United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
A. BRADY JUDGE
operative “pleading” in this case, brought by pro
se Plaintiff Carl Lee Ledford, is located at docket entry 44.
The named Defendants are Katrika Williams, Amy Gepfert, and
Elisa Cupp, all of whom are employees of another named
Defendant, Monroe Group, Ltd. (Monroe Group). Monroe Group is
the property manager for East Central Towers, an apartment
complex located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Plaintiff was a
tenant of the East Central Towers. Another named Defendant,
Community Housing Concepts East Central, LLC (Community
Housing), owns East Central Towers. Finally, Plaintiff has
sued the Indiana Housing and [Community] Development
Authority (IHCDA). His lawsuit centers around the termination
of his lease and the assessment of late fees and rent.
was previously granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis on
grounds that he was unable to pay the filing fee [ECF No. 3].
Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment [ECF No. 52], filed by Williams, Gepfert,
Cupp, Community Housing, and Monroe Group. Plaintiff has
filed a Memorandum in Response [ECF No. 55], and Defendants
filed a Reply [ECF No. 56]. For the reasons set forth in this
Opinion and Order, the Court finds that Defendants are
entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the federal
claims, and that Plaintiff cannot proceed on any claims
judgment is warranted when “the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The non-moving party must marshal and
present the Court with evidence on which a reasonable jury
could rely to find in their favor. Goodman v. Nat'l
Sec. Agency, Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th Cir. 2010). A
court must deny a motion for summary judgment when the
nonmoving party presents admissible evidence that creates a
genuine issue of material fact. Luster v. Ill. Dep't
of Corrs., 652 F.3d 726, 731 (7th Cir. 2011) (citations
omitted). A court's role in deciding a motion for summary
judgment “is not to sift through the evidence,
pondering the nuances and inconsistencies, and decide whom to
believe. The court has one task and one task only: to decide,
based on the evidence of record, whether there is any
material dispute of fact that requires a trial.”
Waldridge v. Am. Heochst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920
(7th Cir. 1994).
that are outcome determinative under the applicable law are
material for summary judgment purposes. Smith ex rel.
Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 427 (7th Cir. 1997).
Although a bare contention that an issue of material fact
exists is insufficient to create a factual dispute, a court
must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party, view all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor, Bellaver v. Quanex Corp., 200
F.3d 485, 491-92 (7th Cir. 2000), and avoid “the
temptation to decide which party's version of the facts
is more likely true, ” Payne v. Pauley, 337
F.3d 767, 770 (7th Cir. 2003).
has responded to Defendants' Motion, but has also invoked
Rule 54(d), arguing that the motion is premature because the
parties have not engaged in discovery. Rule 54(d) permits a
nonmovant to show “by affidavit or declaration that,
for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to
justify its opposition.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d). The court
may defer considering the motion, allow time to obtain
affidavits or declarations or to take discovery, or issue any
other appropriate order. Id.
56 does not require that discovery take place in all cases
before summary judgment can be granted. In fact, the Seventh
Circuit has noted that ‘the fact that discovery is not
complete-indeed has not begun-need not defeat a motion for
summary judgment.'” Waterloo Furniture
Components, Ltd. v. Haworth, Inc., 467 F.3d 641, 648
(7th Cir. 2006) (quoting Am. Nurses' Ass'n. v.
Ill., 783 F.2d 716, 729 (7th Cir. 1986)) (internal
citations and brackets omitted). A party seeking Rule
56(d)'s protection must make a good faith showing that it
cannot respond to the movant's affidavit. Kalis v.
Colgate-Palmolive Co., 231 F.3d 1049, 1058 n.5 (7th Cir.
2000). This requires an affidavit from the non-movant
specifically identifying the material facts that it
anticipates discovering. See Grundstat v. Ritt, 166
F.3d 867, 873 (7th Cir. 1999) (finding vague assertions that
discovery would develop genuine issues of material fact
insufficient to grant continuance). Rule 56(d)
“requires a party opposing summary judgment to do more
than request a ‘fishing expedition' in the hope of
finding evidence sufficient to establish the existence of a
genuine issue of material fact.” Cima v. WellPoint
Health Networks, Inc., 556 F.Supp.2d 901, 905 (S.D. Ill.
2008) (citing Davis v. G.N. Mortgage Corp., 396 F.3d
869, 885 (7th Cir. 2005)).
litigation has been ongoing for over a year. Although
Plaintiff claims the motion for summary judgment is
premature, he has not identified any material fact that would
be discoverable. Rather, Plaintiff states that discovery is
necessary to “properly address issues of additional
supporting evidence of foul conduct.” (Pl.'s Resp.
7, ECF No. 55.) This vague response does not provide any
grounds to defer considering Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment, allow time to obtain affidavits or
declarations, or to take discovery. Accordingly, the Court
will rule on the Motion for Summary Judgment.
August 2012, Plaintiff was approved for residency in an
apartment at East Central Towers. Community Housing owns East
Central Towers, which is managed by Monroe Group. East
Central Towers is a Section 8 recipient through the IHCDA.
Because Plaintiff was indigent, his initial rent was
appropriated at $0.00.
in 2013, Plaintiff's annual recertification for reduced
rental eligibility was conducted every August. In June 2016,
Plaintiff began receiving monthly disability payments of
$735.00. A Lease Amendment dated June 9, 2017, advised
Plaintiff that his payment would be $25.00 beginning in
August 2017. However, he was also scheduled for
recertification on August 1, 2018.
recertification, and due to his receipt of disability income,
Williams and Gepfert appropriated Plaintiff's rent at
$187.00, beginning on November 1, 2017. His utility allowance
remained at $34.00. Plaintiffs Residence Ledger reveals these
changes, and shows Plaintiffs payment of the amounts due
around the 5th of each month.
March 1, 2018, Plaintiff received a Notice of Utility
Allowance and Rent Change. Williams, in her Affidavit, states
that the Notice advised Plaintiff that his utility bill was
to be decreased by $1.00, and his rent would increase by the
same amount, $1.00. While those were the actual changes, the
Notice contains a discrepancy at the beginning of paragraph
three when it references an increase in the utility
allowance and corresponding decrease in rent. The
AH Household Members:
This is to notify you that Indiana Quadel and HUD have
reviewed and approved the owner's required annual
analysis of the utility allowance for your Section 8 Unit at
East Central Towers. During this process, both
parties considered all information provided by project
management as well as any comments provided by tenants during
the 30-day comment period.
Pursuant to this assessment, HUD has approved a change in
your utility allowance from $34.00 to $33.00 effective
This letter shall also serve as your 30-day notification that
your monthly rent will Decrease by the same aiJjPMn}
that your utility allowance increased. Effective
04/01/2018. your new monthly rent will
be $188.00) . This notice amends
Paragraph 3 of your lease agreement, which
sets forth the amount of rent you pay each
You have the right to meet with management to discuss this
rent change. Please contact the office if you ...