United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.
Vesta Romaine West (“plaintiff” or
“West”) has filed a pro se Complaint
alleging that defendant Southern Management Corp.
(“SMC”) and its agents David Hillman, Judson
Kerr, and Carrie Doe (collectively, “defendants”)
unlawfully discriminated and conspired against her by
refusing to receive her application to lease an apartment at
a property managed by defendants. (ECF No. 1.)
motions are now pending before this Court: (1)
plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Plaintiff's Motion”) (ECF No. 12); and (2)
defendants' Motion to Dismiss (“Defendants'
Motion”) (ECF No. 15). The parties' submissions
have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below,
Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED, Defendants' Motion is
GRANTED, and this case is DISMISSED.
February of 2016, plaintiff contacted SMC to inquire about
leasing an apartment at SMC's “39 West
Lexington” property in Baltimore, Maryland. (ECF No. 1
at 2.) SMC initially notified plaintiff that because she
previously vacated her lease at 39 West Lexington with a
balance owed to SMC, she would not be able to return as a
tenant. (Id.) SMC later confirmed this message in a
letter dated February 26, 2016. (ECF No. 1-2 at 3.) In its
letter, SMC explained that because “on each of the
three prior occasions you lived in a [SMC] apartment, you
vacated the leased premises leaving a debt due and owing,
which [SMC] had to pursue in collections, ” SMC
“is not willing to receive your application to become a
leaseholder at any of its apartment communities.”
than one month after receiving SMC's letter, plaintiff
filed her Complaint in this Court. (ECF No. 1.) In her
Complaint, plaintiff alleges that SMC unlawfully
discriminated against her based on her “known mental
illness.” (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff does not
identify her “known mental illness” anywhere in
her Complaint. In addition, plaintiff alleges that defendants
“have entered into a civil conspiracy” against
her by altering their leasing policies so as to prevent
plaintiff from obtaining a fourth leasehold from SMC.
Motion for Summary Judgment Pursuant to Rule 56
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court
“shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A material fact is one that “might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law.” Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718
F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Thus,
summary judgment is proper “only when no
‘reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.'” Monon Corp. v. Stoughton
Trailers, Inc., 239 F.3d 1253, 1257 (Fed. Cir. 2001)
(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255)). When
considering a motion for summary judgment, a judge's
function is limited to determining whether sufficient
evidence exists on a claimed factual dispute to warrant
submission of the matter to a jury for resolution at trial.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.
undertaking this inquiry, this Court must consider the facts
and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party. Libertarian Party of Va., 718
F.3d at 312; see also Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
378 (2007). However, this Court must also abide by its
affirmative obligation to prevent factually unsupported
claims and defenses from going to trial. Drewitt v.
Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993). If the
evidence presented by the nonmoving party is merely
colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment must be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at
249-50. On the other hand, a party opposing summary judgment
must “do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); see also In re Apex Express
Corp., 190 F.3d 624, 633 (4th Cir. 1999). As this Court
has previously explained, a “party cannot create a
genuine dispute of material fact through mere speculation or
compilation of inferences.” Shin v. Shalala,
166 F.Supp.2d 373, 375 (D. Md. 2001) (citations omitted).
Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes
the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The
purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is “to test the sufficiency of
a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the
facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses.” Presley v. City of Charlottesville,
464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006); see also Goines v.
Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir.
2016). The sufficiency of a complaint is assessed by
reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), which
provides that a complaint must contain a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.,
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). Under the
plausibility standard, a complaint must contain “more
than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see Painter's Mill
Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2013).
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court “‘must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint'” and must “‘draw all
reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the
plaintiff.'” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted); see Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs.,
Inc., 791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015). While a court
must accept as true all the factual allegations contained in
the complaint, legal conclusions drawn from those facts are
not afforded such deference. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a ...