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Nails v. Parkside Apartments

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

May 28, 2019

ANGELA NAILS, Plaintiff,
v.
PARKSIDE APARTMENTS, Defendant.

          LAURIE J. MICHELSON, DISTRICT JUDGE,

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MONA K. MAJZOUB, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This housing discrimination case comes before the court on three Motions to Dismiss – one filed by Defendant and two filed by Plaintiff. (Docket nos. 33, 36, 41.) Plaintiff filed a Response to Defendant’s Motion, to which Defendant replied (docket nos. 35, 37), and Defendant filed a Response to Plaintiff’s first Motion to Dismiss (docket no. 38). The time for response to Plaintiff’s second Motion to Dismiss has not yet passed. This action has been referred to the undersigned for all pretrial purposes. (Docket no. 26.) The undersigned has reviewed the pleadings, dispenses with oral argument on the Motions pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f), and issues this Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (docket no. 33) be GRANTED insofar as Defendant seeks dismissal of Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint with prejudice and DENIED insofar as Defendant seeks attorney’s fees and costs. It is further recommended that Plaintiff’s Motions to Dismiss this matter without prejudice (docket nos. 36, 41) be DENIED and that this matter be DISMISSED in its entirety, with prejudice.

         II. REPORT

         A. Background

         Plaintiff Angela Nails, proceeding pro se, initiated this action against Defendant Parkside Apartments on September 7, 2017. (Docket no. 1.) The undersigned subsequently recommended dismissal of this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) on the basis that Plaintiff’s initial Complaint and supplemental filings failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. (Docket no. 19.) Plaintiff objected to the recommendation of dismissal. (Docket no. 21.) The District Judge agreed that Plaintiff had failed to state facts that make out a plausible claim of housing discrimination but found that additional information provided by Plaintiff in her objection suggested that she might be able to state a claim. (Docket no. 22 at 3.) The District Judge therefore ordered Plaintiff to file an amended complaint that alleges facts that make out a Fair Housing Act or other federal claim, and since Plaintiff’s claim was seemingly based on racial discrimination, she advised that Plaintiff must plead facts that would allow a court to reasonably find that Defendant’s actions were taken on account of Plaintiff’s race. (Id.)

         Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on August 27, 2018. (Docket no. 25.) In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff informs that she is a black female. She asserts that in her quest for an apartment, she contacted Defendant about renting an apartment of any size. Defendant indicated that it did not have any apartments available at that time. Plaintiff asserts that she contacted Defendant again at a later date, and Defendant told Plaintiff that it had a one-bedroom apartment available. Plaintiff and Defendant then set up an appointment for Plaintiff to come in, see the available apartment, fill out a rental application, and have her credit reviewed. Plaintiff alleges that when she called Defendant on the day before the appointment to confirm and to ask questions about the application, Defendant told her that the apartment was no longer available because it was going to be rented to the white, male, family member of a current renter after he completed his application and his credit check came back. According to Plaintiff, Defendant said, “I know you will understand that family comes first.” She alleges that Defendant also told her that it did not rent apartments to people with a disability because the building did not have an elevator and it would be hard for a person with a disability to move up and down flights of stairs. Plaintiff further alleges that when she asked Defendant about the appointment that she had set up, Defendant seemed skeptical of answering her question. Plaintiff and Defendant have had no further contact.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant did not rent the apartment to her, a black female; it rented the apartment to a white male whose family member was already renting an apartment from Defendants. She alleges that she “has been discriminated against by the Defendant because the Defendant words, language to the Plaintiff.” She seeks damages under Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a), (d), and (f)(3)(B).

         B. Governing Law

         Defendant moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Docket no. 33.) When deciding a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007); Inge v. Rock Fin. Corp., 281 F.3d 613, 619 (6th Cir. 2002). The plaintiff must provide “‘a short and plain statement of the claim’ that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). But this statement “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The plaintiff cannot rely on “legal conclusions” or “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action;” instead, the plaintiff must plead “factual content that allows 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). This “facial plausibility” is required to “unlock the doors of discovery.” Id. To make this determination, the Iqbal Court set out the following two-step analysis:

[A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume ...

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