. O’Donnell, No. 01-C-0257-C, 2001 WL
34372892 (W.D. Wis. Aug 24, 2001)). Second, it is improper for a non-lawyer to sign
papers in place of, or to otherwise represent, parties other than themselves. See id. at
*1 (citing 5A C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1333, at 513
& n.15 (2004)).
For these reasons, the court will direct the clerk of the court to terminate the
following individuals as plaintiffs: E.P. Petties, I.M. Petties, A.P. Petties, and B.P.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:
The plaintiffs must file an amended complaint within 30 days. Failure
to file an amended complaint will result in the court dismissing this case without
The clerk of the court is directed to set a pro se case management
deadline in this case using the following text: March 22, 2016: check for amended
The clerk of the court is directed to terminate the following individuals
as plaintiffs: E.P. Petties, I.M. Petties, A.P. Petties, and B.P. Petties.
DATED this 19th day of February, 2016.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge
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