United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
BYRON K. DANIELS PLAINTIFF
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, DEFENDANTS
motions to dismiss filed by defendants Department of Housing
and Urban Development [Doc. No. 26], Sunset Terrace,
Metropolian Housing Alliance, Robyn Hornes, Kathy Washington,
and Kalimba Summerville [Doc. No. 14] are granted, and
plaintiff Byron Daniels's motions for default judgment,
judgement on the pleadings, and summary judgment [Doc. No.
24] are denied.
plaintiff Byron Daniels's allegations as true, the
material facts are as follows. Lou White, Daniels's
mother, leased a two-bedroom unit at Sunset Terrace, a
property owned and operated by Housing Authority of the City
of Little Rock, d/b/a Metropolitan Housing Alliance
(“MHA”). Compl. ¶¶ 4-6, Doc. No. 2. As
an accommodation to White's disability, Daniels was
permitted to live with White as a live-in aide. Id.
Daniels signed a live-in aide agreement in which he agreed he
was an “employee of Lou White” and that he
“ha[d] no other rights to the unit.” Id.
¶ 11 (referencing live-in aide agreement); id.
n.1 (describing agreement); Doc. No. 3 at 6 (live-in aide
agreement). The agreement also provided that “[i]f the
employer/employee relationship is severed, [Daniels] will
move out of the unit immediately”, and “[i]f
[White] dies, [Daniels] has no right to remain in the unit
and will vacate the apartment immediately.” Doc. No. 3
September 16, 2016, White passed away. Daniels, however, did
not vacate the apartment immediately. He spoke to defendants
Robyn Hornes, property manager, and Kalimba Summerville,
assistant property manager, about transferring White's
unit into Daniels's name. Compl. ¶ 11. Daniels was
told he could not live in White's two-bedroom unit by
himself and that he had no continued right to occupy the unit
after his mother's passing. Id. In response,
Daniels attempted to add his six-year old nephew to a lease.
Apparently, Hornes or Summerville worked with defendant Kathy
Washington, interim director of asset management, to either
get approval of this relationship or to get approval to
transfer tenancy of White's unit into Daniels's name.
The requests were denied. Id.
refused to move out and filed suit for money damages and an
injunction. He sued Sunset Terrace; MHA; Hornes; Summerville;
Washington; and the Department of Housing and Urban
Development (“HUD”). He claims defendants (1)
unlawfully discriminated based on familial status, race, and
gender; (2) breached fiduciary duties; (3) caused a contract
to be signed under duress; and (4) refused live-in aides
housing in an unconstitutional manner. Defendants have all
moved to dismiss, and Daniels moves for judgment on the
pleadings, for summary judgment, and for default judgment.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal when the
plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. To meet the 12(b)(6) standard, a complaint must
allege sufficient facts to entitle the plaintiff to the
relief sought. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
663 (2009). Although detailed factual allegations are not
required, threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, are
insufficient. Id. In ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss, materials embraced by the pleadings, as well as
exhibits attached to the pleadings and matters of public
record, may all be considered. Mills v. City of Grand
Forks, 614 F.3d 495, 498 (8th Cir. 2010).
Daniels's claims are dismissed either because a party is
immune or because he has failed to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted.
analyzing Daniels's claims, one observation is necessary.
The gravamen of Daniels's claims against defendants is
that he acquired some property interest in White's
apartment after becoming a live-in aide, and when defendants
refused to allow him to remain in White's apartment after
her passing, his property interest was impaired. This is a
fundamental misunderstanding of how one acquires property
interests in an apartment. A property interest arises from a
written lease agreement for the unit in question, rather than
simply occupying the unit as caregiver. See 24
C.F.R. § 982.308 (“The tenant and the owner must
enter a lease for the unit. The lease must be executed by the
owner and the tenant.”); see also Ark. Code
Ann. § 18-17-301(15) (defining “tenant” as
“a person entitled under a rental agreement to occupy a
dwelling unit to the exclusion of others”). Here, there
was no lease agreement between Daniels and defendants, and
Daniels's only right to occupy White's unit was
premised on him providing caregiving services to White.
that understanding in mind, each of Daniels's claims will
be discussed in turn.
Daniels's Motion for Default Judgment [Doc. No.
motion for default judgment is denied. Daniels moved for
default judgment against HUD because of its failure to answer
or move for dismissal in time. Doc. No. 29. A clerk's
entry of default has not been entered, which must precede a
grant of default judgment under Rule 55(b). Johnson v.
Dayton Elec. Mfg. Co., 140 F.3d 781, 784 (8th Cir.
1998). Even if an entry did occur, “a party is not
entitled to a default judgment as a matter of right, even
where the defendant is technically in default.”
Lewis v. Lynn, 236 F.3d 766, 767 (5th Cir. 2011);
see Ackra Direct Mktg Corp. v. Fingerhut Corp., 86
F.3d 852, 856 (8th Cir. 1996) (review of order on default
judgment is for abuse of discretion); Oberstar v. Federal
Deposit Ins. Corp., 987 F.2d 494, 504 (8th Cir. 1993)
(“We have frequently endorsed the strong judicial
policy against default judgments. Applying this policy, we
recently held a district court abused its discretion by
entering a default judgment for a marginal failure to comply
with the time requirements.”) (citations and quotation
omitted). As discussed below, Daniels's claims against
HUD must be dismissed, and therefore his request for default
judgment is denied. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(d)
(“A default judgment may be entered against the United
States, its officers, or its agencies only if the
claimant establishes a claim or right to relief by evidence
that satisfies the court.”) (emphasis added).
claims against HUD for violating the Fair Housing Act (Title
VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968), 42 U.S.C. § 1982,
42 U.S.C. § 1983, and state tort law are dismissed. As
explained below, Daniels's claims are barred by ...