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Sue Ellen Holmstrand v. Dixon Housing Partners

June 29, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge


This action arises from the previous tenancy of Plaintiff Sue Ellen Holmstrand ("Plaintiff") at an apartment complex allegedly owned and operated by Dixon Housing, LP ("Dixon"), MCA Housing Partners, LLC ("MCA"), the Foundation for Affordable Housing, Inc. ("FAH"), and FPI Management, Inc. ("FPI") (collectively, "Defendants").

Plaintiff seeks redress for Defendants' alleged refusal to allow her to form a tenants association, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and for Defendants' alleged unauthorized entry into her apartment and destruction of her personal property, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff also seeks redress for intentional infliction of emotional distress under California state law. Defendants have filed separate motions to dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amendment Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).*fn1

(ECF Nos. 32-1, 37.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are granted.*fn2


Plaintiff is legally disabled, and was a resident of the Second Street Senior Apartments in Dixon, California from October 2007 to May 2008. The Second Street Apartments were developed under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, which is designed to increase the availability of affordable housing by encouraging private investment in such housing.

The "encouragement" is a tax credit to the private investors. Defendant DHA is the owner of the property, and Defendant FAH is the general partner of Defendant DHA. Defendant FPI is a property management company. The true capacity of Defendant MCA is unknown as regards to the Second Street Apartments.

In November 2007, the manager of the Second Street Apartments, Carolyn Kennedy, gave notice to the tenants that the building was being sold and that there would be frequent inspections of individual apartments. Ms. Kennedy informed tenants that they would be given no further notice before management could enter apartments, and further informed tenants that they could be evicted for dirty apartments or other breaches of their leases. Plaintiff objected, stating that she would not allow inspection of her apartment without forty-eight hours' notice.

In November 2007, Plaintiff asked Ms. Kennedy for permission to use the Second Street Apartments' clubhouse to hold a meeting for tenants to inform them of their legal rights. Ms. Kennedy denied Plaintiff use of the clubhouse. Plaintiff again requested use of the clubhouse in November and December 2007, and January 2008. Ms. Kennedy denied Plaintiff's request each time. Tenants were threatened with eviction if they supported a tenants association. In April and May 2008, Plaintiff attempted to advocate for additional handicapped parking spots at the Second Street Apartments, to no avail.

On May 30, 2008, Defendants served Plaintiff with an unlawful detainer action. Plaintiff agreed to move out of her apartment by July 31, 2008. On July 15, 2008, while the unlawful detainer proceedings were pending, Defendants entered Plaintiff's apartment and removed and destroyed Plaintiff's personal property. Plaintiff made repeated attempts to contact the management of the Second Street Apartments regarding the destruction of her property, but her calls were never returned. No property was returned to Plaintiff.


A. Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and are presumptively without jurisdiction over civil actions. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction. Id. Because subject matter jurisdiction involves a court's power to hear a case, it can never be forfeited or waived. United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630 (2002). Accordingly, lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised by the district court sua sponte. Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999). Indeed, "courts have an independent obligation to determine whether subject matter jurisdiction ...

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