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Joellen Petrillo v. Schultz Properties

October 13, 2011

JOELLEN PETRILLO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SCHULTZ PROPERTIES, INC., HOLCOMB VILLAGE
ASSOCIATES, HOLCOMB VILLAGE TOWNHOMES, WAYNE SCHULTZ, AND CURT SCHULTZ, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Joellen Petrillo ("Petrillo") brings this action against defendants Schultz Properties, Inc., Holcomb Village Associates, Holcomb Village Townhomes, Wayne Schultz, and Curt Schultz, claiming that the defendants discriminated against her with respect to her rental of a townhome from them. Specifically, Petrillo, who alleges that she is disabled as a result of cancer, claims that the defendants declined to renew her yearly lease, substantially increased her rent, and have attempted to evict her all in retaliation for her being disabled and/or complaining to several advocacy and governmental agencies that the defendants failed to accommodate her disability.

By Order dated September 29, 2011, I granted plaintiff's motion for a Temporary Restraining Order preventing the defendants from evicting her, or taking any action to evict her. Plaintiff now seeks a preliminary injunction to continue the relief granted by the Temporary Restraining Order. For the reasons set forth below, I deny plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Joellen Petrillo is a tenant residing in the Holcomb Village Townhomes. In May, 2010, she entered into a one-year lease with the defendants to rent a townhome at the rate of $670.00 per month. Under the terms of her lease, the rental period ended on May 31, 2011, and the defendants retained the right not to renew the lease.

Plaintiff alleges that she suffers from an unspecified cancer, and as a result is disabled. She claims that she requested various accommodations from the defendants, but that they refused to accommodate her disability. She contends that she was forced to seek help from governmental authorities and advocacy agencies to compel the defendants to accommodate her needs. She claims that as a result of her actions, or because of her disability, the defendants decided not to offer to renew her lease on a yearly basis. Instead, plaintiff alleges that the defendants offered her a month-to-month lease at a rate of $690.00 per month. After she refused to accept the new lease, she claims that the defendants have attempted to evict her.

By Verified Complaint filed September 29, 2011, plaintiff brought the instant action seeking inter alia, injunctive relief prohibiting the defendants from attempting to evict her. By Order dated September 29, 2011, I granted plaintiff's request for a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting the defendants from proceeding with efforts to evict her. That relief is scheduled to expire at 5:00 p.m. on October 13, 2011. Thereafter, I scheduled plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction to be submitted to the Court without argument on October 13, 2011. Having reviewed the submissions of the parties, I find, for the reasons set forth below, that plaintiff has failed to establish that she is entitled to a preliminary injunction.

DISCUSSION

I. Preliminary Injunction Standard

To be entitled to a preliminary injunction, a party must demonstrate: (1) that it is subject to irreparable harm; and (2) that it will either likely succeed on the merits of the case, or that there are sufficiently serious questions going to the merits of the case to make them a fair ground for litigation, and that a balancing of the hardships between the parties weighs decidedly in favor of the party requesting the relief. Jackson Dairy, Inc. v. H.P. Hood & Sons, Inc., 596 F.2d 70, 72 (2nd Cir. 1979).

Assuming arguendo that plaintiff has established that she is subject to irreparable harm, I find that plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that she will likely succeed on the merits of her discrimination and/or retaliation claims.

II. Standards under the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act ("the Act") provides that it is unlawful to "discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a handicap" of the person seeking housing. 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2) The Act further prohibits retaliation against any person who seeks to assert or enforce his or her rights under the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 3617. Claims of intentional discrimination under the FHA are analyzed under the burden-shifting framework originally set forth in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Frazier v. Rominger, 27 F.3d 828, 831 (2nd Cir., 1994). To state a claim for disability discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, a plaintiff must establish that she is a member of a protected class, that adverse action was taken against her, and that the adverse action took place under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination. See, e.g., Kennedy v. Related Management, 2009 WL 2222530, *4 (S.D.N.Y., July 23, 2009)("plaintiffs must ...


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