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Poursaied v. Reserve At Research Park LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division

May 13, 2019

SHAHNAZ POURSAIED, Plaintiff,
v.
RESERVE AT RESEARCH PARK LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          LILES C. BURKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Shahnaz Poursaied, filed this action pro se on October 3, 2018, asserting claims against her landlord, Reserve at Research Park LLC, [1] for violations of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 USC' 3604(f)(3)(B); Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (AURLTA),' 35-9A-101, et seq., Ala. Code 1975; and invasion of privacy. (Docs. 1 & 5). The case currently is before the Court on defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Doc. 5). Plaintiff filed a response on November 16, 2018. (Doc. 9). Upon review and for the reasons stated herein, the Court concludes that the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 5) is due to be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A. Rule 12(b)(1) - Dismissal for Lack Of Subject Matter Jurisdiction Federal district courts are tribunals of limited jurisdiction, “‘empowered to hear only those cases within the judicial power of the United States as defined by Article III of the Constitution,' and which have been entrusted to them by a jurisdictional grant authorized by Congress.” University of South Alabama v. The American Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 409 (11th Cir. 1999) (quoting Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994)). Accordingly, an “Article III court must be sure of its own jurisdiction before getting to the merits” of any action. Ortiz v. Fiberboard Corp., 527 U.S. 815, 831 (1999) (citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 88-89 (1998)).

         A motion to dismiss a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1).[2] When ruling upon a Rule 12(b)(1) motion asserting a lack of jurisdiction on the face of the plaintiff's complaint, the court must consider the allegations of the complaint as true. See Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 412 (5th Cir. 1981) (citations omitted).[3] On the other hand, “a ‘factual attack' on subject matter jurisdiction ‘challenge[s] the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, irrespective of the pleadings, and matters outside the pleadings, such as testimony and affidavits are considered.'” Douglas v. United States, 814 F.3d 1268, 1278 (11th Cir. 2016) (quoting In re CP Ships Ltd. Securities Litigation, 578 F.3d 1306, 1311-12 (11th Cir. 2009), abrogated on other grounds by Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd., 561 U.S. 247 (2010)) (alteration in original).

         B. Rule 12(b)(6) - Dismissal for Failure To State A Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a party to move to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). This rule must be read together with Rule 8(a), which requires that a pleading contain only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). While that pleading standard does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 550 (2007), it does demand “more than an unadorned, the- defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted).[4]

         Furthermore, whenever matters other than the pleadings are presented to, but not excluded by the district court when ruling upon a defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss a compliant for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the motion normally “must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56, ” and “[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d) (alterations supplied). In other words, “[a] court is generally limited to reviewing what is within the four corners of the complaint on a motion to dismiss.” Bickley v. Caremark RX, Inc., 461 F.3d 1325, 1329 n.7 (11th Cir. 2006) (alteration supplied).

         Even so, there are narrow exceptions to that general proposition. Indeed, the Eleventh Circuit has held that a district court “may consider a document attached to a motion to dismiss without converting the motion into one for summary judgment if the attached document is (1) central to the plaintiff's claim and (2) undisputed.” Day v. Taylor, 400 F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2005) (emphasis supplied). The term “undisputed” is defined as meaning that “the authenticity of the document is not challenged.” Id.

         Here, the only document outside the allegations of plaintiff's complaint and pleadings considered by this Court is the Apartment Lease Contract which is central to the plaintiff's claim and undisputed.

         In addition, parties who appear pro se are afforded a leniency not granted to those who are represented by counsel. Cf., e.g., Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (“It is settled law that the allegations of [a pro se complaint filed by a state prisoner], ‘however inartfully pleaded,' are held to ‘less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'”) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)); Harmon v. Berry, 728 F.2d 1407, 1409 (11th Cir. 1984) (same); Woodall v. Foti, 648 F.2d 268, 271 (5th Cir. 1981)[5] (“A pro se complaint, however inartfully drafted, must be held to less rigorous standards than the formal pleadings prepared by lawyers and can only be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it appears ‘beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'”) (quoting Haines). However, such leniency “. . . does not give a court license to serve as de facto counsel for a [pro se] party, see Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir.1991), or to rewrite an otherwise deficient pleading [by a pro se litigant] in order to sustain an action.” GJR Investments, Inc. v. Cty. of Escambia, Fla., 132 F.3d 1359, 1369 (11th Cir. 1998) overruled on other grounds by Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.1937 (2009). See also, Pontier v. City of Clearwater, 881 F.Supp. 1565, 1568 (M.D. Fla.1995). Furthermore, a court treats as true factual allegations, but it does not treat as true conclusory assertions or a recitation of a cause of action's elements. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681. A pro se litigant “is subject to the relevant law and rules of court including the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Moon v. Newsome, 863 F.2d 835, 837 (11th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 863 (1989).

         II. RELEVANT FACTS Plaintiff alleges that she has been harassed and criminally tortured by noise since 2006; that she is controlled by neighbors through noise; that the noise caused her to fall in 2017 resulting in injuries; and that the noise caused her to lose her job and flee her most recent apartment in North Carolina. (Doc. 1). In her response to defendant's motion she summarizes noise complaints and federal lawsuits that span three (3) prior apartment complexes in the State of North Carolina.[6] (Doc. 9). Central to her claims in this case are alleged warranties made by defendant that their apartments are “. . . quiet . . .[and] sound proof.” Id. As a result of this unwanted torturous noise, plaintiff alleges that she has suffered severe emotional damages in the amount of $ 300, 000. Id. In its motion to dismiss, defendant states that plaintiff makes “. . .no allegations about how this Defendant is in violation of this statute [FHA] or how this Defendant refused to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policy, practice or service. . . [and fails to allege] . . . how or why she is even protected by this statute.” (Doc. 5). Defendant filed a copy of the lease agreement with its motion. Id. It is undisputed that plaintiff signed her lease with defendant on September 14, 2018, and filed this action on October 3, 2018, roughly nineteen (19) days later. Id. Plaintiff and defendant both agree that the noises alleged are a result of neighbors and traffic and not a result of any particular activities of the defendant.

         III. DISCUSSION The defendant argues that the plaintiff's claims are to be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         A. Subject-Matter Jurisdiction Plaintiff asserts one federal claim; that the defendant violated her rights under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq., more specifically' 3604(f)(3)(B) (discrimination in the sale or rental of housing and other prohibited practices) which provides that

(f)(3) For purposes of this subsection, discrimination includes-
(B) a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal ...

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