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Dumas v. Sunview Properties

United States District Court, S.D. California

February 14, 2014

OLAUDAH DUMAS; and T.S., a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
SUNVIEW PROPERTIES; and WILLIAM R. TURPIN, Defendants.

ORDER

WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.

The matter before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Defendants Sunview Properties and William R. Turpin. (ECF No. 8).

BACKGROUND

On June 18, 2013, Plaintiff Olaudah Dumas and Plaintiff T.S. Dumas, a minor, by and through his Guardian Ad Litem Olaudah Dumas, initiated this action by filing a Complaint in this Court against Defendants Sunview Properties and William R. Turpin ("Defendants"). (ECF No. 1). Plaintiffs allege that Defendants discriminated against families with children in the operation of the apartments located at 4953 Trojan Avenue, San Diego, California ("the Trojan Apartments"). Id. at 1. The Complaint alleges causes of action for: (1) violations of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(b), (c), and 3617; (2) violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), California Government Code §§ 12955(a), (c), (d), and 12955.7; (3) violations of the California Unruh Civil Rights Act ("Unruh Act"), California Civil Code §51 et seq.; (4) unfair business practices in violation of California Business & Professions Code § 17204; and (5) negligence. The Complaint asserts that the Court has jurisdiction over the Fair Housing Act claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and jurisdiction over the related state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 et seq. Id. ¶ 2.

On October 28, 2013, Defendants filed the Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 8). Defendants assert that the Complaint does not state a claim for violation of the Fair Housing Act because the alleged incidents of discrimination "involve application of facially neutral and generally applicable rules of housing behavior...." (ECF No. 8-1 at 6). Defendants contend that "because the Complaint does not describe a federal controversy substantial enough to invoke federal jurisdiction, Plaintiffs' remaining state law claims also fail as a matter of law." Id. at 6.

November 18, 2013, Plaintiffs filed the Opposition. (ECF No. 9). Plaintiffs contend that the Complaint states a claim for violation of the Fair Housing Act that is plausible on its face. Id. at 6-16. Plaintiffs further contend that because they have stated a federal cause of action under the Fair Housing Act, the Court has supplemental jurisdiction to hear the related state law claims. Id. at 17.

On November 25, 2013, Defendants filed the Reply, arguing that the Complaint "fails to create a justiciable controversy under the [Fair Housing Act], and as a result, fails to state a claim that is plausible on its face." (ECF No. 11 at 7).

ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

On or about August 15, 2006, Plaintiff Olaudah Dumas entered into a lease with Defendants for 4953 Trojan Avenue ("the Trojan Apartments"), Apartment L, San Diego, California, and was provided with a copy of the rules and regulations for the property (the "House Rules"). (ECF No. 1 ¶ 12). The House Rules contain the following provisions: "All kids must be supervised by an adult who will be made responsible of [ sic ] any damage done by the kids to the building, such as destroying the plants, etc." ("Adult Supervision Rule"); and "No playing with balls, bicycles, roller blades and other toys on the property." ("No Playing Rule"). Id. ¶ 13. "Defendants' rules are targeted against children generally, and preclude them from engaging in recreational activity. The rules effectively prohibit children from accessing the common area of the complex. Defendants' rules have a disparate impact upon children, who are members of a protected class." Id.

The Complaint alleges five separate incidents of discrimination.

In or around November 2006, [P]laintiff T.S. and his two cousins walked outside of [P]laintiff Olaudah Dumas's apartment intending to ride their scooters in the common areas. The apartment manager saw them and told them that they were not permitted to ride their scooters at the complex. Ms. Dumas, who was standing beside the children, asked why the children were not permitted to play outside. The apartment manager simply stated: "Those are the rules." The children were devastated. Plaintiff T.S. went home crying, and his cousins said they were not coming back over his house because they couldn't even go outside and play. Ms. Dumas was upset, so she called the management office and asked for an explanation as to why her son could not play outside at the complex. Management simply said, "Those are the rules. It's in the contract." Ms. Dumas was still upset, but afraid of getting evicted and possibly facing homelessness, as such, she began forbidding her son from going outside to play.

Id. ¶ 14.

In or around 2008, [P]laintiff T.S. and his cousin went outside to play in the common areas. Shortly thereafter the manager came to [P]laintiff Olaudah Dumas's apartment and informed T.S.'s aunt, Pamela Cruz, that children are not allowed to play outside. Ms. Dumas was at work at that time. When Ms. Dumas came home from work, Ms. Cruz informed her that the manager had come to her apartment and complained about the kids playing outside. Ms. Dumas immediately worried about being evicted, for the manager had told them already that children were not allowed to play outside in the common areas. As such, Ms. Dumas asked her son, T.S., why he had gone outside to play when he knew about the rule forbidding children from playing outside. T.S. started crying and asked why he couldn't go outside and play.

Id. ¶ 15.

In or around 2011, [P]laintiff T.S. got a new electric car as a gift and he and his mom had assembled it inside the house. T.S. tried to test it out inside their apartment, but it was not working too well inside, so he and his mom decided to go outside and try it in the common areas. No sooner had T.S. sat on his new car and the manager came out and told him that he couldn't ride it in the complex and that he needed to go outside the gate on the side walk if he wanted to ride it. Ms. Dumas thus took her son out onto the sidewalk, but only for a very brief time, for she felt ...

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