Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Maitland v. Lunn

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 21, 2017

EDSON MAITLAND and EDSON MAITLAND, JR., Plaintiffs,
v.
FAWN-NITA LUNN, TOWN OF HEMPSTEAD and NASSAU COUNTY SOCIAL SERVICES, Defendants.

          For Plaintiffs: Edson Maitland, pro se Edson Maitland, Jr., pro se

          For Defendants: Fawn-Nita Lunn No appearance.

          Town of Hempstead Daniel James Evers, Esq.Joseph E. Macy, Esq. Donna A. Napolitano, Esq. Berkman, Henoch, Peterson Federico A. Amorini, Esq. Nassau County Pablo A. Fernandez, Esq.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          JOANNA SEYBERT U.S.D.J.

         This matter arises out of a lease agreement between pro se Plaintiffs and their tenant, Fawn-Nita Lunn, in which the Town of Hempstead (the “Town”) and the Nassau County Department of Social Services[1] (the “County”) contributed housing assistance payments. (Compl., Docket Entry 1, ¶¶ 14, 18.) Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit seeking compensation for unpaid rent and property damage. (Compl. ¶¶ 59, 64-65.) The Town moved to dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, untimely service of process, and failure to state a claim. (Town's Br., Docket Entry 24, at 7-17.) While that motion was pending, Plaintiffs asked the Court (1) to impose sanctions for alleged discovery violations and (2) to compel the production of unredacted documents. (Mot. for Sanctions, Docket Entry 52; Mot. to Compel, Docket Entry 53.)

         By Memorandum and Order (“M&O”) dated March 4, 2016, the Court dismissed this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Plaintiffs failed to satisfy the $75, 000 amount-in-controversy requirement. (March 2016 M&O, Docket Entry 58, at 7- 8.) The Court also dismissed Plaintiffs' remaining motions as moot. (Id. at 11.)

         Plaintiffs now move for reconsideration. (Recons. Mot., Docket Entry 59.) For the reasons that follow, their motion is DENIED, but the Court grants Plaintiffs leave to file an amended complaint to plead facts that satisfy the minimum jurisdictional amount.

         BACKGROUND

         The underlying facts are outlined in the Court's prior opinion. (See March 2016 M&O at 2-5.) The salient details, with additional history, are provided below.[2]

I. The Facts

         Pro se Plaintiffs own property located in Nassau County, New York (the “Property”). (Compl. ¶ 16; see generally Lease Agmt.[3]) To assist Lunn in leasing the Property, the Town entered into a Housing Assistance Payment contract (the “HAP Contract”) with Plaintiffs. (HAP Contract at 8-17.) In other words, the Town, as the Public Housing Agency (“PHA”), would contribute housing assistance payments. (HAP Contract at 8, ¶ 7.) During the relevant time periods, the Town's contribution was $1, 874, and either Lunn or the County contributed the remaining $558. (Compl. ¶¶ 51, 53, 72-73; HAP Contract at 14, ¶ 5(a) (“The family is responsible for paying the owner any portion of the rent to owner that is not covered by the PHA housing assistance payment.”).) If any property damage occurred, Lunn was responsible:

• “Tenant must pay for damages suffered and money spent by Landlord relating to any claim arising from any act or neglect of Tenant. Tenant is responsible for all acts of Tenant's family, employees, guests or invitees.”[4] (Lease Agmt. at 19 ¶ 9.)
• “The PHA has no liability or responsibility to the owner or other persons for the family's behavior or the family's conduct in tenancy.” (HAP Contract at 10 ¶ 2(e).)
• “The PHA is only responsible for making housing assistance payments to the owner . . . The PHA shall not pay any other claim by the owner against the family.” (Id. at 11 ¶ 7(e)(1)-(2).)
• “If the security deposit is not sufficient to cover amounts the tenant owes under the lease, the owner may collect the balance from the tenant.” (Id. at 16 ¶ 12(d).)

         The Town terminated the HAP Contract--and thus the Lease Agreement--effective May 1, 2014 because Lunn did not submit certain documentation. (Town's Termination Ltr. at 36; HAP Contract at 16 ¶ 9 (“If the HAP contract terminates for any reason, the lease terminates automatically.”).) Lunn appealed but was unsuccessful. (Appeal Decision at 39 (“Based upon the evidence presented, it is the Decision of this Hearing Officer that Ms. Fawn-Nita Lunns' [sic] participation in the Section 8 Program be terminated effective July 31, 2014.”).)

         Nevertheless, Lunn did not vacate the Property until November 5, 2014. (Recons. Mot. at 1.) After she moved out, a Town building inspector noted the following issues:

• The living room required covers for electrical outlets and light switches.
• The bathroom and the kitchen were left in an unsanitary state. The kitchen's electrical panel had been tampered with.
• The Property's exterior was covered with debris and garbage. The rain gutters were clogged.
• A building permit for the finished basement was open.
• Throughout the unit, the ceilings, walls, doors, and floors were in a state of disrepair.
• All bedrooms required smoke detectors.

         (Inspector's Nov. 24, 2014 Ltr. at 41.) Previously, in January 2014, a Town building inspector noted some of these issues. (Inspector's Jan. 28, 2014 Ltr. at 22-30 (noting, among other items, missing smoke detectors, unresolved building permit, damaged doors, floors, and living room walls).)

         II. The Procedural History

         Plaintiffs filed the Complaint on October 6, 2014. (Docket Entry 1.) The Town was served by the United States Marshals Service on April 20, 2015. (Docket Entry 17.) Plaintiffs contends that the United States Marshals Service failed to timely serve the Town. (Pl.'s May 4, 2015 Ltr., Docket Entry 19, at 1.)

         Plaintiffs asserted three claims against the Town: breach of contract, (Compl. ¶¶ 47-66); unjust enrichment, (Compl. ¶¶ 67-76); and equitable estoppel, (Compl. ¶¶ 78-98).[5] Construed liberally, the Complaint seeks equitable relief, injunctive relief, compensatory damages, and emotional distress damages. (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 108(a)-(c).) Although the Complaint states that “[t]he amount in controversy is in excess of $75, 000.00 U.S.D which include[s] costs and fees, ” (Compl. ¶ 3), each cause of action seeks $37, 106 in damages: $18, 050 in property damage and $19, 056 in unpaid rent as of October 2014.[6] (Compl. ¶¶ 59, 64-65.)

         On May 12, 2015, the Town moved to dismiss the Complaint on three grounds: (1) Plaintiffs failed to satisfy the $75, 000 amount-in-controversy requirement, (Town's Br. at 7-10); (2) Plaintiffs did not serve the Town with a summons and complaint within 120 days of filing the Complaint with the Court, (id. at 10- 12); and (3) Plaintiffs failed to state a claim, (id. at 12-17).[7]

         Plaintiffs filed a two-page opposition which provided no substantive response to the Town's arguments on damages. (Pl.'s Opp., Docket Entry 27, at 1.) Plaintiffs noted that Lunn vacated the Property after the Complaint was filed but did not clarify whether additional damages occurred. (Id. at 1, 7.) Instead, Plaintiffs stated only that “[t]he amount in controversy is over $75, 000.00 in Property Damage and Back Rent.” (Id. at 1.)

         On January 19, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a motion for sanctions against the Town and the County for alleged noncompliance with discovery. (Docket Entry 52.) Plaintiffs also filed a request to remove the redacted portion of certain documents. (Docket Entry 53.)

         On March 4, 2016, the Court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction:

Plaintiffs state, flatly and without more, that “[t]he amount in controversy is in excess of $75, 000.00 U.S.D which include[s] costs and fees.” But that contention is belied by their damages calculation, which amounts to $37, 106 against all Defendants. . . . Moreover, the Complaint does not state that the precise amount of damages is uncertain or that damages continue to accrue, nor do Plaintiffs offer any ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.