United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
W. GRIMM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Housing Authority of Prince George's County, Maryland
(“Housing Authority”) terminated Plaintiff Ronald
Hayward's rental assistance under the Housing Choice
Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8) after the
District Court for Prince George's County evicted him
from a subsidized apartment for violating the terms of his
lease. Compl. 3, 5, ECF No. 1. Hayward filed a
Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Eric C. Brown, Executive Director of the Housing Authority,
and six of his colleagues for terminating his voucher in
violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights as
well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development
(“HUD”) regulations governing the program.
Id. at 3.
have filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion
for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 14, and the parties have fully
briefed the motion, ECF Nos. 14-1, 18, 21, 22. A hearing is
unnecessary in this case. Loc. R. 105.6. A genuine dispute of
a material fact exists as to whether the Housing Authority
terminated Hayward's voucher prior to an informal hearing
held on April 23, 2014 and continued to June 27, 2014. But
there is no genuine dispute that the hearing-if it occurred
prior to the termination of benefits-comported with due
process requirements. Accordingly, I will treat the
Defendants' Motion as a motion for summary judgment and
grant it in part and deny it in part. Additionally, I will
deny without prejudice Hayward's request for preliminary
injunctive relief. See Compl. 25.
enacted the Housing Choice Voucher Program “[f]or the
purpose of aiding lower-income families in obtaining a decent
place to live and of promoting economically mixed
housing.” 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(a). Under this
federally-funded and locally-administered program,
individuals may obtain vouchers that cover the extent to
which their rent and utility costs exceed a fixed percentage
of their monthly income. Id. §
1437f(o)(2)(A)-(B). Local housing authorities pay landlords
directly for rental costs and either pay utility companies
directly or provide funds to the tenants to cover the utility
bills, which the tenants are then responsible for paying.
See 24 C.F.R. § 982.514. The Housing Authority
of Prince George's County provides voucher recipients
with monthly utility-assistance checks. When Can I Expect
to Receive My Utility Assistance Check Each Month,
Prince George's County, Md.,
(last visited Sept. 14, 2016).
qualified for a voucher in 2011 and used it to obtain a lease
at the Ashton Heights Apartments in Suitland, Maryland.
Compl. 5. Hayward's lease and Housing Assistance Payment
Contract made the Housing Authority responsible for paying
the entire $1, 090.00 monthly rental cost to the landlord
directly and assigned Hayward responsibility for paying
electricity, natural gas, water, and sewer bills. Apartment
Lease Contract ¶¶ 6-7, Defs.' Mem. Ex. 1B., ECF
No. 14-4; Housing Assistance Payments Contract ¶¶
7-8, Defs.' Mem. Ex. 1B. To cover those utility costs,
Hayward received monthly checks from the Housing Authority.
See HAP Detail Register 2, Defs.' Mem. Ex. 1D,
ECF No. 14-6.
December 11, 2013, Ashton Heights filed a Complaint in the
District Court for Prince George's County seeking
possession of Hayward's unit and judgment for unpaid
rent, utility payments, and late fees. Ashton Heights Compl.,
Pl.'s Supp. Ex. 3, ECF No. 6-3. Though the complaint
sought both rental and utility costs, Defendants admit that
Hayward had no obligation to pay rent due to his voucher.
Defs.' Reply 2, ECF No. 22 (“[The Housing
Authority] does not disagree that [Hayward's] share of
the actual monthly rent due was zero for some of the
time.”); Informal Hr'g R. 13 (Ashton Heights
Resident Statement showing payments of $1, 090.00 on December
12, 2013 and credits of $988.00 and $102.00 totaling $1090.00
on January 5 and 6, 2014, respectively). The Defendants do
maintain, however, that Hayward was responsible for but
failed to make utility payments using his utility allowance.
Id. Hayward does not dispute this fact. See
Informal Hr'g R. 4, Defs.' Mem. Ex. 1A, ECF No. 14-3
(“[The Housing Authority] testified that [Hayward]
received a utility allowance. [Hayward] testified that the
check was his to keep. [Hayward's] account showed no
record of payment or credit for utility
charges.”). The total amount of utility costs at issue
in Ashton Height's Complaint was $161.00 plus $62.55 in
late fees, though it is unclear whether Ashton Heights
assessed the late fees for the unpaid utilities or for the
rent it claimed and for which Hayward was not apparently
responsible. See Ashton Heights Compl.
state court set a trial date for January 14, 2014.
Id. On January 23, Judge Thomas J. Love entered a
judgment in favor of Ashton Heights and ordered Hayward's
eviction. Order, Pl.'s Supp. Ex. 4, ECF No. 6-5. On
February 4, the Prince George's County Deputy Sheriff
executed the eviction. Compl. 5.
prior to February 6, 2014-it is unclear when-the Housing
Authority notified Hayward that it would terminate his rental
assistance on February 28 based upon the state court
eviction. See Defs.' Reply 8. On February 6, the
Housing Authority received a request from Hayward for a
hearing regarding the termination of his voucher. Hayward
Ltr., Compl. Ex. 5, ECF No. 1-5. The Authority issued a
second notice of termination on February 11, reiterating that
rental assistance would cease on February 28. Notice of
Termination, Compl. Ex. 6, ECF No. 1-6. It is unclear if
Hayward's rental assistance in fact ceased on February
28, 2014. The Authority scheduled an informal hearing for
April 23, 2014, which Hayward attended. Informal Hr'g R.
3-4, 8. Because Hayward indicated that he was trying to
appeal the underlying eviction in state court, Hearing
Officer Josephine B. Clay ordered the hearing continued, and
a subsequent hearing occurred on June 24, 2014. Id.
Officer Clay held that Hayward committed a serious lease
violation prohibited by 24 C.F.R. § 982.551(e) by
“keeping the utility allowance checks and not paying
the utilities.” Informal Hr'g R. 3. She further
found that the District Court for Prince George's County
had issued a warrant of restitution evicting Hayward for the
same underlying conduct, id., and that HUD
regulations require the termination of “program
assistance for a family evicted from housing assisted under
the program for serious violation of the lease, ”
id. (quoting 24 C.F.R. § 982.552(b)(2)).
than one year later, Hayward initiated this suit without
representation. His Complaint seeks injunctive relief from
Director Brown in the form of reissuance of his voucher and
damages from the remaining Defendants for the alleged
violations of his federal rights. Compl. 25. Both sides
characterize the injunctive relief sought as a request for a
preliminary injunction. See Defs.' Mem. 8-10;
Defs.' Reply 9; Pl.'s Surreply 5, ECF. No. 21. I
appointed pro bono counsel after the Defendants filed their
Motion. ECF No. 17. Hayward filed an Opposition shortly
thereafter and before his attorney had an opportunity review
all of the case filings. See Pl.'s Opp'n,
ECF No. 18. Accordingly, the parties agreed to a consent
motion, ECF No. 19, to provide Plaintiff's counsel
additional time to investigate the matter and file a
Surreply, which I approved, ECF No. 20. Hayward then filed
his Surreply, ECF No. 21, followed by Defendants' Reply,
ECF No. 22.
Motion is now ripe for disposition.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for “the
dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.” Velencia v.
Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D. Md.
Dec. 13, 2012). When a defendant attaches documents to a
motion to dismiss that are not “integral to the
complaint” or where the documents' authenticity is
disputed, the Court must treat the motion as one for summary
judgment to consider the documents. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(d); CACI Int'l v. St. Paul Fire & Marine
Ins. Co., 566 F.3d 150, 154 (4th Cir. 2009);
Syncrude Canada Ltd. v. Highland Consulting Grp.,
Inc., No. RDB-12-318, 2013 WL 139194, at *2 (D. Md. Jan.
10, 2013). When a court does so, “[a]ll parties must be
given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material
that is pertinent to the motion.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d).
Notably, “the Federal Rules do not prescribe that any
particular notice be given before a Rule 12 motion is
converted to a Rule 56 motion.” Ridgell v.
Astrue, DKC-10-3280, 2012 WL 707008, at *7 (D. Md. Mar.
2, 2012). Thus, this requirement “can be satisfied when
a party is ‘aware that material outside the pleadings
is before the court.'” Walker v. Univ. of Md.
Med. Sys. Corp., No. CCB-12-3151, 2013 WL 2370442, at *3
(D. Md. May 30, 2013) (quoting Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d
175, 177 (4th Cir. 1985)). Indeed, while the Court
“clearly has an obligation to notify parties regarding
any court-instituted changes in the pending proceedings, [it]
does not have an obligation to notify parties of the
obvious.” Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports
Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998). It is ...