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Lopez v. Islay Investments

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 7, 2015

JOSE LOPEZ, MARIA RICHARD, and VANESSA RUEDA, individually and on behalf of similarly situated persons, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HOUSING RIGHTS CENTER, INC., d/b/a HOUSING RIGHTS CENTER, a California nonprofit corporation, Plaintiffs,
ISLAY INVESTMENTS, a California limited partnership, and ANTONIO R. ROMASANTA, Defendants.


MANUEL L. REAL, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Strike and Dismiss Portions of Plaintiffs' Class Action Complaint, which was filed on May 14, 2015. Having been thoroughly briefed by both parties, this Court took the matter under submission on July 1, 2015.

Plaintiffs Jose Lopez, Maria Richard, Vanessa Rueda, and the Southern California Housing Resource Center allege the following six causes of action: (1) discrimination under Title 42 U.S.C. Sections 3601 et seq., the Fair Housing Act; (2) unlawful housing actions under California Government Code Sections 12926 et seq., the Fair Employment and Housing Act; (3) unlawful discrimination by a business establishment under California Civil Code Section 51 et seq., the Unruh Civil Rights Act; (4) infringement of their privacy and right to quiet enjoyment under Civil Code Sections 1927 and 1940.2; (5) unlawful conduct in the operation of a business under California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 et seq.; and (6) negligence under California Civil Code Section 1714.

Under their first cause of action seeking injunctive and declaratory relief under the FHA, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants enacted an occupancy policy that restricted their right to fair housing on the basis of familial status and racial bias. The occupancy restriction allegedly barred individuals from taking up residence in a one-bedroom dwelling at Defendants' Islay apartment complex if they intended to live in the unit with more than three individuals, including a child age 18 months or older. Plaintiffs allege that the occupancy restriction threatened them with eviction and forced them from their homes.

Defendants move to strike Plaintiffs' request for injunctive and declaratory relief under the FHA. The FHA provides for the full extension of standing provided under Article III of the Constitution. Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91 (1979). The FHA cannot provide standing where none previously existed. Article III standing requires that a plaintiff demonstrate an ongoing or immediate threat of injury. Dearth v. Holder, 641 F.3d 449 (D.C. Cir. 2011). Past injuries do not satisfy the requirements of standing for forward-looking relief if they are not ongoing or present an immediate threat of repetition. In re Navy Chaplaincy, 697 F.3d 1171 (D.C. Cir. 2012).

Plaintiffs lack standing. On October 14, 2014, Defendants signed an agreement with the California Department of Employment and Housing that altered their occupancy policy to permit up to three individuals to inhabit a one-bedroom dwelling. Plaintiffs' complaint therefore alleges a claim for injuries caused by an occupancy policy that no longer exists. Plaintiffs fail to present any factual allegations that rectify their claim. Without presenting facts that causally connect Plaintiffs' injuries to Defendants' occupancy policy, this Court may not provide redress. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992). Plaintiffs do not meet the Article III requirements for standing and this Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to strike Plaintiffs' claims for injunctive and declaratory relief.

Defendants also move to dismiss Plaintiffs' remaining class allegations and request for monetary damages. Title 28 U.S.C. Section 1367(c) provides that district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim if (1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law, (2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction, (3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction, or (4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling reasons for declining jurisdiction.

Only state law claims remain, as this Court has stricken Plaintiffs' federal claim for injunctive and declaratory relief under the FHA. Pursuant to Section 1367(c), this Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction as to all remaining state law claims. These state law claims are DISMISSED without prejudice.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants' motion to strike is GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' state-law claims are DISMISSED without prejudice. (Dkt. No. 11)

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