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Bunch v. Victor Valley Domestic Violence, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California, Eastern Division

December 11, 2019

NIYA BUNCH, Plaintiff,
v.
VICTOR VALLEY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          DOUGLAS F. MCCORMICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         In October 2019, Niya Bunch (“Plaintiff”) filed suit against Victor Valley Domestic Violence, Inc. (“Better Way”), under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act. See Dkt. 1 (“Complaint”) at 1. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. See Dkt. 5.

         Plaintiff alleges that she left Colorado with her two daughters to escape a “domestic violence situation” and was staying at Better Way. See Complaint at 19. On October 22, 2017, Coby Ward-who appears to work at Better Way-confiscated Plaintiffs tarot cards, stating that “some people think they are demonic.” Id at 2. Plaintiff alleges that other Better Way residents were allowed to keep their Bibles. See id at 4.

         During her stay at Better Way, Plaintiff wished to maintain her eligibility for Section 8 housing by conducting daily phone and internet searches for apartments. See id at 19. In retaliation for Plaintiffs religious beliefs, Ward would not allow Plaintiff to use the telephone past 5 p.m., indirectly affecting Plaintiffs eligibility for Section 8 housing. See id at 4-5.

         On October 24, 2017, Plaintiff chose to leave Better Way because her “72 hour hold” had ended and she had not been allowed to use the phone in a manner that allowed her to maintain her Section 8 housing eligibility. See id at 3-4. Ward returned Plaintiffs tarot cards to her on that day, and when Plaintiff was not pleased with the condition of her own stored car seat, offered Plaintiff two alternative car seats that were “small” and “dirty.” Id at 3. Plaintiff and her daughters were homeless until August 2019. See id at 5.

         Plaintiff alleges that Better Way receives federal funding. See id at 2. She asserts claims of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act. See id Plaintiff does not state what relief she seeks, other than “declaratory equitable relief as well as monetary damages.” Id

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), the Court must dismiss the case at any time if it determines the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant.

         The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2) is the same as under Rule 12(b)(6), see Watison v. Carter, 688 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012), i.e., the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, '” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (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.” Id The court accepts as true all facts alleged in the complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See al-Kidd v. Ashcroft 580 F.3d 949, 956 (9th Cir. 2009).

         “In civil rights cases where the plaintiff appears pro se, the court must construe the pleadings liberally and must afford plaintiff the benefit of the doubt.” Karim-Panahi v. L.A. Police Dep't 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). “[B]efore dismissing a pro se civil rights complaint for failure to state a claim, the district court must give the plaintiff a statement of the complaint's deficiencies.” Id

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Title II of the Civil Rights Act

         Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides: “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000a(a). The Court ...


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