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Patton v. Hanassab

United States District Court, S.D. California

February 12, 2015

JALEH HANASSAB, an individual, FIRST LIGHT PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, INC., a California Corporation, and DOES 1 through 20, inclusive, Defendants.



Presently before the Court is Defendants Jaleh Hanassab and First Light Property Management, Inc.'s (collectively "Defendants") motion to dismiss Plaintiff Donald Patton's ("Plaintiff") first amended complaint. (Doc. No. 16.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.


Plaintiff is a gay, Native American male, medically diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Alcoholism. (Doc. No. 15, ¶ 14.) On or about October 25, 2007, Plaintiff applied for and was approved as a candidate for a Section 8 Housing Program sponsored by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), San Diego Impact Program, and the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC.) (Id. ¶ 14.) On November 8, 2007, Plaintiff entered into a month-to-month rental agreement with Defendant Jaleh Hanassab ("Hanassab") to reside at an apartment (referred to hereafter as the "Property") owned by Hanassab. (Id. ¶ 15.) The Property consists of twenty-eight units, four of which are reserved for Section 8 housing. (Id. ¶ 16.) At the time Plaintiff moved to the Property, it was managed by Darleen and Lonnie Thomas. (Id. ¶ 15.) As part of the housing program, Plaintiff is responsible for a portion of his monthly rent, while the remainder is paid by HUD, SDHC, and the San Diego Impact Program. (Id. ¶ 14.) On June 15, 2011, Plaintiff received notice that Defendant First Light Property Management ("First Light") would be the property managers and maintenance supervisors of the Property as of June 16, 2011. (Id. ¶ 17.)

Plaintiff claims that in spring of 2012, he became the subject of discrimination while residing at the Property. ( See id. ¶¶ 18-38.) On one occasion, Plaintiff asked Lonnie Thomas ("Thomas") to move his tools so that Plaintiff could enter his apartment. (Id. ¶ 18.) Thomas responded with profanity in an intimidating voice, saying that Plaintiff should move out. (Id. ) Plaintiff became fearful and hid out in his apartment in fear as a result of Thomas' comments. (Id. ) On another occasion, Thomas shook his head in a disgusted manner and told Plaintiff "We don't want your kind here." (Id. ¶ 19.) On a different occasion, Thomas called Plaintiff a "troublemaker." (Id. ¶ 20.)

On August 23, 2012, Thomas came to Plaintiff's apartment to conduct maintenance and served Plaintiff with a 60-Day Notice to Move Out. (Id. ¶ 21.) On the same date, Defendants served Plaintiff with a Notice to Vacate that ordered Plaintiff to move out of the Property by October 21, 2012. (Id. ¶ 22.) Pursuant to the policies of the Section 8 housing program Plaintiff participated in, a participating property owner may not terminate a tenancy unless there is material noncompliance with the lease, material failure to carry out obligations under any state landlord and tenant act, or other good cause. (Id. ¶ 23.) The 60-Day Notice given to Plaintiff did not state a reason for termination of the tenancy. (Id. )

On October 5, 2012, Thomas intimidated and coerced Plaintiff in an attempt to get Plaintiff to move out. (Id. ¶ 24.) Specifically, Thomas spoke to Plaintiff in a "low-toned voice" and asked whether Plaintiff had found a place to move. (Id. ) Thomas further stated "you know you have until October 31 [2012]." (Id. ) On October 29, 2012, Plaintiff submitted his portion of November rent owed to Defendants. (Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff's rent check was accepted and processed, and nothing further came of the August 23, 2012 Notice to Vacate. (Id. )

In July 2013, Thomas and his employees renovated and performed repairs and improvements to certain units at the Property, including units reserved for Section 8 tenants. (Id. ¶ 26.) No improvements were made to Plaintiff's unit during this time period. (Id. ) On September 11, 2013, Plaintiff received another 60-Day Notice to Move Out which purported to end Plaintiff's tenancy on November 11, 2013. (Id. ¶ 28.) The Notice was signed and delivered by Thomas and no reason was provided for the Notice to Vacate. (Id. ) On the same date, Plaintiff also received a 30-Day Notice to Change of Terms of Rental Agreement and a Smoke-Free Addendum to the Rental Agreement. (Id. )

On September 19, 2013, Plaintiff received an "Owner HAP Contract Termination Notice" from SDHC indicating that SDHC was informed that Hanassab had given Plaintiff notice to terminate the lease effective November 11, 2013. (Id. ¶ 29.) The Notice from SDHC also informed Plaintiff that he was no longer eligible for the Rental Assistance Program and that SDHC would terminate their contract with Plaintiff effective November 11, 2013. (Id. )

On November 11, 2013, Darleen, acting as co-manager of the Property, demanded Plaintiff allow her into Plaintiff's unit to perform a "walk-out." (Id. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff denied Darleen access to his unit, causing Thomas and Darleen to forcefully enter Plaintiff's unit. (Id. ) After Darleen and Thomas left, Plaintiff found a Three-Day Notice to Cure Violation or Move Out Notice signed by Darleen. (Id. )

On November 28, 2013, Plaintiff submitted a rent check for December which was accepted and processed by First Light. (Id. ¶ 31.) Two days later, on November 30, 2013, Plaintiff received another 90-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy along with correspondence regarding an unlawful detainer action from Hanassab's attorney. (Id. ¶ 32.) The Notice stated that Plaintiff's tenancy would be terminated on February 24, 2014, and further provided Hanassab was electing to opt out of the Section 8 Program. (Id. ) Plaintiff alleges no other Section 8 tenants at the Property received notice that their tenancies would be terminated by Hanassab. (Id. ¶ 33.)

On December 30, 2013 and January 30, 2014, Plaintiff submitted rent checks which were accepted and processed by First Light. (Id. ¶¶ 34-35.) On February 25, 2014, Hanassab filed an unlawful detainer action against Plaintiff in San Diego Superior Court based on the November 30, 2013, 90-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy. (Id. ¶ 37.) Plaintiff was the only Section 8 tenant that Hanassab filed an unlawful detainer action against. (Id. ¶ 33.) On March 28, 2014, the date the unlawful detainer trial was set to commence, Hanassab voluntarily dismissed the case. (Id. ¶ 38.) To-date Plaintiff continues to live at the Property under the Section 8 program with rental assistance from SDHC and the San Diego Impact Program. (Id. ¶ 39.) As a result of Defendants' harassment, Plaintiff has suffered severe emotional distress. (Id. ¶ 40.)

On June 18, 2014, proceeding pro se, Plaintiff filed an initial complaint against Defendants. (Doc. No. 1.) Thereafter, Plaintiff retained counsel and filed the first amended complaint (FAC) which sets forth five causes of action for violation of: (1) the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.; (2) the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1982; (3) the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov. Code § 12955; (4) the Unruh Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 51; and (5) Disability Discrimination, Cal. Civ. Code § 54.1. (Doc. No. 15.) On October 29, 2014, Defendants filed the ...

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