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Clark v. Lafayette Place Lofts

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 21, 2015

WILLIE T. CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
LAFAYETTE PLACE LOFTS, et al, Defendant

Willie T. Clark, Plaintiff, Pro se, Pontiac, MI.

For Lafayette Place Lofts, West Construction Services, Kyle Westberg, Brent Westberg, Bob Davis, Defendants: James F. Hunt, Johnston, Sztykiel & Hunt, P.C., Troy, MI.

For State of Michigan, Department of Civil Rights, Defendant: Ron D. Robinson, Michigan Department of Attorney General, Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Division, Detroit, MI.

Michael Hluchaniuk, United States Magistrate Judge. Linda V. Parker, United States District Judge.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL RIGHTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PURSUANT TO FED. R. CIV. 12(b)(1) AND (6) (Dkt. 23)

Michael Hluchaniuk, United States Magistrate Judge

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On June 26, 2014, plaintiff Willie T. Clark brought this action against defendants Lafayette Place Lofts, West Construction Services, and several individuals. (Dkt. 1). On July 17, 2014, plaintiff filed an amended complaint, adding the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (" MDCR") as a defendant. (Dkt. 10). Plaintiff alleges violations of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988, the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Act, and the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. (Id.) On September 22, 2014, District Judge Linda V. Parker referred this matter to the undersigned for all pretrial matters. (Dkt. 31). On August 20, 2014, defendant MDCR filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), (3) and (6). (Dkt. 23). Plaintiff filed a response to this motion on December 29, 2014. (Dkt. 40). The Court notified the parties that, pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), the motion will be determined without oral argument. (Dkt. 33). This motion is now ready for report and recommendation.

For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that defendant MDCR's motion to dismiss (Dkt. 23) be GRANTED and that plaintiff's claims against defendant MDCR be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On or about April 1, 2013, plaintiff filed a race and disability civil rights complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (" MDCR"), No. 442275, against Defendant, Lafayette Place Lofts (" Lafayette Place"), an apartment complex located in Pontiac, Michigan. (Dkt. 23, Ex. A, MDCR Complaint). Specifically, Plaintiff is an African American male who claimed that his rental application was denied because of his race (in that he alleged that most of the tenants at Lafayette Place were white) and his disability (Schizophrenia), because none of the representatives he spoke with were disabled, suggesting that Lafayette Place was not receptive to disabled individuals. (Id.). As required by state law, the MDCR conducted an investigation of plaintiff's complaint. (Dkt. 23-3, Ex. B, MDCR Determination). Documents provided by defendant Lafayette Place revealed that plaintiff's rental application was denied because of his criminal history and his poor credit score. (Id.). While Plaintiff's credit score of 522 was not fatal to his rental application, his criminal background check also included convictions for controlled substances, manufacturing and delivering, and armed robbery. (Id.) Of particular significance was plaintiff's armed robbery conviction, which was considered violent in nature and contrary to Lafayette Place's rental policy. (Id.) Another factor which played a role in the denial of plaintiff's rental application involved an incident where plaintiff came onto the property intoxicated and got into an altercation with a manager. (Id.).

In reference to plaintiff's race and disability claims, the MDCR investigated these claims and found that the Lafayette Place had forty-five units in total, of which, twenty were occupied by black tenants, twenty by white tenants, and four by other ethnic groups. (Dkt. 23-3, Ex. B, MDCR Determination). Also, the investigation found that Lafayette Place had three residents who were black and disabled. (Id.) Based on all these factors, the MDCR concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support plaintiff's race and disability complaints and that this matter would be dismissed. (Dkt. 23-3, Ex. B, MDCR Determination; Dkt. 23-4, Ex. C, Notice of Disposition and Order of Dismissal).

Plaintiff requested a reconsideration of this determination, but that request was denied on December 12, 2013. (Dkt. 23-5, Ex. D, MDCR's Letter Denying Reconsideration). Under state law, a person aggrieved by a final determination by the MDCR may seek a review of that determination in state circuit court within 30 days. MCL 37.2606. Plaintiff failed to pursue his state remedies and instead filed this action in federal court.

III. ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS


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