United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Enoh Johnson's federal housing subsidy was terminated and
he was subsequently evicted from his apartment at the
Charlesview Residences in Brighton, Massachusetts. He now
brings claims related to the alleged violation of his
constitutional right to due process pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 based on the Defendants' failure to comply
with the Fair Housing Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. §§
3601 et seq. [See generally ECF No. 11
(“Amended Complaint” or “Am.
Compl.”)]. Defendants Kimberly Wong, Misty Pisani,
and Barbara Castro are all employees of the managing agent
for Johnson's former landlord. Before the Court is
Defendants' motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [ECF
No. 19]. For the reasons explained herein, the motion is
GRANTED, and the Amended Complaint is dismissed with
following facts are drawn from the Amended Complaint, the
well-pleaded allegations of which are taken as true for
purposes of evaluating Defendants' motion to dismiss. See
Ruivo v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 766 F.3d 87, 90
(1st Cir. 2014). Certain details are also culled from
documents whose authenticity are not disputed by the parties,
from official public records, from facts determined in
litigations to which Johnson was a party, and from documents
attached or referred to in the Amended Complaint. See
Watterson v. Page, 987 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1993).
moved into a three-bedroom apartment at the Charlesview
Residences in August 2014 with two of his minor children.
[ECF No. 20-6 at 3]. Those two children moved to California
with their mother in October 2014, but Plaintiff remained in
the government-subsidized, three-bedroom apartment until
early 2018. [Id; see also ECF No. 20 at 2]. During those
years, Johnson attempted, unsuccessfully, to gain custody of
some of his five children, including the two children who had
moved to California and a daughter who resided in Rhode
Island. [ECF Nos. 20-6 at 2-3; 23]. After recognizing that
Johnson was living in his three-bedroom apartment alone,
Defendants' employer, Peabody Properties, Inc.
(“Peabody”),  offered to transfer him to a
one-bedroom unit in October 2016 and then again in October
2017, but Johnson refused both times. [ECF No. 20-6 at 2].
November 2017, Johnson indicated that he would move into a
one-bedroom apartment. [Am. Compl. at 2]. On December 4,
2017, Defendant Wong asked Johnson to come to her office to
sign a one-bedroom apartment lease. [Id.]. The next
day, Johnson filed a civil action requesting that a
Massachusetts housing court issue a temporary restraining
order prohibiting his removal from the three-bedroom unit.
[Id.; ECF No. 20-5]. Summons for a December 13, 2017
hearing on Johnson's application for a temporary
restraining order was served on Defendant Castro on December
7, 2018. [Am Compl. at 3]. On the same day, Johnson's
federal housing subsidy was terminated, and he remained in
the apartment without paying the increase in rent for which
he was responsible once the housing subsidy ended.
[Id.]. Following the December 13, 2017 hearing, the
housing court denied Johnson's request for a restraining
order and concluded that Johnson “has no reasonable
likelihood that he will prevail on the merits of his claim
given [that] his children reside with their mothers . . .
.” [ECF No. 20-5]. Peabody then initiated a summary
proceeding before the housing court, which entered judgment
for possession of the apartment and damages of $3, 663.00 on
March 9, 2018. Johnson filed an appeal in the summary process
proceeding on May 2, 2018, and an appeal from the denial of a
temporary restraining order on June 15, 2018, but did not
prevail on either appeal. [ECF No. 20-8 at 5; 20-9 at 6].
20, 2018 Johnson filed the instant action and obtained leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. [ECF Nos. 1, 6]. On
August 24, 2018, Johnson filed the Amended Complaint, which
cured certain pleading deficiencies as ordered by the Court.
[ECF Nos. 6, 11].
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court
accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the complaint and
draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff. United States ex rel. Hutcheson v.
Blackstone Med., Inc., 647 F.3d 377, 383 (1st Cir.
2011). While detailed factual allegations are not required,
the complaint must set forth “more than labels and
conclusions, ” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007), and it must contain “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) (internal
quotations and citations omitted). The facts alleged, taken
together, must “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” A.G. ex rel. Maddox v.
Elsevier, Inc., 732 F.3d 77, 80 (1st Cir. 2013) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim is facially
plausible if supported by ‘factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.'”
Eldredge v. Town of Falmouth, 662 F.3d 100, 104 (1st
Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
assessing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court first
“separate[s] the complaint's factual allegations
(which must be accepted as true) from its conclusory legal
allegations (which need not be credited).” Maddox, 732
F.3d at 80 (quoting Morales-Cruz v. Univ. of P.R.,
676 F.3d 220, 224 (1st Cir. 2012)). Next, the Court
“determine[s] whether the remaining factual content
allows a ‘reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Id.
(quoting Morales-Cruz, 676 F.3d at 224). “[T]he court
may not disregard properly pled factual allegations,
‘even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of
those facts is improbable.'” Ocasio-Hernandez
v. Fortuño-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” however, a
claim may be dismissed. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
document filed pro se is to be liberally construed,
and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded,
must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted). “However, pro se
status does not insulate a party from complying with
procedural and substantive law.” Ahmed v.
Rosenblatt 118 F.3d 886, 890 (1st Cir. 1997).
requests three forms of relief: (1) to recover for violations
of his constitutional and statutory rights; (2) to compel
responses to certain interrogatories, requests for admission,
and requests for productions served prior to his filing this
action; and (3) to enforce an arrest warrant allegedly issued
by a Massachusetts court on a non-party.
respect to Johnson's due process claim, “[d]ue
process is flexible and calls for such procedural protections
as the particular situation demands.” Mathews v.
Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 334 (1976) (quoting
Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 481 (1972)). The
degree of process required in any given situation is informed
by “the private interest that will be affected by the
official action; . . . the risk of an erroneous deprivation
of such interest through the procedures used, and the
probable value, if any, of additional or substitute
procedural safeguards; and finally, the Government's
interest” in avoiding the financial and administrative
burdens that more process would entail. Id at 335
(citation omitted). As the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial
Court has recognized, “public housing tenants
‘represent some of the most needy and vulnerable
segments of our population, including low-income families,
children, the elderly, and the handicapped.' It is for
these reasons that a tenant's interest in her public
housing tenancy ‘is a protected ...