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Allen v. Jordan

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

January 13, 2020

PHILLIP JORDAN, et al., Defendants.


          L. Patrick Auld United States Magistrate Judge

         This case comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (the “Application”)(Docket Entry 1) filed in conjunction with his pro se Complaint (Docket Entry 2). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Plaintiff's instant Application for the limited purpose of recommending dismissal of this action, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), for failure to state a claim.


         “The federal in forma pauperis [‘IFP'] statute, first enacted in 1892 [and now codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915], is intended to guarantee that no citizen shall be denied access to the courts ‘solely because his poverty makes it impossible for him to pay or secure the costs.'” Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951, 953 (4th Cir. 1995) (en banc) (quoting Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 342 (1948)). “Dispensing with filing fees, however, [is] not without its problems. Parties proceeding under the statute d[o] not face the same financial constraints as ordinary litigants. In particular, litigants suing [IFP] d[o] not need to balance the prospects of successfully obtaining relief against the administrative costs of bringing suit.” Nagy v. Federal Med. Ctr. Butner, 376 F.3d 252, 255 (4th Cir. 2004).

         To address this concern, the IFP statute provides, in relevant part, that “the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that the action or appeal fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). A complaint falls short when it does not “contain 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) (emphasis added) (internal citations omitted) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). This standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. In other words, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.[1]


         Asserting claims under “42 U.S.C. § 1983” for violation of his rights under the “14th Amendment, Section 1[, ] 42 USC[] 3604(A) [, ] 28 USC 4101 [Slander and Libel][, ] 42 USC[] 3613(A)(1)[, and] 45 USC[] 3619, ” Plaintiff initiated this action against four defendants: (1) “Phillip Jordan” (“Defendant Jordan”), (2) “Juanita English” (“Defendant English”), (3) “Lenin Martinez-Gallo” (“Defendant Martinez-Gallo”), and (4) “Denise Forbes” (“Defendant Forbes”). (Docket Entry 2 at 1-3 (brackets around “Slander and Libel” as in original).) The Complaint states the following as the basis for asserting claims under Section 1983:

[Plaintiff] ha[s] filed applications with Lennox at [P]atterson [P]lace and Feather Stone Apartments on more than one occasion in which each application was rejected due to inaccurate information derived from third party reporting agencies associated with Equifax, Trans-Union and Experian. Each complaint [Plaintiff] ha[s] filed with [h]uman relations[, Plaintiff] was [] told that [h]uman relations will not investigate, even after [Plaintiff] informed them that the charges were dismissed or expunged.

(Id. at 4.) The Complaint's “Statement of Claim” states the following in its entirety:

Initially, an order was entered by Human [R]elations on 05/9/2019 in re HUD # 04-16-5439-8 [a]nd [] ¶ 06/12/2017 regarding HUD # 04-16-4944-8. Dismissal of these complaints occurred in Durham[, ] North Carolina-Human Relations--agency # H-05-R-17 and Agency # H-13-R-17. Moreover, [Plaintiff] filed complaints with Human [R]elation[s] regarding denial of housing by Lennox at [P]atterson [P]lace and [F]eather [S]tone [A]partments the month of 06/2019 and it was communicated to [him] by [I]ntake [S]pecialist [Defendant] Forbes that the[re] would be no investigation.
With [F]eatherstone [A]partments[, ] the initial complaint [was] filed [on] 05/5/2017 and [Plaintiff] reapplied on 06/11/2019[ a]nd for Lennox at [P]atterson [P]lace . . . [Plaintiff] filed a[] complaint 06/12/2017 and [] reapplied on 06/5/2019. [ O]n July 9th, 2019[, ] a letter was sent by certified mail to [Plaintiff's] mother's place of residence . . . [f]rom Neighborhood [I]mprovement [S]ervices of Durham/Human [R]elation[s] stating ‘[t]he alleged violation is not a[] prohibited act' and that [Plaintiff] did not provide adequate information and did not sign[. However, ] [Plaintiff] was not contacted to sign any form or asked to produce further information.
[Plaintiff] was discriminate[d] against[] because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin and thes[e] acts were manifested by proxies of [H]uman [R]elations.

(Id. at 4-5.) The Complaint also alleges that Plaintiff suffered “mental angu[ish and] homelessness” (id. at 5 (emphasis omitted)), and further requests that, “[i]f the [C]ourt finds [that] discriminatory housing practices occurred, . . . [that he] be compensated in the amount of $250, 000.00 or . . . an amount that the [C]ourt [finds] sufficient” (id. at 6).

         The Complaint also appends a (i) letter from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which confirms receipt of Plaintiff's complaint and indicates referral to the Durham Human Relations Commission (id. at 8); (ii) a rejection letter from the City of Durham's Neighborhood Improvement Services Department, Human Relations Division (“Human Relations”), signed by Defendant Jordan, notifying Plaintiff of the deficiencies in his complaint (id. at 9); (iii) an order and a portion of the report from Human Relations which details the investigation into the Plaintiff's complaint filed against Lenox at Patterson Place (“Lenox”) (id. at 10-12); and (iv) a rejection letter from Lenox explaining that Plaintiff's “rental application [w]as [] declined because [Plaintiff] . . . did not meet ...

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