United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER
E. STEELE, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on defendants' Motions to
Dismiss Counts I and II for Failure to State a Claim (Docs.
##31, 32) filed on March 21 and 26, 2018. Plaintiff filed a
Response in Opposition (Doc. #36) on April 10, 2018. For the
reasons set forth below, the Motions are granted in part and
denied in part.
Fair Housing Act case, plaintiff Kailani Carlson alleges that
defendants constructively denied her requested accommodation
of keeping an emotional support dog at her home to alleviate
her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. On May 2,
2018, plaintiff filed a three-count Amended Complaint (Doc.
#28) against defendants Sunshine Villas HOA, Inc., Allan
Nielsen as treasurer of Sunshine Villas, and Doris Walters as
vice president of Sunshine Villas and plaintiff's
landlord. Plaintiff brings two claims for violation of the
Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1) (Count I) and
§ 3704(f)(3) (Count II). Count III alleges that Walters
violated the Florida Consumer Credit Protection Act.
Amended Complaint alleges as follows: Plaintiff has resided
at the Sunshine Villas in Port Charlotte, Florida for nearly
three years with her minor daughter. (Doc. #28, ¶ 15.)
Defendant Walters is the vice president of Sunshine Villas
Home Owner's Association (HOA), and Defendant Nielsen is
the registered agent and treasurer of the HOA. (Id.,
¶¶ 22-23.) Walters owns the unit plaintiff resides
in pursuant to a Lease Agreement entered into between them.
suffers from PTSD, and is supervised by doctors for the
condition. (Doc. #28, ¶ 26.) In April 2017, due to her
PTSD, plaintiff's doctors suggested that she obtain an
emotional support dog. (Id., ¶ 31.) In early
September 2017, plaintiff discussed the emotional support dog
with Walters, providing Walters with a written request for an
accommodation along with a letter from plaintiff's
medical provider that plaintiff needed a service dog due to
plaintiff's PTSD. (Id., ¶ 33; Docs. ##28-2,
28-3.) During the discussion, Walters did not object to the
emotional support dog, only telling plaintiff to “pick
up after” the dog. (Id., ¶ 34.)
Walters initial acquiescence, plaintiff received a letter
from Walters dated September 26, 2017, informing plaintiff
that she was not allowed to have a dog reside at the
apartment because dogs are not allowed at Sunshine Villas.
(Doc. #28-4.) Walters stated that she had “spoken to
our manager . . . and know he will fight it.”
(Id.) Plaintiff believes Walters was referring to
defendant Nielsen as the “manager” in the letter.
After the letter, Walters began to text plaintiff for several
days harassing her about the emotional support dog and
threatening eviction. (Id., ¶ 39.) Plaintiff
provided Walters with a second letter from her doctor stating
plaintiff's medical need for an emotional support dog.
(Id., ¶ 40; Doc. #28-5.)
plaintiff believes was retaliation for her request for a
reasonable accommodation, on October 6, 2017, Walters sent
plaintiff a Final Notice to Vacate, stating that since
plaintiff's lease was now on a month-to-month basis,
Walters was terminating the lease and ordered plaintiff to
vacate the apartment by November 1, 2017. Plaintiff received
the letter on October 12, 2017. (Doc. #28, ¶ 42; Doc.
#28-6, p. 16.) On October 13, 2017, plaintiff paid Walters
monthly rent in advance for the rental period October 15,
2017 to November 15, 2017. (Doc. #28, ¶ 41.) At this
point, plaintiff retained counsel to assist her.
(Id., ¶ 45.)
returned the rent money to plaintiff, informing plaintiff
that she only owed a half-month rent (from October 15
-November 1, 2017) because plaintiff was to vacate by
November 1, 2017. (Doc. #28, ¶ 46; Doc. #28-7.)
Plaintiff then received a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or
Deliver Possession from Walters, dated October 26, 2017.
(Id., ¶ 47; Doc. #28-8.) Although counsel
represented plaintiff at this point, plaintiff again tried to
pay Walters the full rent and notified Walters that her
eviction attempts were illegal. (Doc. #28-9.)
to filing suit, plaintiff's counsel contacted Nielsen at
Sunshine Villas HOA and requested a policy, procedure, or
information necessary for requesting a reasonable
accommodation. (Doc. #28, ¶¶ 50-53.) Nielsen
refused to provide any information and directed plaintiff to
contact their counsel. (Id.) Plaintiff's counsel
contacted defense counsel prior to filing suit, requesting a
reasonable accommodation, but still prepared to file suit.
(Id., ¶ 56.) On October 31, 2017,
defendants' attorney notified plaintiff that she would be
granted the reasonable accommodation of an emotional support
dog. (Id., ¶ 57.) Plaintiff alleges that as a
result of defendants' violations of the FHA prior to
granting her request, plaintiff has suffered pain, emotional
distress, embarrassment, and costs associated with seeking to
resolve the matter. (Id., ¶ 58.) Moreover,
plaintiff alleges that because she currently only has a
month-to-month tenancy at her Sunshine Village apartment, she
does not feel secure in her home. (Id., ¶ 59.)
move to dismiss, arguing that plaintiff's FHA claims fail
because defendants provided plaintiff with a reasonable
accommodation and plaintiff still resides at the apartment
with the emotional support dog. Plaintiff believes that the
delay in providing the accommodation was unreasonable and
unlawful under the FHA.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), 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). This obligation “requires more
than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(citation omitted). To survive dismissal, the factual
allegations must be “plausible” and “must
be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Id. at 555. See also Edwards v.
Prime Inc., 602 F.3d 1276, 1291 (11th Cir. 2010). This
requires “more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must
accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and
take them in the light most favorable to plaintiff,
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), but
“[l]egal conclusions without adequate factual support
are entitled to no assumption of truth.” Mamani v.
Berzain, 654 F.3d 1148, 1153 (11th Cir. 2011) (citations
omitted). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
“Factual allegations that are merely consistent with a
defendant's liability fall short of being facially
plausible.” Chaparro v. Carnival Corp., 693
F.3d 1333, 1337 (11th Cir. 2012) (internal citations
omitted). Thus, the Court engages in a two-step ...