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Thompson v. Owner's Management Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

October 23, 2017

Michael Thompson, Plaintiff,
v.
Owner's Management Company, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER

          PATRICIA A. GAUGHAN United States District Court

         INTRODUCTION

         Pro se Plaintiff Michael Thompson filed this action under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, against Owner's Management Company (defendant or the Management Company). In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges he renegotiated his lease with Defendant's employee, but Defendant did not recognize the revision and sued him for damages for breach of the lease. He claims he has a disability. He does not specify the relief he seeks.

         Plaintiff also filed an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. No. 2). That Application is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's Complaint is very brief. He alleges he suffered a seizure in the winter of 2015. When he was released from the hospital, he approached his building manager and asked her if he could amend his lease from a longer term lease to a month to month tenancy. Plaintiff contends the manager agreed to this arrangement. It does not appear, however, that this understanding was approved by the Management Company or commemorated in writing. He states he gave notice to the building manager in June 2015 that he was moving. The Management Company indicates Plaintiff vacated the premises on September 21, 2015. Plaintiff's rent was subsidized, however, when he did not pay rent for July and August 2015, the Management Company assessed the full market value of the rental unit for the second half of September and the month of October. The Management Company also assessed him for replacement of the locks, cleaning and repairs. On October 9, 2015, the Management Company mailed him an itemized statement of damages to an address which Plaintiff acknowledges as his forwarding address. When Plaintiff did not pay the sum it demanded, the Management Company brought an eviction action for damages in the Cleveland Municipal Court. The Court awarded judgment to the Management Company. Plaintiff claims he was unaware of the action or the judgment until January 2017 when he received a letter from the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority telling him he is ineligible for housing because he owed a prior debt to a federal subsidized property. Plaintiff contends he has a disability and brings this action under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the Court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis action under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196 (6th Cir. 1990); Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law or fact when it is premised on an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it lacks “plausibility in the complaint.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 564 (2007). A pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The factual allegations in the pleading must be sufficient to raise the right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the Complaint are true. Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. The Plaintiff is not required to include detailed factual allegations, but must provide more than “an unadorned, the-Defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading that offers legal conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not meet this pleading standard. Id. In reviewing a Complaint, the Court must construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. Bibbo v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 151 F.3d 559, 561 (6th Cir. 1998).

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. His only stated legal claim is under Title VII. This statute governs discrimination in the context of employment. This case does not involve employment discrimination. Moreover, Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). It does not cover disability discrimination claims. Clark v. City of Dublin, Ohio, No. 05-3186, 2006 WL 1133577 at *2 (6th Cir. Apr. 27, 2006).

         It is possible Plaintiff may have been attempting to bring an action under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. § 3604; however, he failed to allege sufficient facts to state a plausible claim for relief. The FHA makes it unlawful to:

(a) To refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.
(b) To discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.

         42 U.S.C. § 3604. Congress extended the FHA's protections to disabled persons in 1988, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2), and expanded the definition of unlawful discrimination to include “a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford ...


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