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Ford v. Affirmed Housing Group

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 25, 2014

JASON FORD, Plaintiff,
v.
AFFIRMED HOUSING GROUP, et. al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DOC. 27]

THOMAS J. WHELAN, District Judge.

On April 25, 2013, Plaintiff Jason Ford commenced this action against the owners and operators of the Studio 15 apartment complex in San Diego, California. Defendants Affirmed Housing Group and Studio 15 Housing Partners, L.P. ("Studio 15") now move for partial summary judgment.[1] Plaintiff opposes.

The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d.1). For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND[2]

Plaintiff is a person with a disability. (Compl. ¶ 4.) In June of 2012, he toured an apartment at Studio 15, an apartment complex in San Diego, California. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 18.) Plaintiff and the social worker with whom he worked to find housing told the Studio 15 rental agent that Plaintiff would need disability-related modifications to his apartment. (Id.) On June 19, 2012, Studio 15 sent Plaintiff a "Letter of Intent" signed by its manager, indicating that when Plaintiff's application was approved, he could move into Unit 132 at Studio 15. (Id. ¶ 19.) The next day, on June 20, Studio 15's manager called Plaintiff and left him a voicemail stating that his application had been approved and that he could move in as soon as July 2, 2012. (Id.)

The next day, on June 21, 2012, Monica Barraza, an independent living specialist working with the non-profit Access to Independence, called Studio 15 and "left the first of a number of messages about installing the modifications needed to enable Ford to occupy his unit at Studio 15." (Compl. ¶¶ 17, 20.) One week later, Plaintiff's July 2 discharge date from Edgemoor Hospital-a nursing facility in Santee where he had been undertaking rehabilitation-had to be postponed because Studio 15 had not made the modifications that would allow Plaintiff to move in. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 21.) Plaintiff's doctor wrote discharge orders authorizing him to be released on July 16 instead. (Id. ¶ 21.) However, Studio 15 repeatedly delayed installing modifications until Plaintiff's July 16 discharge date also had to be cancelled. (Id. ¶ 27.)

One week later, on July 19, the manager of Studio 15 told a social worker with Edgemoor Hospital that Plaintiff would not be allowed to move in. (Compl. ¶ 28.) The manager told the social worker that Plaintiff's modification request had been denied and described Plaintiff as "too disabled" and as a "high liability" as a result of his disability. (Id.) Solari Enterprises, Studio 15's management company, issued a "Letter of Ineligibility" to Plaintiff shortly thereafter. (Id. ¶ 29.)

On April 25, 2013, Plaintiff brought this action for violations of the Fair Housing Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, the California Disabled Persons Act, and the California Business and Professions Code § 17200 et. seq. in addition to claims for breach of contract and for negligence. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, statutory damages under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act and Disabled Persons Act, punitive damages, treble damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, and attorneys' fees.

Defendants now move for partial summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff lacks standing to enforce the Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") regulations promulgated under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794. Plaintiff opposes the motion.

Upon reviewing the moving papers, on January 21, 2013, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause ("OSC") why Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment should not be denied as calling for an advisory opinion on an issue not presented in the case. Defendants filed a response on January 30, 2014, and Plaintiffs filed a reply on February 10, 2014.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate under Rule 56(c) where the moving party demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material when, under the governing substantive law, it could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Freeman v. Arpaio , 125 F.3d 732, 735 (9th Cir. 1997), overruled in part on other grounds by Shakur v. Schriro , 514 F.3d 878, 884-85 (9th Cir. 2008). A dispute about a material fact is genuine if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 248.

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex , 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party can satisfy this burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id . at 322-23. "Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n , 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

"The district court may limit its review to the documents submitted for the purpose of summary judgment and those parts of the record specifically referenced therein." Carmen v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist. , 237 F.3d 1026, 1030 (9th Cir. 2001). Therefore, the court is not obligated "to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact." Keenan v. Allen , 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996) (citing Richards v. Combined Ins. Co. of Am. , 55 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1995)). If the moving party fails to discharge this initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not ...


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