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George v. House of Hope Recovery

United States District Court, D. Oregon

February 8, 2017


          Moloy K. Good, Good Law Clinic, PLLC, Of Attorneys for Plaintiff Constance George.

          Kenneth S. Mitchell-Phillips, THE LAW OFFICES OF KEN MITCHELL-PHILLIPS, P.C., Of Attorneys for Defendants House of Hope Recovery and Patricia Barcroft.

          Kyle T. Abraham, BARRAN LIEBMAN LLP Of Attorneys for Defendant Bridges to Change, Inc.

          Ryan J. McLellan and Sean K. Conner, SMITH FREED EBERHARD P.C., Of Attorneys for Defendant Washington County Department of Housing Services.



         Plaintiff Constance George has sued House of Hope Recovery (“HOH”), Bridges to Change, Inc. (“Bridges to Change”), Washington County Department of Housing Services (the “County”), and Patricia Barcroft (“Barcroft”), collectively Defendants, alleging violations of: (1) the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.; (2) 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (“Section 1981”); (3) and 42 U.S.C. § 1982 (“Section 1982”). All Defendants have filed motions for summary judgment. At oral argument, Plaintiff conceded Bridges to Change's and the County's motions, as well as her Section 1982 claim against HOH. Accordingly, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of Bridges to Change and the County. Remaining before the Court is HOH and Barcroft's motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff's claims under the FHA and Section 1981. For the following reasons, HOH and Barcroft's motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         A party is entitled to 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(a). The moving party has the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Clicks Billiards Inc. v. Sixshooters Inc., 251 F.3d 1252, 1257 (9th Cir. 2001). Although “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for summary judgment, ” the “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position [is] insufficient . . . .” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 255 (1986). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation and quotation marks omitted).


         Plaintiff was a participant in Bridges to Change's “Homeless to Work” program. Through Bridges to Change, Plaintiff discovered HOH, a non-profit organization that operates a residential recovery house in Beaverton, OR. ECF 36-1 at 6:19-7:1. HOH offers a “Christ-centered Housing Opportunity” that aims “to support women while they become firmly grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as well as a strong recovery program, which includes recovery from drug/alcohol addiction.” ECF 36-2 at 2.

         On March 5, 2013, Plaintiff and Nancy Ferry, an employee of Bridges to Change, met with Defendant Barcroft, HOH's Executive Director, to determine whether Plaintiff qualified for housing at HOH. According to Plaintiff, who is an African-American Jehovah's Witness, Barcroft asked her, without any context, “how [Plaintiff] felt about white people.” ECF 36-1 at 11:11-12. Plaintiff states that she responded that she “love[s] all people.” ECF 36-1 at 11:9-14. Although HOH offered religious meetings, Barcroft did not tell Plaintiff that HOH requires attendance at religious meetings.[1] ECF 36-1 at 14:4-11. At the conclusion of the interview, Barcroft decided that Plaintiff could move into HOH. ECF 36-1 at 13:21-23. HOH and Barcroft dispute aspects of Plaintiff's account of the initial interview, but have not filed any admissible evidence to support their version of the facts.[2]

         Plaintiff arrived at HOH on March 10, 2013. ECF 36-1 at 12:10-11. On March 19, 2013, Plaintiff says she informed Barcroft that she was a Jehovah's Witness and separately asked to be excused from the meeting that evening because she was ill. ECF 36-1 at 14:17-19, 16:6-7. Plaintiff states that she was told that she had to attend the meeting, ECF 36-1 at 14:19-20, even though HOH's “Cold & Flu Protocol” advises residents to stay in their rooms when feeling ill. ECF 36-2 at 13. Plaintiff states that before she became ill, her intention had been to attend the meeting. ECF 36-1 at 21:15-18. According to Plaintiff, “[t]hat same evening a white woman asked, that was a resident of the house, asked to be excused due to illness. She was told to stay home and get well. But I was told that I had to attend the meeting.” ECF 36-1 at 15:9-12. Plaintiff states that Barcroft terminated Plaintiff's residency at HOH that same day. ECF 36-1 at 22:11-17.

         Plaintiff filed a complaint with BOLI on November 25, 2013. ECF 29-1 at 57. BOLI determined that “[t]here is no substantial evidence that [Plaintiff] was subjected to unlawful discrimination based on race or that [Plaintiff] was unlawfully denied housing based ...

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