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Jones v. DeBlasio

United States District Court, E.D. New York

April 11, 2017

ROBERT JONES; REGINALD WASHINGTON; and those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
BILL DeBLASIO, “Mayor” County Executive, City of New York, Municipal Corporation; JASON TURNER, Commissioner for the City of New York, Human Resources Administration "HRA"; JO-ANN B. BARHART, Commissioner for the City of New York, Social Security Income Administration "SSI"; ALPHONSO JACKSON, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development "HUD"; VICKI BREEN, Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development "HDP"; GARY D. RODNEY, President Housing Development Co. "HDC"; MARITZA SILVA FARRELL, AFFORDABLE RENT CO.; JOHN/JANE DOE, Commissioner City of New York, Department of Social Services "DSS"; RICK DAVIS, Rockaway House LLC; and ANTHORNEY DOE, Rockaway House LLC, Defendants.


          KIYO A. MATSUMOTO United States District Judge.

         Robert Jones (“Jones”), and Reginald Washington (“Washington”)[1] bring this pro se action as a purported “class action, ” pursuant to a multitude of statutes. For the reasons discussed below, the complaint is dismissed and plaintiffs are granted thirty (30) days from the entry of this Order to file a third amended complaint as set forth below.


         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff Jones commenced this action in the Southern District of New York on August 7, 2015. (ECF No. 1, Complaint.) The matter was transferred to the Eastern District of New York on August 11, 2015. (ECF No. 2, Transfer Order.) Jones filed an Amended Complaint on March 4, 2016, in which Reginald Washington was added as a plaintiff and Rockaway House LLC, Three-Quarter House was removed as a defendant. (ECF No. 9, Amended Complaint.) Because Washington had failed to sign the Amended Complaint filed on March 4, 2016, plaintiffs refiled the Amended Complaint on March 30, 2016 with the necessary signatures. The court granted Jones's motion to proceed in forma pauperis on March 21, 2016, and Washington's motion to proceed in forma pauperis on March 31, 2016.

         B. Factual Background

         On January 15, 2015, plaintiff Jones was paroled from state custody and obtained housing in Brooklyn, New York at the Rockaway House LLC, which manages residences known as three-quarter houses. (ECF No. 12, Am. Compl. ¶ 15.) The temporary shelter was located at 367 Howard Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11233. (Id. ¶ 16.) On January 17, 2015, Jones sought “more suitable” housing with Rockaway House LLC, at 949 Hendrix Street, Brooklyn, N.Y., 11207. Jones was required to participate in a daily outpatient substance abuse and mental health treatment program. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.) During his time at Rockaway House LLC, he suffered injuries on his hands, feet, neck, back, and face due to continued exposure to bed bugs, toxic black mold, sewage flooding in the basement, and exposed high-voltage electrical wires. (Id. ¶¶ 44-45.) The Human Resources Administration Department of Social Services paid for his housing. (Id. ¶ 30.)

         On March 12, 2015, Jones was arrested by the New York Police Department for an alleged burglary. (Id. ¶¶ 31-34.) Because Jones was unable to post bail while in custody, he was evicted from Rockaway House on May 21, 2015, for failure to pay rent and attend his abuse treatment session. (Id. ¶¶ 35-36.) During his eviction, he lost an Apple laptop computer, a shearling jacket, three cell phones, a JVC camcorder, a Nikon camera, other clothing, boots, shirts, pants, and legal papers because they were not stored properly when he was evicted. (Id. ¶ 39.)

         Jones and Washington also allege that they were denied the ability to lease low income public access housing that they were entitled to, because of discrimination based on their race, color, and economic status. (Id. ¶¶ 49-52.) Plaintiffs assert that Bill DeBlasio, Jason Turner, Jo-Ann B. Barhart, Alphonso Jackson, Vicki Been, the John Doe Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, Maritza Silva Farrell, Gary Rodney, Rick Davis and Anthorney Doe refused to provide housing to plaintiffs on the grounds of their race. (Id. ¶¶ 6-9, 116-173.) Plaintiffs assert that defendants acquiesced in a policy and custom of refusing to lease properties to individuals based on their race and color. Id.

         Jones also separately alleges a § 1983 claim against Rick Davis and Anthorney Doe based on the conditions of, and his eviction from, Rockaway House LLC. Additionally, Jones asserts violations of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq., Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, 42 U.S.C. §§ 11301, et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 701. He also alleges state law claims, including wrongful eviction. Plaintiffs seeks punitive and compensatory damages, and immediate housing.


         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a district court shall sua sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis action at any time if the court determines that the action “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a district court “shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity” and dismiss any portion of the complaint that “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be grated.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         In reviewing the complaint, the court must construe the pleadings of pro se plaintiffs liberally. See Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant # 1, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008). The court is particularly mindful of this when the pleadings allege civil rights violations. McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004). Pro se complainants “need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007)). However, pro se plaintiffs must still allege sufficient facts to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff ...

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