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Allen v. Housing Authority of City of Auburn

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

February 27, 2015

CHARISSE ALLEN, Plaintiff,
v.
HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF AUBURN, ALABAMA; LEE EASTMAN, in his official Capacity as Executive Director of the Housing Authority; STAR PASCHAL, in her official capacity as Director of the Section 8 program for the Housing Authority of the City of Auburn, Alabama, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

W. KEITH WATKINS, Chief District Judge.

Before the court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint (Doc. # 17) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on grounds that the two-year statute of limitations bars Plaintiff's claims under the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-31 ("FHA"). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion (Doc. # 20) to which Defendants submitted a reply (Doc. # 21). A round of supplemental briefing followed. (Docs. # 22, 27.) After careful consideration, the court finds that the motion to dismiss is due to be granted.

I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

Subject-matter jurisdiction is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Personal jurisdiction and venue are not contested.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

When evaluating a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must take the facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Resnick v. AvMed, Inc., 693 F.3d 1317, 1321-22 (11th Cir. 2012). To survive Rule 12(b)(6) scrutiny, "a 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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "[F]acial plausibility" exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Under Rule 12(b)(6), "it is generally true that the scope of the review must be limited to the four corners of the complaint.'" Speaker v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs. Ctrs. for Disease Control & Prevention, 623 F.3d 1371, 1379 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting St. George v. Pinellas Cnty., 285 F.3d 1334, 1337 (11th Cir. 2002)). However, a court also can consider "an extrinsic document if it is (1) central to the plaintiff's claim, and (2) its authenticity is not challenged." Id .; see also Harris v. Ivax Corp., 182 F.3d 799, 802 n.2 (11th Cir. 1999) ("[A] document central to the complaint that the defense appends to its motion to dismiss is also properly considered, provided that its contents are not in dispute.").

Finally, "a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal on statute of limitations grounds is appropriate only if it is apparent from the face of the complaint that the claim is time-barred." La Grasta v. First Union Sec., Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). When the time bar is apparent from the face of the complaint, "the burden of alleging facts which would give rise to the tolling [of] the limitations period falls upon the plaintiff." Parrish v. City of Opp, Ala., 898 F.Supp. 839, 841 (M.D. Ala. 1995).

III. BACKGROUND

For a number of years, Plaintiff Charisse Allen received rent subsidies under Section 8, a housing-subsidy program that provides financial aid for "low-income families." 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(a). This action arises from Plaintiff's participation in that program, the discrimination she allegedly endured in connection with her request to transfer from one housing authority to another, and the termination of her Section 8 benefits.

A. The Section 8 Housing-Subsidy Program

The Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") funds the Section 8 program, but the administration of the program falls on local housing authorities, which "enter into annual contributing contracts with [HUD]." (Am. Compl. ¶ 9); see also 24 C.F.R. § 982.51. Under these contracts, "subsidies compensate landlords for the difference between the rent [that] tenants can afford and market rental rate." (Am. Compl. ¶ 9); see also 24 C.F.R. § 982.451. Within specified guidelines, a Section 8 participant can request a transfer (called a "port") from one housing authority to another. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10); see also 24 C.F.R. § 982.353 (discussing portability).

B. Ms. Allen's Port Request and HUD Complaint

In June 2010, while a tenant at the Tuskegee Housing Authority ("THA") in Tuskegee, Alabama, Ms. Allen "began the process of requesting a port" from the THA to the Auburn Housing Authority ("AHA") in Auburn, Alabama. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) In connection with her port request, Ms. Allen asked for a two-bedroom unit to accommodate her physical and mental disabilities.[1] By November 2010, the AHA had not approved her port request, but on November 5, 2010, Defendant Lee Eastman, AHA's executive director, acknowledged that he had received her request for a two-bedroom unit.[2] (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) Her port request still ...


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