Rodney v. Yale Realty LLC
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER: The Court grants plaintiff's 2 request to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 for the purpose of this Order. The claims alleged on behalf of plaintiff's daughter Annal iese Austin are dismissed without prejudice with leave to re-file should plaintiff obtain counsel to represent her daughter. However, the complaint shall proceed as to plaintiff Abigail Rodney. The Clerk of Court is directed to issue a summons an d the United States Marshal Service is directed to serve the summons, the complaint, and this Order on the defendant without prepayment of fees. The case is referred to the Honorable Lois Bloom, United States Magistrate Judge, for pretrial supervi sion. The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith, and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for purpose of an appeal. SO ORDERED by Judge Brian M. Cogan, on 7/5/2017. C/mailed. (Latka-Mucha, Wieslawa)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
ABIGAIL RODNEY and o/b/o ANNALIESE
DECISION AND ORDER
17 Civ. 3921 (BMC)
YALE REALTY LLC,
COGAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff Abigail Rodney, appearing pro se, filed this action alleging housing
discrimination based on her race and her daughter’s disability against defendant Yale Realty
LLC. The Court grants plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915 for the purpose of this Order. The claims alleged on behalf of plaintiff’s daughter
Annaliese Austin are dismissed without prejudice as set forth below.
The following is taken from plaintiff’s complaint and is assumed to be true for the
purpose of this Order. Plaintiff alleges that on September 22, 2016, she sublet an apartment at
2440 East 29th Street, Brooklyn, New York from the primary tenant John Middleton. Plaintiff
alleges that she notified defendant Yale Realty LLC and that defendant agreed to let her sublet
the apartment. At some point, the primary tenant was arrested for assaulting plaintiff and did not
return to the apartment.
Plaintiff alleges that once defendant learned that she was African American, defendant
failed to make repairs in the apartment, accept her rent payments, issue her a renewal lease, and
has commenced eviction proceedings. Plaintiff also alleges that her daughter is severely disabled
and that defendant learned of her daughter’s disability when a social worker contacted defendant
regarding repairs needed in the apartment. Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive relief.
A complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face,” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), and “allow the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although all allegations contained in the complaint are
assumed to be true, this tenet is “inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “[A]
pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted); see also Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009).
Thus, pro se complaints are “to be liberally construed,” Ahlers v. Rabinowitz, 684 F.3d 53, 60
(2d Cir. 2012), and interpreted “to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest,” Graham v.
Henderson, 89 F.3d 75, 79 (2d Cir. 1996). Furthermore, pursuant to the in forma pauperis
statute, the Court must dismiss an action if it determines that it “(i) is frivolous or malicious, (ii)
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (iii) seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Although federal law affords parties a statutory right to “plead and conduct their own
cases,” 28 U.S.C. §1654, that statute does not permit “unlicensed laymen to represent anyone
else other than themselves.” Lattanzio v. COMTA, 481 F.3d 137, 139 (2d Cir. 2007) (internal
quotation marks omitted); Guest v. Hansen, 603 F.3d 15, 20 (2d Cir. 2010) (“A person who has
not been admitted to the practice of law may not represent anybody other than himself.”).
Generally, non-lawyer parents do not have the right to represent their children in federal court.
Cheung v. Youth Orchestra Found. of Buffalo, Inc., 906 F.2d 59, 61 (2d Cir. 1990) (“a nonattorney parent must be represented by counsel in bringing an action on behalf of his or her
child.”); Iannaccone v. Law, 142 F.3d 553, 558 (2d Cir. 1998) (“[B]ecause pro se means to
appear for one’s self, a lay person may not represent a corporation or a partnership or appear on
behalf of his or her own child.”).
To the extent plaintiff Abigail Rodney brings this action on behalf of her child, Annaliese
Austin, she cannot do so. Therefore, any claims related to Annaliese Austin are dismissed
without prejudice. If plaintiff would like to bring claims for her daughter, plaintiff must obtain
counsel to represent her daughter.
However, plaintiff has a right to proceed pro se as to her own claims, and the Court
liberally construes her claims to arise under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et
seq. The FHA forbids discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial
status, national origin, and disability status. See 42 U.S.C. § 3604. Further, the provisions of the
FHA apply to private landlords. Rappo v. 94-11 59th Ave Corp., No. 11-CV-4371, 2011 WL
5873025, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 21, 2011).
Accordingly, the claims as to Annaliese Austin are dismissed without prejudice with
leave to re-file should plaintiff obtain counsel to represent her daughter. However, the complaint
shall proceed as to plaintiff Abigail Rodney. The Clerk of Court is directed to issue a summons
and the United States Marshal Service is directed to serve the summons, the complaint, and this
Order on the defendant without prepayment of fees. The case is referred to the Honorable Lois
Bloom, United States Magistrate Judge, for pretrial supervision.
The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order
would not be taken in good faith, and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for purpose of
an appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962).
Digitally signed by Brian
Brooklyn, New York
July 5, 2017
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?