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Malicoat v. Concepts in Community Living, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 12, 2018

ALICE MALICOAT, Plaintiff,
v.
CONCEPTS IN COMMUNITY LIVING, INC., a domestic business corporation doing business as The Taft Home; KAREN SHENEFELT, an individual, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          STACIE F. BECKERMAN, United States Magistrate Judge

         Alice Malicoat (“Plaintiff”) brings this action against Concepts in Community Living, Inc. (“CCL”), doing business as The Taft Home (“Taft”), and Karen Shenefelt (“Shenefelt”) (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging claims for breach of contract and housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19, and its Oregon state law equivalent, Or. Rev. Stat. § 659A.145. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Shenefelt for breach of contract and violation of the Oregon Fair Housing Act (“OFHA”), pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); to make Plaintiff's housing discrimination claims more definite and certain, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e); and to strike portions of Plaintiff's complaint, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's breach of contract claim against Shenefelt, denies Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's OFHA claim against Shenefelt, denies Defendants' motion to make more definite and certain, and denies Defendants' motion to strike.

         BACKGROUND

         Taft is an Oregon-based residential care facility. (Compl. ¶¶ 1.3, 2.2.) Shenefelt is a licensed clinical social worker and serves as Taft's director. (Compl. ¶ 2.3.) Plaintiff is a ninety-six-year-old woman who is “visually impaired and uses a wheelchair for mobility.” (Compl. ¶ 3.1.) Since June of 2013, Plaintiff has “resided continuously” at Taft. (Compl. ¶ 3.2.) Plaintiff also has a son who resides at Taft and another son who lives nearby and visits often. (Compl. ¶ 3.4.)

         At all material times, Plaintiff's relationship with Taft was governed by a Rental and Service Agreement (hereinafter, the “Agreement”). (Compl. ¶ 3.7.) The Agreement provides, inter alia, that “Taft may terminate a resident's tenancy and issue a notice of involuntary move out requiring the resident to leave the [facility] within [thirty] days if . . . the resident ‘requires two or more persons to provide transfer assistance.'” (Compl. ¶ 3.7.) The Agreement also states that, if the resident objects to the notice, she will “be given the opportunity [to participate in] an informal conference . . . to determine if a satisfactory resolution can be reached.'” (Compl. ¶ 3.8.)

         In June 2017, Plaintiff fell while “attempting to transfer from the commode.” (Compl. ¶ 3.9.) In July 2017, Plaintiff began to experience “hand contracture, which made transferring from [her] bed to [her] wheelchair[, ] or [her] commode to [her] wheelchair[, ] more difficult.” (Compl. ¶ 3.9.)

         On October 4, 2017, Taft provided Plaintiff with a notice of involuntary move out, which stated that Plaintiff “required the assistance of two people to transfer to her wheelchair” and thus “exceeded the level of services provided by the facility.” (Compl. ¶ 3.10.) Taft's notice of involuntary move out also stated that Plaintiff had thirty days to leave the facility. (Compl. ¶ 3.10.)

         Plaintiff alleges that, at the time the notice was issued, she “weighed approximately ninety-six pounds and was able to transfer with the assistance of one person.” (Compl. ¶ 3.12.) Plaintiff also alleges that she was still able to transfer independently when “supported by bars or another rigid surface.” (Compl. ¶ 3.12.) As a result, on October 10, 2017, Plaintiff requested a hearing and an informal conference in order to resolve the issues of whether Taft could “require her to move out” or whether a satisfactory resolution could be achieved (i.e., by providing Plaintiff with “an appropriate bed” that has a firmer mattress, lift mechanism, and/or rigid side bar, which would ensure that she could transfer without the assistance of two people). (Compl. ¶¶ 3.13, 3.15.)

         On October 18, 2017, Shenefelt denied Plaintiff's request for an informal conference. (Compl. ¶ 3.14.) The next day, Plaintiff “fell while attempting to transfer” and Shenefelt subsequently denied Plaintiff's request for an accommodation. (Compl. ¶¶ 3.16-.17.) Negotiations continued and Taft ultimately withdrew its notice of move out on November 6, 2017, after being provided with documentation from Plaintiff's “health provider stating that [she] did not require the assistance of two people to transfer, ” and that her “requested accommodations were related to her disability and necessary for her to have full access to her housing.” (Compl. ¶¶ 3.18-.21.) Taft, however, continues to deny Plaintiff's request for accommodation, because Taft determined that Plaintiff's request “would create a risk of harm to Plaintiff.” (Compl. ¶¶ 3.21-.23.)

         ANALYSIS

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         The Ninth Circuit has “held that dismissal for failure to state a claim is ‘proper only where there is no cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a cognizable legal theory.'” Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Servs., Inc., 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001)). In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint's factual allegations, district courts must “accept as true all well-pleaded allegations of material fact, and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). District courts “are not, however, required to accept as true allegations that contradict exhibits attached to the complaint or matters properly subject to judicial notice, or allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” Id. Nor are district courts required to accept as true allegations that simply recite the elements of a cause of action. Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). Ultimately, surviving a motion to dismiss required that the complaint “contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively, ” and “the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation.” Id.

         B. Motion for a More Definite Statement

         “A party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). “Motions for [a more] definite statement are disfavored and are ‘proper only where the complaint is so indefinite that the defendant cannot ascertain the nature of the claim being asserted.'” Ramos v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, No. 08-cv-1150-PK, 2009 WL 1475023, at *7 (D. Or. May 20, 2009) (citation omitted). “A motion for a more definite statement must be considered in light of the liberal pleading standards of Rule 8(a).” Velasquez v. HSBC Fin. Corp., No. 08-4592, 2009 WL 112919, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 16, 2009). “Where ...


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