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Awosefaju v. Martinez

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 4, 2017

FRANCIS O. AWOSEFAJU, Plaintiff,
v.
ELIZABETH MARTINEZ and MANDELA PRESERVATION, LLC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS THE AMENDED COMPLAINT

          F. DENNIS SAYLOR IV UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a landlord-tenant dispute. According to the pro se complaint, plaintiff Francis Awosefaju lives in a rental unit in the Mandela Homes development. Mandela Homes is owned by defendant Mandela Preservation, LLC. Plaintiff contends that he was discriminated against on the basis of his national origin in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

         Defendants have moved to dismiss the amended complaint. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted.

         I. Background

         Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are stated in the amended complaint and have been construed liberally in favor of the pro se plaintiff.

         Plaintiff Francis Awosefaju is a tenant at Mandela Homes in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Mandela Homes is owned by defendant Mandela Preservation, LLC. Defendant Elizabeth Martinez is the property manager.

         The amended complaint alleges that around March 2015, Martinez began “wrong internal renovations without giving the residents good acco[]modations, treated [them] like [] animals[] because they are black[] people, Africans, spanish people e[tc].” It alleges that Martinez started moving residents' belongings, and damaging their property. It states that Awosefaju had “water damages, wrong stove, [and] wrong refrigeration.” It alleges that Martinez's supervisor Tonya Irish “came to [the] MCAD office for settlement of $2, 500[.]00” concerning those claims. The amended complaint alleges that Awosefaju was paid only $500 of that settlement, but has not been paid the balance of $2, 000.

         In addition to the claims concerning the water damage and settlement, the amended complaint alleges that Martinez gave preferential treatment to Spanish people who were applying for housing at Mandela Homes.

         On July 30, 2015, Awosefaju filed a charge with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (the “MCAD”), asserting a claim for national origin discrimination under the Fair Housing Act against Beacon Management. (Def. Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. B).[1] Consistent with the claims in this action, the MCAD charge alleged that Awosefaju's property had been damaged by a flood in March 2015. (Id.). On November 18, 2015, Awosefaju signed a settlement agreement, in which he agreed to “waive all rights to bring or pursue any . . . civil action of any kind covered by the Fair Housing Act . . . against [Beacon Management] with respect to any allegations referred to in this agreement.” (Id. Ex. C ¶ 6). In exchange, Beacon Management agreed to consider Awosefaju's submission of documentation supporting the alleged property damage and to respond within two weeks “with a decision regarding reimbursement allowance, if any.” (Id. at 7). It further provided that Beacon Management “does not agree by its agreement to this process to any specific reimbursement, but rather to a good faith review of such damages.” (Id.).

         On November 8, 2016, Awosefaju filed the complaint in this action. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. On April 24, 2017, the Court issued a memorandum and order denying the motion without prejudice and directing Awosefaju to file an amended complaint that complied with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on or before May 24, 2017. On May 25, 2017, Awosefaju filed a letter making additional allegations against defendants. The Court deemed that late-filed letter to be an amended complaint alleging one count for discrimination on the basis of national origin in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b).

         Defendants have now moved to dismiss the amended complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. Standard of Review

         On a motion to dismiss, the Court “must assume the truth of all well-plead[ed] facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences therefrom.” Ruiz v. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77 (1st Cir. 1999)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555 (citations omitted). “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) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Dismissal is appropriate if the complaint fails to set forth “factual allegations, either direct or inferential, respecting each material element necessary to sustain recovery under some actionable legal theory.” Gagliardi v. Sullivan, 513 F.3d 301, 305 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting Centro Médico del Turabo, Inc. v. Feliciano de Melecio, 406 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2005)).

         III. ...


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