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Cynthia Rodriguez v. Roxroy C. Morgan

January 26, 2012

CYNTHIA RODRIGUEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROXROY C. MORGAN, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: George H. WU United States District Judge

I. BACKGROUND

STATEMENT OF DECISION

On December 4, 2009, Plaintiff Cynthia Rodriguez filed this action against Defendant Roxroy C. Morgan raising the five causes of action under: (1) the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 ("FHAA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq., (2) the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), Cal. Gov't Code § 12955 et seq., (3) the Unruh Civil Rights Act ("Unruh Act"), Cal. Civil Code §§ 51-52, (4) the California Disabled Persons Act ("DPA"), Cal. Civil Code §§ 54-55.2, and (5) Common Law Negligence. The matter was tried before the Court on November 30, 2010. At the close of the trial, the Court ordered post-trial briefing which was submitted in December 2010 and in January of 2011.

Upon review and consideration of the pleadings, the pre- and post-trial filings, the testimony and exhibits proffered at trial and the arguments of counsel, the Court renders the following Statement of Decision.

II. STIPULATED FACTS

The following facts were stipulated by the parties and have been accepted by the Court as being true:

1. Defendant owns a single family dwelling located at 155 E. Avenue J8 in Lancaster, California ("subject property"). Defendant uses this unit as a residential rental property.

2. Defendant is the sole owner of the subject property. 3. Defendant alone is responsible for the subject property's rental, management and operation.

4. On or around April 14, 2009, Plaintiff and Defendant entered into a 12-month residential lease agreement regarding the subject property. Under the terms of this agreement, Plaintiff's tenancy would terminate on March 31, 2010. The residential lease agreement is referenced as Exhibit 26/Exhibit A from the parties' joint exhibit list.

5. At all times relevant to this case, Plaintiff was receiving governmental rent subsidies through the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles ("HACoLA") as a participant in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program ("Section 8").

6. Upon signing the lease agreement in mid-April, 2009, Defendant was aware that Plaintiff was a Section 8 voucher recipient.

7. On or around June 15, 2009, Plaintiff and Defendant signed HACoLA's Housing Assistance Payments ("HAP") contract as well as the Housing Choice Voucher Program Lease Rider. The HAP contract and the Lease Rider amended the lease agreement Plaintiff and Defendant signed on April 14, 2009. Among other things, the Lease Rider provided that HACoLA would pay the Defendant $1302 in monthly rent on behalf of Plaintiff. True and correct copies of the HAP contract and the Lease Rider are incorporated by reference hereto as Exhibit 25/Exhibit B from the parties' joint exhibit list.

8. Defendant received a handwritten letter, addressed from Plaintiff to Defendant and dated July 1, 2009, in which the Plaintiff requested Defendant's consent to terminate her lease agreement early. A true and correct copy of this letter is incorporated hereto as Exhibit 68/Exhibit D from the parties' joint exhibit list.

9. On or around September 8, 2009, Defendant received a telephone call from Marisol Arzate, an employee of the Housing Rights Center, on behalf of Plaintiff.

10. Defendant received a letter dated September 14, 2009 from Ms. Arzate requesting early lease termination as a reasonable accommodation on behalf of Plaintiff.

11. Defendant did not respond to Ms. Arzate's September 14, 2009 correspondence.

12. Defendant received a letter dated September 25, 2009 from Ms. Arzate, requesting early lease termination as a reasonable accommodation on behalf of Plaintiff.

13. Defendant did not respond to Ms. Arzate's September 25, 2009 correspondence.

14. Defendant received a letter dated October 7, 2009 from Sara Kunkel, attorney for the Housing Rights Center, requesting early lease termination as a reasonable accommodation on behalf of Plaintiff Cynthia Rodriguez.

15. Defendant did not respond to Ms. Kunkel's October 7, 2009 correspondence.

16. Defendant did not grant Plaintiff's request for accommodation "due to [it] being an unreasonable request."

17. Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this matter on December 4, 2009.

18. Plaintiff remained a tenant at the subject property ...


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