United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Defendant HUD's
“Motion to Dismiss” (doc. 14), and Plaintiff
Johnston's response to the court's order that she
show cause why this case should not be dismissed for failure
to state a claim for which relief can be granted (doc. 18).
Ms. Johnston filed this suit against HUD, alleging physical
and economic injury resulting from deficient maintenance of
her housing complex. (Doc. 5 at 3).
neither owns nor manages Ms. Johnston's housing complex,
and Ms. Johnston provides no other means by which HUD could
be held liable for Ms. Johnston's alleged injuries.
Therefore, HUD's motion to dismiss Ms. Johnston's
claims is due to be GRANTED. The court also finds that
granting Ms. Johnston leave to amend would be futile, and her
case is due to be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss attacks the legal sufficiency of
the complaint. Generally, the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure require only that the complaint 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)). A plaintiff must provide
the grounds of her entitlement, but Rule 8 generally does not
require “detailed factual allegations.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting
Conley, 355 U.S. at 47). It does, however,
“demand[ ] more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Pleadings that contain nothing more than “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action” do not
meet Rule 8 standards nor do pleadings suffice that are based
merely upon “labels or conclusions” or
“naked assertions” without supporting factual
allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557.
Supreme Court explained that “[t]o survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (quoting and explaining its decision in
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To be plausible on its
face, the claim must contain enough facts that “allow[
] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Although “[t]he
plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability
requirement, '” the complaint must demonstrate
“more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Id. “Where a
complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a
defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line
between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to
relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 557). If the court determines that well-pleaded
facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is
plausible, the claim must be dismissed. Id.
Johnston, pro se, filed this suit against HUD on
August 21, 2017. (Doc. 1). On August 22, 2017, the court
ordered her to file an amended complaint complying with Rule
8 of the Fed.R.Civ.P. (Doc. 3). In her amended complaint, Ms.
Johnston alleges that the management of Tom Brown Village and
the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District failed to
respond to her complaints regarding “a broken
refrigerator, water leakage and damages, serious mold, bed
bugs, roaches, structural, electrical and other
issues.” (Doc. 5 at 3). Ms. Johnston claims that their
failure to respond to her complaints caused her and her four
children to become ill and to be hospitalized on various
occasions. (Id.). Notably, her only mention of HUD
is that Legal Aid filed a grievance with HUD against the
HABD. (Docs. 1 at 4; 5 at 5).
then filed its motion to dismiss Ms. Johnston's suit for
failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted,
arguing that Ms. Johnston based her lawsuit on the mistaken
belief that HUD owns or manages Tom Brown Village and the
HABD. (Doc. 14). In support of the motion, HUD produced
evidence showing that Tom Brown Village is owned and managed
by the HABD, which is governed by a board of commissioners
appointed by the mayor of the City of Birmingham. HUD also
produced persuasive authority showing that it has no legal
duty to ensure the habitability of housing leased by Tom
Brown Village or the HABD. See Hale v. Chicago Housing
Authority, 642 F.Supp. 1107, 1109 (N.D. Ill. 1986) (the
United States Housing Act does not create such a duty, nor is
there an implied cause of action against HUD for failure to
enforce regulations governing safety and sanitation).
Johnston's response to HUD's motion to dismiss, she
concedes that she misunderstood HUD's relationship to the
HABD and Tom Brown Village, and appears to allege that her
claims should be directed at Tom Brown Village or the HABD
rather than HUD. (Doc. 18 at 1). Given this concession, along
with the absence of any argument or showing that she has a
plausible cause of action against HUD, the court finds that
Ms. Johnston has not provided any legitimate reason that her
claims against HUD should not be dismissed. Therefore, the
court will dismiss Ms. Johnston's claims against HUD for
failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted.
the fact that Ms. Johnston named only HUD as a defendant in
her lawsuit, Ms. Johnston's response to the court's
show cause order asks the court to allow her suit to move
forward, presumably against the owners and management of Tom
Brown Village and the HABD. (Doc. 18 at 1). While the court
does recognize that a pro se complaint,
“however inartfully pleaded, ” is held “to
less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers, ” Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9
(1980), the court finds no basis for which it could assert
subject matter jurisdiction over Ms. Johnston's potential
claims against the supposed defendants.
Ms. Johnston could potentially bring her claims in an Alabama
state court, nothing suggests that she could bring them in a
federal court: the court lacks any basis for concluding that
Tom Brown Village or HADB is a citizen of a different state
than Ms. Johnston, and her potential claims are state-law
claims that do not arise under federal law. Therefore, even
if the court dismissed this action with leave to amend, such
an order would be futile.
Ms. Johnston has failed to state a claim against HUD for
which relief can be granted, her claims against HUD are due
to be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The court
also finds that extending Ms. Johnston a second opportunity
to amend her complaint would be futile because this court
would not have ...