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White v. Demarco

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 6, 2018

ALVIN WHITE et al., Plaintiffs,
WILLIAM DEMARCO et al., Defendants.


          Ellen Lipton Hollander United States District Judge.

         Self-represented plaintiffs Alvin White and Rachel White, who are married, have sued Arbor Corporation, Diane Grant, William DeMarco, and “B. Stewart, ”[1] alleging, inter alia, housing discrimination based on race, and a variety of State-law claims related to an apartment plaintiffs rented for a number of months. ECF 1 (Complaint); ECF 7 (Amended Complaint). Plaintiffs assert that in 2016 and 2017, defendants, who managed the apartments at the Villa of White Hall in Elkton, Maryland, mistreated plaintiffs and provided services to them that were inferior to those offered to White tenants. ECF 1 at 10-14. In March 2017, plaintiffs moved to another residence. Id. at 7.

         Plaintiffs have alleged jurisdiction on the basis of a federal question, under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, asserting violations of their constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments. ECF 1 at 4; ECF 7 at 8. They seek compensatory and punitive damages (ECF 1 at 7), asserting, inter alia, that they were placed in an apartment that was not habitable. Id.; see also ECF 7 at 12.

         Defendants have moved to dismiss the Complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, “for lack of jurisdiction and deficient pleading, ” and under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. ECF 10. The motion is supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 10-1 (collectively, “Motion”). Plaintiffs oppose the Motion (ECF 14, “Opposition”), and have submitted several exhibits chronicling their interactions with defendants. ECF 14-1. Notably, defendants did not reply.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall dismiss the constitutional claims, and I shall decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the State-law claims.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background[2]


         At the time the Complaint was filed, plaintiffs were 87 and 76 years old. ECF 1 at 13.[3]Plaintiffs state that on Friday, June 10, 2016, they moved into an apartment in “the Villas of White Hall, ” a low income housing development for seniors. ECF 7 at 2, 6. The property, at 507 Skipjack Ct., Elkton, Maryland, was managed by defendants. Id. at 6. According to plaintiffs, they were scheduled to move in on June 11, 2016, but were told by defendant Grant, “‘No moving in on Saturdays.'” Id. When they arrived, “the apartment . . . was in deplorable condition.” ECF 1 at 6. According to plaintiffs, the rug was soaking wet and smelled of “lavender fragrance” and “cat urine.” Id. There was mold in the bathtub and on the bathroom floor, and the vents, shelves, and toilet were “covered with brown substance.” Id. Plaintiffs also allege the presence of rug mites or dirt mites, and assert that they caught the exterminator and Grant “plant[ing] a bed bug” on the furniture. Id. Despite numerous attempts to have the apartment cleaned and the rug replaced, plaintiffs allege that the rug remained in the apartment until February 7, 2017, and the tub and floor continued to have traces of mold. Id. at 11, 13.

         According to plaintiffs, as a result of the unsanitary condition of the apartment, plaintiffs suffered from pneumonia (ECF 1 at 12) and a “congestive heart attack due to breathing problems.” ECF 7 at 6. Ms. White also complained of other heart problems, asserting that “when exposed to strong odors it would make [her] heart beat faster.” ECF 1 at 12. Mr. White allegedly had trouble walking on the carpet, “due to [its] bulkiness.” Id.

         Plaintiffs also contend that they were discriminated against on the basis of their race. According to the Complaint, “3 Whites [were] given immaculate apartments. [Plaintiffs] as Blacks [were] given the opposite.” ECF 1 at 11. Plaintiffs also allege that the rules of the property were different for Black and White tenants, and that White tenants were allowed to move in on Saturdays and smoke on the property, while Black tenants had to leave the grounds to smoke. Id.; see also ECF 7 at 10-11.

         Plaintiffs aver that they contacted Veterans Affairs, the “Health Department, ” the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and “Section 8, ” seeking assistance. ECF 1 at 13. However, plaintiffs state that because they were “not on any government program, [the agencies] could not help [plaintiffs].” Id.

         It appears that plaintiffs did come in contact with an attorney through the “Office on Aging, ” and they filed “for Escrow” in State court regarding the carpet, which was “Denied.” See Id. But, in February 2017, defendants agreed to replace the carpet. Id.

         Plaintiffs moved out of the apartment on March 11, 2017. Id. at 14. This suit followed.


         Plaintiffs' handwritten Complaint was filed on June 14, 2017. It alleges the basic facts of plaintiffs' claims against William DeMarco, the “Compliance Manager” for the property; Diane Grant, the Property Manager; and an unnamed Regional Supervisor. ECF 1 at 2-3, 10. The same day, plaintiffs filed a motion to appoint counsel (ECF 3), which was denied. ECF 4.

         On July 11, 2017, plaintiffs filed an “addendum” to their Complaint (ECF 5), which the Court construed as a request to add a defendant. ECF 6 at 2. The Court granted plaintiffs 21 days to amend their Complaint. Id. Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, adding “Arbor Corporation” and “Mr. B. Stewart” (the formerly unnamed Regional Supervisor) as defendants. ECF 7 at 1, 4. The Amended Complaint includes allegations that overlap with the initial Complaint, but it is organized in a different way and omits certain ...

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