United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Abingdon Division
Shamsiddeen Hatcher, Pro Se Plaintiff
Timothy McConville and Luke Archer, Odin, Feldman &
Pittleman, P.C., Reston, Virginia, for Defendant TM
Associates Management, Inc.
P. Jones United States District Judge.
plaintiff in this case, Shamsiddeen Hatcher, proceeding pro
se, seeks damages for alleged violations of the Fair Housing
Act. Because I find that the Second Amended Complaint fails
to state a viable claim, I will grant the defendant's
Motion to Dismiss.
alleges in his Second Amended Complaint that in June of 2006,
the former property managers of the Woodland Apartments
complex (“Woodland”) in Bristol, Virginia, barred
him from the premises for creating a disturbance. He further
alleges that on the day he was barred from the premises there
were no disturbances, only a “peaceful basketball
game.” Second Am. Compl. 3, ECF No. 26. He
asserts that he was barred and forced to vacate his apartment
as a result of racial profiling and discrimination.
Associates Management, Inc. (“TMAM”) is the
current property manager of Woodland. Hatcher alleges that
despite his repeated requests to be removed from the barred
list, TMAM and its property manager, Kayla Sutherland,
refuse to remove Hatcher's name from
the list, which prohibits him from being a tenant or visiting
friends and family who reside at the apartment complex. He
seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
has moved to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint for failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, asserting
a number of grounds for dismissal. The motion has been fully
briefed and is now ripe for decision.
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency
of a complaint. . . .” Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A motion
to dismiss “does not resolve contests surrounding the
facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses.” Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin,
980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). In ruling on a motion to
dismiss, the court must regard as true all of the factual
allegations contained in the complaint, Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), and must view those
facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 406 (2002).
“Where, as here, the motion to dismiss involves a civil
rights complaint, [I] must be especially solicitous of the
wrongs alleged and must not dismiss the complaint unless it
appears to a certainty that the plaintiff would not be
entitled to relief under any legal theory which might
plausibly be suggested by the facts alleged.” Rios
v. Veale, 648 F. App'x 369, 370 (4th Cir. 2016)
(unpublished). Furthermore, where the plaintiff is
proceeding without a lawyer, the court has an obligation to
construe the complaint liberally. See Vinnedge v.
Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977).
12(b)(6) does “not require heightened fact pleading of
specifics, but only 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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Further, “the tenet that a court must accept as true
all of the allegations contained in a complaint is
inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Id. at
678. “While legal conclusions can provide the framework
of a complaint, they must be supported by factual
allegations.” Id. at 679.
Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. § 3613,
grants a private right of action for an alleged
discriminatory housing practice. Such action thus arises
under federal law for purposes of the federal question
jurisdiction statute. 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
argues that the Second Amended Complaint must be dismissed
because Hatcher again fails to sufficiently plead his FHA
claim. Specifically, TMAM asserts that despite this
court's instructions to “provide adequate factual
allegations supporting the claim of discriminatory
motivation, ” Hatcher v. TM Associates, Inc.,
1:17CV00019, 2017 WL 4079536, at *2 (W.D. Va. Sept. 14,
2017), Hatcher's claim again fails to allege facts
showing that the defendants were motivated by a
discriminatory animus. The FHA prohibits discriminatory
practices regarding the sale or rental of housing.
See 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a) (prohibiting the
refusal “to sell or rent after the making of a bona
fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental
of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any
person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial
status, or national origin.”). Section 3604 of the FHA
also provides that it is unlawful “[t]o discriminate
against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of
sale or rental of a dwelling . . . because of race, color,
religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.” 42
U.S.C. § 3604(b). “A plaintiff may demonstrate a
prima facie case of discrimination by showing that the
challenged practice was motivated by a discriminatory purpose
or had a discriminatory impact.” Sudduth v.
Vasquez, No. 1:08CV1106, 2009 WL 211572, at *2 (E.D. Va.
Jan. 26, 2009) (citing Betsey v. Turtle Creek
Assocs., 736 F.2d 983, 986 (4th Cir. 1984)).
the case for Hatcher's prior complaint, the Second
Amended Complaint contains minimal facts and falls short of
the pleading standard. Indeed, Hatcher alleges no new facts.
Instead, he simply asserts that “the court overlooked
or misunderstood the amended complaint.” Second Am.
Compl. 1, ECF No. 26. Hatcher again alleges that he is
African American. His allegations supporting discrimination
on account of his race relate to a 2006 incident which
involved the prior apartment manager. He claims that as a
result of the incident, the former manager barred him and
“all of the African Americans” involved in the
incident from the premises. Id. at 3. Hatcher
further claims that TMAM has violated the FHA and his
constitutional rights by continuing to enforce this
“discriminative policy.” Id. He has not
alleged any additional facts to support his claim that the
actions of TMAM or its employee were motivated by a
discriminatory purpose. Such conclusory allegations of
discrimination, absent factual support, cannot withstand
TMAM's Motion to Dismiss. I previously directed that