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Downs v. Red Brick Management, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

September 23, 2019

KIM DOWNS, Plaintiff,
v.
RED BRICK MANAGEMENT, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants Red Brick Management, LLC ("Red Brick") and Angie Hickey's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Kim Downs's Complaint. (ECF No. 12) The motion has been fully briefed. After careful consideration, the Court grants the motion, in part, and dismisses Plaintiffs cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Red Brick and Hickey (referred to collectively as "Defendants") and Plaintiffs first cause of action under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq., for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Court denies the motion, in part, as to Plaintiffs second cause of action under the FHA and orders Plaintiff to file an amended complaint within fifteen (15) days of this Memorandum and Order.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff Kim Downs filed this pro se Complaint against the property owner (Red Brick) and landlord (Hickey) of the apartment building where she previously lived, which is located in the City of St. Louis. (ECF No. 1) Reading Plaintiff s pro se Complaint liberally, she asserts three identical causes of action against each defendant.[2] First, she claims Defendants violated her rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution by letting police enter her apartment and, thus, are liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Second, Plaintiff asserts Defendants violated the FHA by filing a police report claiming she had stolen property from another apartment in the same complex. Third, she alleges Defendants violated the FHA by not renewing her lease agreement.

         Defendants now move to dismiss Plaintiff s claims against them. (ECF No. 12) Plaintiff opposes the motion. (ECF No. 14)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A complaint must be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if the complaint fails to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level...." Id. at 555. Courts must liberally construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept the factual allegations as true. See Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (stating that in a motion to dismiss, courts accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint); Eckert v. Titan Tire Corp., 514 F.3d 801, 806 (8th Cir. 2008) (explaining that courts should liberally construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff).

         However, "[w]here the allegations show on the face of the complaint there is some insuperable bar to relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate." Benton v. Merrill Lynch & Co., 524 F.3d 866, 870 (8th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). Courts "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). When considering a motion to dismiss, a court can "begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Id. at 679. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations to survive a motion to dismiss. Id.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Plaintiffs § 1983 claim

         42 U.S.C. § 1983 was designed to provide a "broad remedy for violations of federally protected civil rights." Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 685 (1978). Section 1983 provides no substantive rights; it merely provides a remedy for violations of all "rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws [of the United States]." 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (section 1983 "merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred"). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must establish: (1) the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) that the alleged deprivation of that right was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         As an initial matter, Defendants argue Plaintiff has failed to allege a Fourth Amendment violation. The Fourth Amendment provides:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

         "The text of the Amendment thus expressly imposes two requirements. First, all searches and seizures must be reasonable. Second, a warrant may not be issued unless probable cause is properly established and the scope of the authorized search is set out ...


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