United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
R. LAMMENS United States Magistrate Judge
action under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), pro se
Plaintiff requests leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Doc. No. 2). Previously, due to deficiencies
in the complaint, the Court deferred issuing a report and
recommendation on Plaintiff's motion and allowed
Plaintiff an opportunity to file an amended complaint.
Plaintiff has now done so. (Doc. 4). Because the complaint
still contains numerous deficiencies, however,
Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis
is due to be denied and her complaint dismissed.
Springs Resort is a RV campground and vacation rental
community located in Salt Springs, Florida within the Ocala
National Forest. Plaintiff purchased an RV lot in the Resort
in June 2014 and lives on the property. Plaintiff alleges
that she suffers from PTSD, depression, a “back issue,
” “psychiatric and neurological disabilities,
” and “trigger fingers.” (Doc. 4 ¶19).
She relies on a service dog, her white poodle “Prince,
” who assists Plaintiff by “picking up and
carrying things for her, detecting and altering her of her
medicine . . . [and] by preventing or interrupting compulsive
or destructive behaviors.” (Doc. 4 ¶21).
can be discerned from the complaint, these events began in
mid-2014 when Plaintiff was fined by the Salt Springs Resort
Association for various violations of the Association's
by-laws, including refusing to take down a “pet
fence” when not in use. Plaintiff purchased the pet
fence after the Marion County Animal Services informed her
that she could not allow the dog to roam freely around the
property. The Association did not object to the pet
fence, or to the presence of the service animal, but required
that the pet fence be taken down when not in use. Plaintiff
alleges that she wished, as a reasonable accommodation, to be
allowed to leave the fence up at all times because her
trigger fingers make it difficult to fold and unfold the
early 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
(“HUD”) alleging the Association's by-laws
were being applied in a discriminatory manner. (Doc. 4
¶64). The complaint was ultimately dismissed after a
finding of “No cause.” Plaintiff also filed a
complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Rights, which
also resulted in a “No Cause” finding, although
Plaintiff is currently challenging the dismissal of her
untimely administrative appeal.
of 2017, the Association filed an action to foreclose on
Plaintiff's property based on the fines and unpaid dues.
Plaintiff does not dispute that she has not paid the fines
and owes dues but insists that she was unfairly targeted for
retaliation. (Doc. 4 ¶¶81-84). The foreclosure
proceeding remains pending.
addition to alleging that Defendants denied her a reasonable
accommodation and applied the by-laws in a discriminatory
manner, Plaintiff also alleges several residents of Salt
Springs, including some of the named Defendants, slandered
and harassed her, trespassed and destroyed her property,
invaded of her privacy rights, filed false complaints against
her, and engaged in unfair debt collection practices.
individual may be allowed to proceed in forma
pauperis if the individual declares in an affidavit that
she “is unable to pay such fees or give security
therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). However, before
a plaintiff is permitted to proceed in forma
pauperis, the Court is obligated to review the complaint
to determine whether it is frivolous, malicious, or
“fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted.” Id. § 1915(e)(2). If the
complaint is deficient, the Court is required to dismiss the
suit sua sponte. Id.
lawsuit is frivolous if the plaintiff's realistic chances
of ultimate success are slight.” Clark v. Ga.
Pardons & Paroles Bd., 915 F.2d 636, 639 (11th Cir.
1984) (internal citations omitted). The district court may
dismiss a complaint under § 1915 on grounds of
frivolousness if an affirmative defense would defeat the
action. Id. at 640. “When the defense is
apparent from the fact of a complaint or the court's
records, courts need not wait and see if the defense will be
asserted in a defensive pleading.” Id. at n.2.
“Indigence does not create a constitutional right to
the expenditure of public funds and the valuable time of the
courts in order to prosecute an action which is totally
without merit.” Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d
782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984).
evaluating a complaint under § 1915, a document filed
pro se is to be liberally construed. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The bare minimum a
plaintiff must set forth in the complaint is found in Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 8, and explained further in
Iqbal and Twombly. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). “A pleading that
states a claim for relief 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). While
particularity is not required under Rule 8, “[a]
pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or
‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Eleventh Circuit utilizes a two-pronged approach in its
application of the holdings in Iqbal and
Twombly. First, “eliminate any allegations in
the complaint that are merely legal conclusions, ” and
then, “where there are well-pleaded factual
allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then determine
whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief.'” Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna
Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). In short, the law requires
something more “than an unadorned
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.