United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr., Judge
Mary Beth Wright alleges that the Mishawaka Housing Authority
and its former director, Colleen Olund, discriminated against
her on the basis of her handicap when it removed and
destroyed her wheelchair, furniture, and other property while
she was hospitalized. She also argues that she represents a
class of similarly situated persons. Both defendants move to
dismiss the action and to strike the class allegations.
Wright alleges that she was an MHA tenant. While hospitalized
in 2015 for problems associated with her disability, MHA sent
a notice to her unit that it was evicting her and removing
her wheelchair, furniture, and personal property because the
apartment had bedbugs. Ms. Wright's attorney, R. Wyatt
Mick, Jr., allegedly sent a letter to MHA and called MHA
numerous times informing them of her hospitalization. Mr.
Mick explained to MHA that Tom Leland, who had a durable
power of attorney for Ms. Wright, held funds in a trust
account to help Ms. Wright move out of the apartment. Mr.
Mick called MHA to try to make arrangements for Ms.
Wright's possessions to be moved out. Mr. Mick and Ms.
Wright's priest learned that MHA had already removed and
destroyed her property, including her motorized wheelchair.
Mr. Mick asked MHA at an earlier date if other units were
infested with bedbugs, MHA staff responded that they
couldn't provide that information. Mr. Mick inferred that
other residents had bedbugs that migrated to Ms. Wright's
unit. Ms. Wright alleges that Mr. Mick never spoke to the
same person twice when he contacted MHA about Ms. Wright, and
that his calls always went to voicemail before he could speak
Wright alleges that MHA knew for years that Ms. Wright
required a wheelchair and walker. She alleges that Mr. Mick
and his wife picked Ms. Wright up for church for several
years and that MHA knew it was difficult for her to get into
Mr. Mick's car.
Wright alleges that Mr. Mick sent a tort claims notice to
MHA, an administrative complaint against MHA to HUD, and
correspondence to Ms. Olund with the facts of the case, and
that these documents informed MHA of Ms. Wright's need
for accommodations and summarized communications between MHA
and Mr. Mick.
of Review Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes
dismissal of a complaint that fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, a complaint typically must meet the “notice
pleading” requirement of Rule 8(a), that it set forth
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief, ” so the defendant
has “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
considering a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) must accept the
complaint's factual allegations as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff without
engaging in fact-finding. Reynolds v. CB Sports Bar,
Inc., 623 F.3d 1143, 1146 (7th Cir. 2010). Detailed
factual allegations aren't necessary, but merely reciting
the elements of a cause of action isn't sufficient.
factual allegations must be sufficient to raise the
possibility of relief above the “speculative
level.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. The plaintiff must allege facts that, when
“accepted as true, [ ] state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face. . . . 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) (internal quotations
omitted). A plaintiff's claim need not be probable, only
plausible, but “a plaintiff must do better than putting
a few words on paper that, in the hands of an imaginative
reader, might suggest that something has happened to
her that might be redressed by the law.”
Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th
Cir. 2010) (emphasis in original).
Wright bases her claims of discrimination on three
anti-discrimination statutes: the Federal Housing Act
Amendments, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the
Rehabilitation Act. She also argues that MHA violated the Due
Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the
Constitution, and Indiana conversion and constitutional law.
Claims Under the Federal Anti-Discrimination Statutes
Wright's first argument is that MHA violated her rights
under the Fair Housing Act Amendments when it discriminated
against her on account of her disability. The FHAA makes it
(1) To discriminate in the sale or rental, or to otherwise
make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any buyer or renter
because of a handicap ...