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Pogue v. HACSA

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

April 2, 2018

HACSA, Defendant.



         Plaintiff Bernice Pogue filed this action on October 30, 2017. She also filed an application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. I found that plaintiff met the standard to proceed without paying costs, but I dismissed the complaint because it was too vague to support the inference that defendant Housing and Community Service Agency of Lane County ("HACSA") violated plaintiffs rights under federal law. On January 3, 2018, plaintiff filed a first amended complaint. That complaint made clear that plaintiff was alleging that defendant discriminated against on the basis of her disability, which is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD"). I dismissed the first amended complaint because plaintiff had not adequately explained how HACSA discriminated against her because of her PTSD.

         Plaintiff has now filed a second amended complaint. I have reviewed that complaint in detail and drawn all reasonable inferences from the complaint and other filings in plaintiffs favor. I conclude that this action must be dismissed with prejudice.


         Because plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, I am required to dismiss this action if I determine that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). In federal court, 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). That pleading standard "does not require 'detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To state a claim for relief, the plaintiff must plead "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.


         In the order dismissing plaintiffs first amended complaint, I directed plaintiff to

state what HACSA employees did (or failed to do) with respect to (1) the incident with her landlord and the requirement that she relocate and (2) the termination of her voucher due to the electricity being shut off. If there are examples of HACSA employees harassing her, lying to her, threatening her, or violating its own procedures, she should provide those examples. She should focus on facts that support her allegation that HACSA discriminated against her because of her PTSD. There is no need to attach additional documents to the amended complaint; plaintiff can simply describe, in her own words, what happened.

Pogue v. HACSA, 2018 WL 614961, *2 (D. Or. Jan. 25, 2018).

         It is clear that plaintiff took those instructions to heart. Her second amended complaint clearly and plainly sets out facts in support of her claim, and even separates those facts into sections addressing the landlord/relocation and electrical shutoff issues. Nevertheless, I am bound to dismiss plaintiffs complaint because those facts do not support the conclusion that HACSA discriminated her on the basis of her disability.

         I. Reasonable Accommodations

         Plaintiff alleges that HACSA violated her rights under the Fair Housing Amendments Act ("FHAA"). The FHAA makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of disability "in the sale or rental, or to otherwise make unavailable or deny, . . a dwelling to any buyer or renter" because of disability. 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1). The law requires providers of housing, including low-income housing agencies like HACSA, to make "reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling[.]" Id. § 3604(f)(3)(b). The main reason plaintiff has not stated a claim for a violation of federal law is that four of the five accommodations she suggests HACSA should have provided are not the sort of reasonable accommodations required by the FHAA. The fifth suggested accommodation, an exception to HACSA's requirement that a subsidized unit be used as a primary residence, might be required under the FHAA. But plaintiff cannot use that accommodation to support her disability discrimination claim because HACSA did not deny her access to housing for violating the primary residence rule.

         A. Inability to Communicate with HACSA

         In her second amended complaint, plaintiff repeats several times that a prior PTSD-triggering episode involving HACSA (specifically, her landlord entering her home without permission) rendered her unable to respond to HACSA's attempts to communicate with her. She alleges that HACSA continues to send her notices regarding failure to pay rent as a way of harassing her "when they already know and have documentation of the fact that I cannot communicate with them." Second Am. Compl. at 3. It does not appear that this inability to communicate comes and goes; plaintiffs ...

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