United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
C. DEVER, III, United States District Judge
October 4, 2018, Samantha Elabanjo ("Elabanjo"),
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a complaint
against Excel Property Management, Inc. ("Excel"),
Calvary Trace Apartments ("Calvary Trace"), Blake
Brazier ("Brazier"), Chris Hanson, Kimberly M.
Lilly Dupree ("Dupree"), Linda Poole
("Poole"), and Ann Hanson (collectively
"defendants") [D.E. 8]. On December 5, 2018,
defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to
state a claim [D.E. 29] and filed a memorandum in support
[D.E. 30]. On December 6, 2018, the court notified Elabanjo
about the motion, the response deadline, and the consequences
of failing to do so [D.E. 31]. See Roseboro v.
Garrison. 528 F.2d 309.310 (4th Cir. 1975) (per curiam).
OnJanuary2, 2019, Elabanjo responded in opposition [D.E. 32]
and voluntarily dismissed her retaliatory eviction claim
[D.E. 33]. On January 15, 2019, defendants replied [D.E. 34].
As explained below, the court grants defendants' motion
November 13, 2015, Elabanjo leased an apartment at Calvary
Trace in Raleigh, North Carolina. See Compl. [D.E. 8] ¶
1; [D.E. 8-3] 1. Elabanjo alleges that, because she suffers
from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder
("PTSD"), bipolar disorder, and paranoia, she
received assistance in paying for the apartment through the
North Carolina Housing Finance Agency's Key Program. See
Compl. [D.E. 8] ¶ 1. On October 31, 2016, Elabanjo's
lease ended, and Elabanjo leased the apartment
month-to-month. See id.; [D.E. 8-3] 1.
2016, Elabanjo, whose apartment was on the second floor,
began having difficulties with her upstairs neighbor. See
Compl. [D.E. 8] ¶¶ 1-3. In particular, Elabanjo
disliked her upstairs neighbor's children bouncing a ball
in the apartment, which Elabanjo said"ma[de] excessive
noise." Id. ¶ 1. Elabanjo complained to
Brazier, who told Elabanjo to contact Calvary Trace's
security contractor On Point Security or the Raleigh Police
Department. See Id. ¶ 2. On June 29, 2016, and
June 30, 2016, Elabanjo contacted On Point Security. See
Id. ¶¶ 1, 3. Elabanjo alleges that
security officers visited her apartment, told her that they
had audio and video of the incident and had prepared an
incident report, and warned her neighbor about the noise. See
Id. Elabanjo continued to have problems with her
upstairs neighbor. See Id. ¶ 4. Elabanjo
contacted Brazier concerning the incident report in July and
August 2016, but Brazier told Elabanjo that she would not
issue a violation to Elabanjo's neighbor. See id
¶¶ 4-5; cf [D.E. 8-9].
told Brazier that Brazier's refusal to issue a violation
constituted discrimination. See Compl. [D.E. 8]
¶ S. Elabanjo complained in person at Excel to Poole and
Ann Hanson about her neighbor's noise and Brazier's
response to the situation. See Id. ¶¶ 5-6.
Elabanjo alleges that Ann Hanson and Poole said that
"they would take care of both situations."
Id. ¶ 6. After the meeting, Elabanjo alleges
that Brazier confronted her in the Calvary Trace office and
said that she treats everyone fairly. See Id. ¶
7. Excel offered to move Elabanjo to an apartment on the
third floor, but Elabanjo declined because physical
disabilities prevented her from walking to the third floor.
Id.; see Id. ¶ 8. In October 2016,
Elabanjo's neighbor moved to a new unit in Calvary Trace,
and the neighbor's aunts and boyfriend allegedly
threatened Elabanjo. See Id. ¶ 8.
October 14, 2016, Elabanjo alleges that, while sitting at a
smoking booth, another Calvary Trace resident asked Elabanjo
if she had heard about the "new loitering policy."
Id. ¶ 9. Elabanjo went to the office to discuss
the new policy with Brazier. See Id. Elabanjo
alleges that Brazier told Elabanjo that "it was a lease
violation to be outside without an apparent purpose because
it looks 'suspicious'" and that residents
"needed a reason to be out in the parking lot"
Id. ¶ 10. Elabanjo also alleges that Brazier
told her it was "illegal" to walk around and get
fresh air. See id.; [D.E. 8-2]. Elabanjo taped the
conversation. See Compl. [D.E. 8] ¶ 9; [D.E. 8-2].
this conversation, Elabanjo became too paranoid to leave her
apartment See Id. ¶ 11. Elabanjo feared having
to explain to security officers why she was outside, and she
became distressed when she saw other residents walking
outside. See Id. Elabanjo alleges that she became
depressed, angry, humiliated, and suffered from PTSD. See
Id. Elabanjo and her sister met with Poole, and
Poole assured Elabanjo that she had misunderstood
Brazier's explanation of the loitering policy. See
Id. ¶ 12. Elabanjo nevertheless "continued
not to come outside" and took steps to minimize the time
that she spent outside. Id. ¶ 13.
February 27, 2017, Excel notified Elabanjo that it would not
renew her lease for the next month and that Elabanjo needed
to vacate the apartment by March 31, 2017. See Id.
¶ 14; [D.E. 8-10]. Elabanjo went to Excel and met with
Dupree, who told Elabanjo that she did not know why Excel
would not renew Elabanjo's lease. See Compl. [D.E. 8]
¶ 15. Elabanjo requested information concerning a
reasonable accommodation letter from Dupree. See Id.
¶ 16. Elabanjo then alleges that she met with Susan
Chifton ("Chifton"), a clinical operations
physician at "Monarch[, ]" where Elabanjo received
mental health treatment. Id. Chifton requested a
reasonable accommodation on Elabanjo's behalf, and
Elabanjo submitted the request to Dupree. See Id. On
March 9, 2017, Excel denied Elabanjo's request, citing
Elabanjo's "intimidating behavior."
Id. ¶ 17; see id ¶ 18; [D.E. 8-4]; [D.E.
8-7]. Elabanjo attempted to appeal the decision, and on March
14, 2017, Elabanjo received a letter denying her request. See
Compl. [D.E. 8] ¶ 19; [D.E. 8-8].
did not vacate her apartment, and Excel began the eviction
process. See Compl. [D.E. 8] ¶ 19; [D.E. 8-5]. Elabanjo
appeared before a magistrate in "small claims
court," and the magistrate ruled that Excel did not have
good cause to evict Elabanjo. See Id. ¶¶
20-21. Excel appealed. In October 2017, Elabanjo prevailed in
a non-jury trial in Wake County Civil District Court, and the
court issued an order of final judgment and made findings of
fact and conclusions of law. See id ¶¶ 25-30; [D.E.
continued to reside at Calvary Trace for approximately eight
months. On June 4 2018, Elabanjo notified Excel that she was
voluntarily vacating her apartment. See Compl. [D.E. 8]
¶¶ 31-32; [D.E. 8-6]. Elabanjo alleges that she
decided to vacate because Brazier still worked at Calvary
Trace, which allegedly caused Elabanjo emotional distress.
See Compl. [D.E. 8] ¶¶ 31-32. On July 5, 2018,
Elabanjo vacated her apartment. See [D.E. 8-6].
18, 2018, Elabanjo filed a complaint pro se in this court and
sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis [D.E. 1]. On
October 4, 2018, the court allowed Elabanjo's complaint
to proceed in part [D.E. 7]. Five claims survived frivolity
review: (1) discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing
Act of 1968, (2) breach of contract against Calvary Trace,
(3) breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment against Calvary
Trace, (4) gross negligence, and (5) retaliatory eviction
against Calvary Trace [D.E. 7]. Elabanjo seeks $10 million,
punitive damages, and injunctive relief including prohibiting
Calvary Trace from receiving tax credits for four years,
"requiring a mandatory training class on fair housing
laws, and requiring that Calvary Trace change the phrasing in
all of its future leases." [D.E. 30] 4; see Compl. [D.E.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
complaint's legal and factual sufficiency. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal.556 U.S. 662, 677-80 (2009); Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 554-63 (2007);
Coleman v. Md. Court of Appeals. 626 F.3d 187, 190
(4th Cir. 2010), affd, 566 U.S. 30 (2012); Nemet
Chevrolet Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com. Inc., 591 F.3d
250, 255 (4th Cir. 2009); Giarratano v. Johanson,521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008). To withstand a Rule
12(b)(6) motion, a pleading "must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face." Iqbal. 556 U.S.
at 678 (quotation omitted); see Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570; Giarratano, 521 F.3d at 302. In considering the
motion, the court must construe the facts and reasonable
inferences "in the light most favorable to the
[nonmoving party]." Massey v. Ojanjit, 759 F.3d
343, 352 (4th Cir. 2014); see Clatterbuck v. City of
Charlottesville.708 F.3d 549, 557 (4th Cir. 2013),
abrogated on other grounds by Reed v.
Town of Gilbert,135 S.Ct. 2218 (2015). A court need not
accept as true a complaint's legal conclusions,
"unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
arguments." Giarratano. ...