United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Abigail Rodney, appearing pro se, filed this action
alleging housing discrimination based on her race and her
daughter's disability against defendant Yale Realty LLC.
The Court grants plaintiff's request to proceed in
forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 for the
purpose of this Order. The claims alleged on behalf of
plaintiff's daughter Annaliese Austin are dismissed
without prejudice as set forth below.
following is taken from plaintiff's complaint and is
assumed to be true for the purpose of this Order. Plaintiff
alleges that on September 22, 2016, she sublet an apartment
at 2440 East 29th Street, Brooklyn, New York from the primary
tenant John Middleton. Plaintiff alleges that she notified
defendant Yale Realty LLC and that defendant agreed to let
her sublet the apartment. At some point, the primary tenant
was arrested for assaulting plaintiff and did not return to
alleges that once defendant learned that she was African
American, defendant failed to make repairs in the apartment,
accept her rent payments, issue her a renewal lease, and has
commenced eviction proceedings. Plaintiff also alleges that
her daughter is severely disabled and that defendant learned
of her daughter's disability when a social worker
contacted defendant regarding repairs needed in the
apartment. Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive relief.
complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, ” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), and
“allow the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). Although all allegations contained in the complaint
are assumed to be true, this tenet is “inapplicable to
legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
“[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully
pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted); see also Harris v. Mills,
572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009). Thus, pro se
complaints are “to be liberally construed, ”
Ahlers v. Rabinowitz, 684 F.3d 53, 60 (2d Cir.
2012), and interpreted “to raise the strongest
arguments that they suggest, ” Graham v.
Henderson, 89 F.3d 75, 79 (2d Cir. 1996). Furthermore,
pursuant to the in forma pauperis statute, the Court
must dismiss an action if it determines that it “(i) is
frivolous or malicious, (ii) fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or (iii) seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
federal law affords parties a statutory right to “plead
and conduct their own cases, ” 28 U.S.C. §1654,
that statute does not permit “unlicensed laymen to
represent anyone else other than themselves.”
Lattanzio v. COMTA, 481 F.3d 137, 139 (2d Cir. 2007)
(internal quotation marks omitted); Guest v. Hansen,
603 F.3d 15, 20 (2d Cir. 2010) (“A person who has not
been admitted to the practice of law may not represent
anybody other than himself.”). Generally, non-lawyer
parents do not have the right to represent their children in
federal court. Cheung v. Youth Orchestra Found. of
Buffalo, Inc., 906 F.2d 59, 61 (2d Cir. 1990) (“a
non-attorney parent must be represented by counsel in
bringing an action on behalf of his or her child.”);
Iannaccone v. Law, 142 F.3d 553, 558 (2d Cir. 1998)
(“[B]ecause pro se means to appear for
one's self, a lay person may not represent a corporation
or a partnership or appear on behalf of his or her own
extent plaintiff Abigail Rodney brings this action on behalf
of her child, Annaliese Austin, she cannot do so. Therefore,
any claims related to Annaliese Austin are dismissed without
prejudice. If plaintiff would like to bring claims for her
daughter, plaintiff must obtain counsel to represent her
plaintiff has a right to proceed pro se as to her
own claims, and the Court liberally construes her claims to
arise under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42
U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. The FHA forbids
discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color,
religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and
disability status. See 42 U.S.C. § 3604.
Further, the provisions of the FHA apply to private
landlords. Rappo v. 94-11 59th Ave Corp., No.
11-CV-4371, 2011 WL 5873025, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 21, 2011).
the claims as to Annaliese Austin are dismissed without
prejudice with leave to re-file should plaintiff obtain
counsel to represent her daughter. However, the complaint
shall proceed as to plaintiff Abigail Rodney. The Clerk of
Court is directed to issue a summons and the United States
Marshal Service is directed to serve the summons, the
complaint, and this Order on the defendant without prepayment
of fees. The case is referred to the Honorable Lois Bloom,
United States Magistrate Judge, for pretrial supervision.
Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that
any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith,
and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for
purpose of an ...