The opinion of the court was delivered by: BLOCK
Plaintiffs Tami Ohana and Edith Stern, pro se, commenced this action against, inter alia, Ruth Jackson ("Jackson") and Gloria Phelps ("Phelps"), seeking monetary damages against these defendants for their alleged interference with plaintiffs' rights under § 3617 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq. ("FHA"), and an implementing regulation, 24 C.F.R. § 100.400. Presently before the Court are Jackson's and Phelps' motions to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint, as amended, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. The Court denies their motions. In so doing, the Court holds that the FHA not only protects individuals from discrimination in the acquisition of their residences because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin, but also protects them from interference by their neighbors for such discriminatory reasons in the peaceful enjoyment of their homes.
Plaintiffs' amended complaint alleges the following pertinent facts: On December 12, 1991, plaintiffs moved into Apartment 4D at 170 Prospect Place, Brooklyn, New York.
From that day forward, until they moved out the following December, Jackson and Phelps, their not-too-friendly neighbors, engaged in a series of discriminatory acts against them based upon plaintiffs' race (Hebrew), religion (Jewish), and national origin (Middle Eastern).
These acts took the form of racial and anti-Jewish slurs and epithets, threats of bodily harm, and noise disturbances. For example, on the day after plaintiffs moved in, Phelps "stalked plaintiffs in front of their [apartment] door and said she is 'unhappy that whites moved next door.'" On another occasion, Jackson "yelled loudly 'I'll have the motherf ker Jews out.'" At times, Phelps and Jackson also banged on walls and hammered late at night while shouting their slurs and epithets. Specifically, on at least two occasions, Jackson "hammered loudly while hollering 'Jews move,' [at] around 2:00 a.m. and 2:30 a.m., startling [plaintiffs] awake." On another occasion, Jackson "forced herself into [plaintiffs'] apartment and put her fist in plaintiff Stern's face saying she had 'already hit the landlord.'" In another incident, Jackson "accosted plaintiff Stern in the hall . . . and shouted at plaintiff Stern that 'she was not black enough to live in the building' and that she'll 'send an Arab to kill her.'"
Visitors to Jackson's and Phelps' apartments participated in this type of abusive activity. For example, plaintiffs allege that "defendant Jackson with other tenants from 170 Prospect Pl., and visitors to her Apt. ( # 3D) directed threats of bodily harm and anti-Jewish epithets at plaintiffs, intentionally done during the Jewish holiday of Purim."
A. Standard for a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
A complaint should only be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) "if it appears that [the plaintiffs] can prove no set of facts, consistent with [their] complaint, that would entitle [them] to relief." Electronics Communications Corp. v. Toshiba America Consumer Prods., Inc., 129 F.3d 240, 242-43 (2d Cir. 1997). Furthermore, "the court must accept as true all the factual allegations in the complaint and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Hamilton Chapter of Alpha Delta Phi, Inc. v. Hamilton College, 128 F.3d 59, 63. A pro se complaint is held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652, 92 S. Ct. 594 (1972).
The United States Supreme Court has noted that the FHA is "a comprehensive open housing law." Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409, 413, 20 L. Ed. 2d 1189, 88 S. Ct. 2186 (1968).
The purpose of the FHA, as expressed by Congress, is "to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States." 42 U.S.C. § 3601. Thus, it is intended to promote "open, integrated residential housing patterns and to prevent the increase of segregation, in ghettos, of racial groups whose lack of opportunities the Act was designed to combat." Otero v. New York City Housing Auth., 484 F.2d 1122, 1134 (2d Cir. 1973). In order to achieve its purpose, the provisions of the FHA are to be construed broadly. See Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 211-12, 34 L. Ed. 2d 415, 93 S. Ct. 364 (1972). Consistent with its broad reach, the FHA provides for both private and governmental rights of action. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612-3614.
42 U.S.C. § 3617 is the section that triggers liability under the FHA. It states:
It shall be unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right ...