RANIERI v. BUTAKIS
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE JOEL H. SLOMSKY ON 9/15/2016. 9/16/2016 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE.(kp, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
DIRECTOR CHRISTINE BUTAKIS
Currently before the Court is plaintiff Daniel Ranieri's motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis and pro se civil complaint against Christine Butakis, the Director of Admission
at the Delaware County Housing Authority. For the following reasons, the Court will grant
plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his complaint.
Plaintiff alleges that he applied for public housing with the Delaware County Housing
Authority in 2012, and renewed his application each year in August, but never received housing.
He claims that, despite his many applications, he was not told that a criminal record would
disqualify him for housing assistance even though he informed his case worker that he had been
"in and out of prison for many years especially from August 2012 to today."
Accordingly, he instituted this lawsuit seeking damages in excess of $15,000 for "mental abuse
caused by the defendant[']s insensitive behavior at the cost of others." (Id.
V.) In that regard,
plaintiff contends that, for five and a half years, he "held on to hope that one day his housing
problem would end only to now find out" that he had apparently been denied from the beginning
of the process, presumably as a result of his criminal record. (Id.) Plaintiff would like to see all
of the criminal background checks that the Delaware County Housing Authority conducted on
approved applications and alleges that the Delaware County Housing Authority does not treat all
Plaintiffs motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted because it appears that he is
incapable of paying the fees to commence this civil action. As plaintiff is proceeding in forma
pauperis, the Court is required to screen the complaint and dismiss it if, among other things, it
fails to state a claim. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). To survive dismissal, the complaint
must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). "[M]ere
conclusory statements do not suffice." Id. As plaintiff is proceedingpro se, the Court
construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
Even liberally construing the complaint, the Court cannot ascertain a plausible basis for a
federal claim against Butakis or the Delaware County Housing Authority from plaintiffs
allegations. That plaintiff was not informed beforehand that his criminal history could preclude
him from obtaining housing assistance does not violate any federal laws. To the extent plaintiff
intended to raise claims under the Fair Housing Act, his claims fail. The Fair Housing Act
renders it unlawful "[t]o 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, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. §
3604(a). It does not preclude consideration of an individual's criminal record in housing
decisions. See Talley v. Lane, 13 F.3d 1031, 1034 (7th Cir. 1994) ("[C]onsideration of an
applicant's criminal record is not forbidden under ... the Fair Housing Act."). To the extent
plaintiff sought to raise an equal protection claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, his claims fail
because criminals are not a protected class under the Equal Protection Clause and nothing in the
complaint suggests that plaintiff was treated differently from similarly-situated applicants for an
irrational reason so as to sustain a "class of one" claim. See Phillips v. Cnty. ofAllegheny, 515
F.3d 224, 243 (3d Cir. 2008) ("[T]o state a claim for 'class of one' equal protection, a plaintiff
must at a minimum allege that he was intentionally treated differently from others similarly
situated by the defendant and that there was no rational basis for such treatment."); Sanders v.
Cnty. of Bradford, No. CIV.A. 3:11-1723, 2013 WL 2435354, at *7 (M.D. Pa. June 4, 2013)
("[C]onvicted felons are not a suspect or quasi-suspect class for the purposes of an Equal
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss plaintiffs complaint. Plaintiff will not be
given leave to amend because it appears that amendment would be futile, as plaintiff primarily
appears to be seeking recovery for conduct that is not actionable under federal law. 1 An
appropriate order follows, which shall be docketed separately.
To the extent plaintiff sought to raise claims under state law, there is no apparent basis for
jurisdiction over those claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
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