United States District Court, D. Maryland
WILLIAM D. MORRIS, III, and TSION ABDETA, Plaintiffs,
LEON N. WEINER & ASSOCIATES, INC., Defendan..
THEODORED D. CHAUNG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
D. Morris, III and Tsion Abdeta have filed
this action against Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc.
("LNWA") alleging housing discriminaiion on the
basis of race, color, national origin, age, familial status,
and disability) They also allege state common law claims
of breach of contract and breach of the covenant of quiet
enjoyment. Pending before the Court is LNWAss Motion to
Dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is
in 2014, Morris, a 57-year-old African American man with a
disability, lived with his fiancee Abdeta, a 28-year-old
African American woman born in Ethiopia, at Spellman House
Apartmenss in College Park, Maryland. LNWA owns Spellman
House Apartments, which charges below-market rate rent
because the United States Department of Housing and Urban
Development ("HUD") has subsidized the mortgage on
the property or makes subsidy payments to LNWA. The
residential lease agreement between Plaintiffs and Spellman
House Apartments includes the following provisions:
General Restrictions:... The Tenant agrees not to:
d. have pets or animals of any kind in the unit without the
prior written permission of the Landlord, but the landlord
will allow the tenant to keep an animal needed as a
reasonable accommodaiion to the tenantss disability, and will
allow animals to accompany visitors with disabilities who
need such animals as an accommodaiion to their disabilities;
Discriminaiion Prohibited: The Landlord agrees not to
discriminate based upon race, color, religion, creed,
National origin, sex, age, familial status, and disability.
¶¶ 13, 21, PIs.' Opp'n
Mot. Dismiss Exs. 2C-2E, ECF Nos. 25-5, 25-6, 25-7.
their tenancy at Spellman House Apartments, Plaintiffs
objected to certain exchanges they had with property
management and staff. First, James Chandler, a maintenance
technician at Spellman House Apartments, "repeatedly
insult[ed]" Morris "in the presence of other
residents." Am. Compl. ¶ 39, ECF No. 18. On or
about April 15, 2015, Plaintiffs wrote to the regional
manager, Randy Emlet, who is white, to request that Chandler
be terminated. LNWA did not fire him. Plaintiffs assert that
the fact that they are African American "played a
role" in Emletss decision not to terminate Chandler.
Id. ¶ 41.
about January 15, 2016, when Abdeta was in an elevator with
Cecil, a maintenance contractor, Cecil asked her "So
when are you two getting married?" in an apparent
reference to Morris and Abdeta. Id.
¶¶ 43, 53. Morris informed Emlet
and the property manager, April Pritchett, of the incident,
but they did not fire Cecil. They likewise did not fire Cecil
after Morris informed them of another incident, in which
Cecil sprayed air freshener into Morrisss face, Morris
sneezed, and Cecil screamed at Morris, "What did you
say? What did you say?" in a "hostile, threatening
manner." Id. ¶ 61.
also describe two other unwelcome interactions with Spellman
House Apartmenss staff. First, beginning in March 2014, the
maintenance supervisor, Michael Faulkner, greeted them on at
least 50 occasions in common areas "by saying loudly
'Hey kids!'" Id. ¶ 42. According
to Plaintiffs, the "vast majority of tenants at Spellman
House Apartmenss are ' significantly
older than Plaintiffs, " and they have never heard
Faulkner address older residents with "Hey old
people!" or similar greetings. Id.
¶¶ 30, 47. Second, on or about
June 15, 2016 at approximately 9:00 a.m., Pritchett, when
visiting to conduct a routine inspection, "repeatedly
and forcefully banged on Plaintiffs' front door with her
fist" instead of using the door knocker, which
maintenance staff typically use when seeking entry to an
apartment. Id. ¶ 44.
these exchanges with property management and staff,
Plaintiffs allege that between March 2014 and December 2015 a
tenant on their floor "would not keep her dog on a leash
in the common areas as is required by the rules, "
leading to an incident on or about July 15, 2015 during which
the dog bit Morris. Id.
¶¶ 32-34. Although Plaintiffs
complained at least 10 times, in writing, to Emlet and the
property manager about the tenantss failure to keep her dog
on a leash, she was not evicted from her apartment.
August 2016, Plaintiffs learned that their own residency at
Spellman House Apartments would be terminated. Around August
19, Emlet and Pritchett informed them that based on an
incident in which one of them took money out of a wallet left
in a common area, their lease was being terminated and that
they would be evicted on August 23 if they did not agree
before that date to leave voluntarily by August 30. On August
24, 2016, Pritchett sent Plaintiffs a letter stating that
their lease would be terminated on September 25, 2066 for the
same reasons identified in the meeting. The letter detailed
the process by which Plaintiffs could object to the action
and stated that if Plaintiffs did not move out by September
25, legal proceedings would be initiated.
August 22, 2016, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit alleging age
discriminaiion, housing discriminaiion, violations of the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42
U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134 (2012),
violations of "Plaintiffs' civil rights, "
Compl. ¶ 63, ECF No., , and state
common law claims of breach of contract and of the covenant
of quiet enjoymen.. After Plaintiffs filed an Amended
Complaint, LNWA filed the pending Motion directed towards the
original Complain.. On November 7, 2016, the Court held a
Case Management Conference, during which it accepted the
Amended Complaint as the operative Complaint and directed
LNWA either to supplement its Motion in light of the Amended
Complaint or to state that it need not do so. On November 11,
2016, LNWA filed a notice stating that it would not
supplement its Motion and asking the Court to consider the
Motion as seeking dismissal of the Amended Complaint.
seeking dismissal of the Amended Complaint pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). LNWA argues that
Plaintiffs fail to state a claim for discriminaiion because
they do not sufficiently allege that they were treated
differently than other tenants. It also contends that the
facts asserted do not state a plausible claim for breach of
contract or breach of the covenant of ...