United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
MARIA W. LEE, et al., Plaintiffs,
RETAIL STORE EMPLOYEE BUILDING CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS AS TO PLAINTIFFS
MARIA AND WEN LEE RE: DKT. NOS. 60, 69
H. KOH, United States District Judge.
Maria and Wen Lee (collectively, “Plaintiffs”)
bring this action against Retail Store Employee Building
Corporation; Casa del Pueblo Apartment; and Barcelon
Associates Management Corp. (collectively,
“Defendants”). Before the Court are two motions to
dismiss the First Amended Complaint, one filed by Barcelon
Associates Management Corp. and another filed by Retail Store
Employee Building Corporation and Casa del Pueblo Apartment.
ECF No. 60 (“Retail Mot.”); ECF No. 69
(“Barcelon Mot.”); ECF No. 52
(“FAC”). The Court finds these motions suitable
for decision without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local
Rule 7-1(b) and thus VACATES the motions hearing set for
August 11, 2016, at 1:30 p.m. The case management conference,
currently set for August 11, 2016, at 1:30 p.m., is CONTINUED
to September 14, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. Having considered the
submissions of the parties, the relevant law, and the record
in this case, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ motion to
2000 to 2013, Maria Lee (“Maria”) lived at the
Casa del Pueblo Apartment (“CDP”) complex, a
senior living facility. During this period, CDP was owned by
Retail Store Employees Building Corporation (“Retail
Store”) and managed by Barcelon Associates Management
Corp. (“Barcelon”). FAC ¶¶ 5-4; 5-5;
is in her late 80s and suffers from dementia. From 2000 to
2010, it appears that Maria lived alone at CDP, while her
husband, Joseph Lee (“Joseph”), lived at a
nursing home. Id. ¶ 5-11. In late 2010, Joseph
suffered a stroke. Id. As a result of his stroke,
Joseph left the nursing home and “came back to [live
with Maria at] CDP.” Id. After Joseph returned
to CDP, Maria’s son, Wen Lee (“Wen”),
stayed at CDP from time to time to care for Joseph and Maria.
Id. Joseph passed away on November 17, 2012.
Id. ¶ 5-12.
to Plaintiffs, during Maria’s tenancy at CDP, Maria was
subject to “bullying” by several CDP staff
members. Id. ¶ 5-8. In particular, in 2004,
Plaintiffs allege that a resident stole coats from Maria and
Joseph while the couple was abroad. When Maria asked for help
in recovering these items, CDP staff mocked Maria.
Id. ¶ 5-9. After Joseph’s death, CDP
staff allegedly entered Maria’s apartment to search the
apartment without Maria’s consent. Id.
¶¶ 5-13; 5-18. Finally, from December 2012 to
September 2013, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants repeatedly
threatened to evict Maria.
September 19, 2013, Retail Store and CDP filed an unlawful
detainer complaint against Maria, Wen, and Maria’s
daughter, Lin Lee (“Lin”) in Santa Clara County
Superior Court. The unlawful detainer complaint states that
Maria “materially violated the terms of the lease
agreement and created and/or allowed the creation of a
nuisance upon the premises.” ECF No. 52 at 28. In
particular, Maria allowed Lin to reside at CDP without
“obtaining the prior written approval” of Retail
Store and CDP-a violation of Maria’s rental agreement.
Id. The complaint further states that Maria’s
“tenancy has been fraught with constant complaints from
neighbors who have been terrified by threatening, hostile,
bizarre, and alarming behavior.” Id.
2010, for example, Lin “locked [Maria] out of the
apartment and angrily abused [CDP] staff when they attempted
to intervene.” Id. Maria was also given
infraction notices from CDP on March 6, 2012; April 24, 2012;
June 19, 2012; July 25, 2012; October 23, 2012; and November
30, 2012 for “harassing residents, staff and
caregivers; knocking on their doors; making unwanted contact;
and physically assaulting others.” Id. at 29.
The unlawful detainer complainer also produced notes that CDP
staff members had received from Maria which stated, among
other things, that “[e]vil fate will befall you soon.
Your parents die and your son die, ” and that
“[y]ou stinky prostitute putting stuff in my garlic
bowl. Almighty will punish you. Your parents will die. You
are dirty and rotten.” Id. at 30. Maria, Wen,
and Lin did not respond to the unlawful detainer complaint.
Id. ¶ 5-25. Accordingly, on October 17, 2013,
the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office evicted Maria
October 17, 2014, Maria filed a housing discrimination
complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (“HUD”), which asserted that she was
the subject of discriminatory treatment by CDP staff.
Pursuant to HUD policy, Maria’s complaint was forwarded
to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
(“DFEH”). On November 6, 2015, DFEH closed
Maria’s case after finding that she had presented
insufficient evidence of discrimination.
filed the original complaint in federal court on October 15,
2015, which mirrored the allegations set forth in
Maria’s HUD complaint. The original complaint asserted
causes of action under the Fair Housing Amendments Act
(“FHAA”) and Fair Employment and Housing Act
(“FEHA”). ECF No. 1. On April 6, 2016, Retail
Store and CDP moved to dismiss the original complaint. ECF
No. 39. In lieu of opposing this motion, Plaintiffs filed the
FAC, which kept the same two causes of action but added
Barcelon as a Defendant. On June 17, 2016, Barcelon declined
magistrate judge jurisdiction, and on June 21, 2016, the
instant action was reassigned to the undersigned judge. ECF
Store and CDP moved to dismiss the FAC on May 13, 2016. Maria
and Wen filed a response on June 20, 2016, and Retail Store
and CDP filed a reply on June 29, 2016. ECF No. 76
(“Retail Opp’n”); ECF No. 81 (“Retail
Reply”). Barcelon moved to dismiss the FAC on June 9,
2016. Maria and Wen filed a response on June 21, 2016, and
Barcelon filed a reply on June 30, 2016. ECF No. 78
(“Barcelon Opp’n”); ECF No. 82
Motion to Dismiss
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant may
move to dismiss an action for failure to allege “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not
akin to a ‘probability requirement, ’ but it asks
for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (internal citations omitted). For purposes of
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court “accept[s]
factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe[s]
the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party.” Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins.
Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008).
the Court is not required to “‘assume the truth
of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form
of factual allegations.’” Fayer v.
Vaughn, 649 F.3d 1061, 1064 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting
W. Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th
Cir. 1981)). Mere “conclusory allegations of law and
unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to
dismiss.” Adams v. Johnson, 355 F.3d 1179,
1183 (9th Cir. 2004); accord Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Furthermore, “‘a plaintiff may plead [him]self
out of court’” if he “plead[s] facts which
establish that he cannot prevail on his . . . claim.”
Weisbuch v. Cnty. of L.A., 119 F.3d 778, 783 n.1
(9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Warzon v. Drew, 60 F.3d
1234, 1239 (7th Cir. 1995)).
Leave to Amend
Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, leave to
amend “shall be freely granted when justice so
requires, ” bearing in mind “the underlying
purpose of Rule 15 to facilitate decision on the merits,
rather than on the pleadings or technicalities.”
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000)
(en banc) (ellipses omitted). Generally, leave to amend shall
be denied only if allowing amendment would unduly prejudice
the opposing party, cause undue delay, or be futile, or if
the moving party has acted in bad faith. Leadsinger, Inc.
v. BMG Music Publ’g, 512 F.3d 522, 532 (9th Cir.