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Hill v. Bayside Woods

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

October 4, 2016

KRISTIN S. HILL, Plaintiff,



         Presently pending before the Court are Defendant Bayside Woods, HOA Inc.'s (“Bayside”) Motion to Dismiss, [Filing No. 22], and Defendant Eads, Murray and Pugh, PC's (“EMP”) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, [Filing No. 26], on pro se Plaintiff Kristin S. Hill's Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) claims, [Filing No. 4]. Ms. Hill opposes both motions. [Filing No. 34; Filing No. 45.] For the reasons that follow, the Court grants the pending motions. [Filing No. 22; Filing No. 26.]

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary, the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) “is governed by the same standards as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6).” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742 F.3d 720, 727-28 (7th Cir. 2014). A motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint “contain[s] 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal, Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief “to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. When a plaintiff “pleads [herself] out of court by making allegations sufficient to defeat the suit, ” dismissal under Rule 12 is appropriate. Vincent v. City Colleges of Chicago, 485 F.3d 919, 924 (7th Cir. 2007).

         II. Relevant Background

         The following background is set forth pursuant to the applicable standards, accepting all well-pled factual allegations against Bayside Woods and EMP from Ms. Hill's Amended Complaint as true. Ms. Hill did not attached any exhibits to her Complaint or Amended Complaint. [Filing No. 1; Filing No. 4.] Thus, all representations regarding the contents of the Bayside Woods homeowners' covenants and Ms. Hill's correspondence with various individuals are based exclusively on Ms. Hill's allegations and accepted as true for these motions.

         In March 2012, Robert Ritter purchased a Bayside Woods condominium in Carmel. [Filing No. 4 at 2.] Prior to closing, Mr. Ritter was provided a copy of the Declaration of the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions at Bayside Woods (the “Covenants”). [Filing No. 4 at 2.] Mr. Ritter's daughter-Ms. Hill-moved her belongings into the condominium shortly thereafter, but she did not live in it until late May 2012. [Filing No. 4 at 2.] On April 23, 2012, Bayside Woods “sent Ritter a letter stating that their BBQ grill had damaged the siding of the building around the patio area and therefor it was their responsibility to have it repaired.” [Filing No. 4 at 2.] Ms. Hill contacted Meredith Reese, the community manager, “to inform her that the BBQ grill on the patio was not theirs; it was left by the prior owner . . . .” [Filing No. 4 at 2.] Ms. Reese asked Ms. Hill to put her dispute in writing, and she did. [Filing No. 4 at 2-3.] Specifically, Ms. Hill stated that the BBQ grill belonged to the previous owner, she did not use it, and no one lived in the condominium until after Bayside Woods sent the first letter about it. [Filing No. 4 at 3.] Ms. Hill concludes that “[t]herefore, we are not responsible for the upkeep of the outside of the building and we did not cause the damage.” [Filing No. 4 at 3.]

         On September 8, 2012, Ms. Hill found that the damaged siding had been repaired. [Filing No. 4 at 3.] She contacted Ms. Reese, who responded, “Sorry for the delay in responding. The Board determined the repair would still be your responsibility. We will be sending you a letter shortly with the information; if you are in disagreement you are certainly welcome to petition again.” [Filing No. 4 at 3.] In a subsequent communication, Ms. Reese told Ms. Hill that the Board vote had been unanimous and that “[t]he damage is the owner's responsibility.” [Filing No. 4 at 3.]

         On October 24, 2012, Bayside Woods “sent Ritter an invoice for $355.48” and a letter stating:

Enclosed is Invoice 94967 for a CASI maintenance service call to replace the siding damaged by the heat of a BBQ grill. Since the issue was deemed an “owner responsibility” the Association is not responsible for payment of this service. The total amount due is $355.48. This charge [h]as been applied to your homeowner account.

[Filing No. 4 at 4.] Ms. Hill petitioned, citing the Covenants, which provide as follows:

[T]he Association shall provide exterior maintenance upon each lot which is subject to assessment hereunder, as follows: . . . exterior building surfaces and other exterior improvements. . . . In the event that the need for maintenance or repair is caused through the willful or negligent act of the owner, his family, guests, or invitees, the cost of such maintenance or repairs shall be added to and become a part of the assessment of which such Lot is subject.

[Filing No. 4 at 4.] Ms. Hill's letter to Bayside Woods states that it “has not provided any reasonable basis for its conclusion that we are responsible for the costs of repairing the damage regardless of whether we caused the damage or even that the damage was caused by a grill. If the Association believes that the prior owners did cause the damage the Association had the opportunity to notify them of the damage and repair it at their expense if they didn't challenge that . . . .” [Filing No. 4 at 4.] On November 27, 2012, Ms. Hill sent a notarized affidavit to Ms. Reese stating that “at no ...

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