United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. HALL, Plaintiff,
GREYSTAR MANAGEMENT SERVICES, L.P., et al., Defendants.
JAMES K. BREDAR, District Judge.
L. Hall ("Plaintiff") brought this suit against Greystar Management Services, L.P. ("GMS"), PSN Landscaping Co., Inc. ("PSN"), and Lieutenant Richard Kelly (collectively with GMS and PSN "Defendants") for retaliation in violation of the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq., conversion, violation of Article 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, and violation of Title 20 of the State Government Article of the Maryland Code. Now pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to alter/amend judgment and for leave to file an amended complaint. (ECF No. 45.) The issues have been briefed (ECF Nos. 45, 49, 51, 52, 53), and no hearing is required, Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons explained below, Plaintiff's motion to alter/amend judgment is DENIED.
The facts here are largely unchanged as recounted in ECF No. 43. In summary, Plaintiff has been diagnosed with "post-polio syndrome together with specific and related comorbidities including syncope and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which substantially limit several major life activities." (ECF No. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 8-9.) Plaintiff lived in an apartment owned by GMS until April 2011, when GMS declined to renew Plaintiff's year-to-year lease. In response, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") alleging that GMS failed to renew Plaintiff's lease because of her disability. GMS then prosecuted a successful tenant holding over action and obtained a proper warrant of restitution (i.e., an eviction order) against Plaintiff.
On December 1, 2011, all Defendants were collectively involved with evicting Plaintiff from her apartment. In the process, Defendants removed all of Plaintiff's personal property from the apartment and brought it to landfills. Defendants also removed "all of [Plaintiff's] property, including her purse and computers which was situated in and about her vehicle outside the Premises." ( Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff's purse and computers were returned to her moments later. ( Id. )
Plaintiff filed the present action on November 27, 2013, alleging (1) retaliation in violation of the FHA against GMS; (2) conversion against all Defendants; (3) violation of Article 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights against Lieutenant Kelly; and (4) violation of Title 20 of the State Government Article of the Maryland Code against GMS. ( Id. ¶¶ 29-52.) In July 2014, the Court granted Defendants' motions to dismiss all claims, holding that Plaintiff held no legal interest in the removed property because it was deemed "abandoned" the moment Defendants properly executed the warrant of restitution. (ECF No. 44.)
Plaintiff now asks the Court to vacate its judgment, and to grant leave for Plaintiff to file an amended complaint. (ECF No. 45.) In her proposed amended complaint ("the new complaint"), Plaintiff adds new details about her eviction, particularly that Defendants removed certain personal property from in and around Plaintiff's vehicle. She alleges that Defendants removed and then almost immediately returned Plaintiff's bag containing her purse, passport, and computers. (ECF No. 45-2 at 8.) She also alleges that Defendants removed and ultimately destroyed her file boxes. ( Id. )
II. LEGAL STANDARD
After a final judgment has previously been rendered, a court must first vacate judgment to allow amended pleadings. Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 427 (4th Cir. 2009).
Rule 59(e) allows a party 28 days from the entry of an adverse judgment to move that the judgment be altered or amended. In its discretion, a district court may grant such a motion under three circumstances: "(1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Ingle ex rel. Estate of Ingle v. Yelton, 439 F.3d 191, 197 (4th Cir. 2006).
"[A] post-judgment motion to amend is evaluated under the same legal standard- grounded on Rule 15(a)-as a similar motion filed before judgment was entered." Matrix Capital Mgmt. Fund v. BearingPoint, 576 F.3d 172, 193 (4th Cir. 2009). Under Rule 15(a)(2), leave to file an amended or supplemental pleading should be "freely give[n] where justice so requires." A district court may deny leave, however, if: (1) the new pleading would prejudice the opposing party; (2) the moving party has acted in bad faith; or (3) the new pleading would be futile (i.e., if it could not withstand a motion to dismiss). Perkins v. U.S., 55 F.3d 910, 917 (4th Cir. 1995); Laber, 438 F.3d at 426. Like pleadings that fail to survive a motion to dismiss, a futile amendment fails to contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'... Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).
Plaintiff's new complaint is futile on all counts, and thus her motion to ...