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Gao v. Snyder Companies

July 13, 2010

JINRUN GAO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SNYDER COMPANIES*FN1, AND BRICKYARD APARTMENTS BY SNYDER, LLC, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Byron G. Cudmore, U.S. Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, pursues claims under the Fair Housing Act. Defendants move to dismiss on grounds of res judicata. For the reasons below, the Court recommends that the motion be denied with leave to renew.

Allegations in Amended Complaint (d/e 19)

These allegations are taken from the amended complaint (d/e 19). They are liberally construed and set forth as true for purposes of this order only. EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776-77 (7th Cir. 2007)(factual allegations taken as true on Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss); Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009)(pro se pleadings liberally construed).

Plaintiff and his wife, who are both of American-Chinese and Chinese origin, leased an apartment in Defendant's apartment complex for a little over one year, from January 25, 2007, to February 29, 2008. (d/e 19, ¶ 6).On or about January 18, 2008, second hand cigarette smoke began seeping in from the adjoining apartment, which was occupied by Caucasian tenants. The smoke allegedly rendered Plaintiff's apartment uninhabitable and caused Plaintiff's wife to develop asthma and respiratory problems, "substantially limit[ing] her ability to breathe causing a dramatic decline in her health." Id. ¶ 8. Doctors advised Plaintiff's wife to move out of the apartment immediately. Id.

Plaintiff and his wife repeatedly complained to Defendants about the smoke and asked for reasonable accommodations, such as repairing the walls, providing air filtration, or designating the building as non-smoking. Defendants denied these requests and also ignored emergency calls for inspection. Id. ¶ 9. On February 2, 2008, Plaintiff and his wife visited the rental office, again complaining of the smoke and requesting accommodation. The assistant manager (a Caucasian) denied the request, remarking, "Why do you Chinese people have so many problems?"

Id. ¶ 10. This did not deter Plaintiff, who continued to assert his rights, which in turn enraged the assistant manager. The assistant manager ordered Plaintiff to leave, and, as Plaintiff was leaving, another employee (Leo) warned Plaintiff that he would be arrested if he said another word. Plaintiff asked Leo if he was a police officer or had an arrest warrant, to which the Leo replied, "Believe me, I will arrest you." Id. "The Plaintiff then called 911 in fear that Defendants and their employees may commit such crime as kidnapping. A police officer was dispatched by the 911 center to protect the Plaintiff and his wife." Id.

Two days later, Defendants sent a letter to Plaintiff and his wife, informing them that their lease would not be renewed in July, due to the incident. Plaintiff and his family were also barred from the rental office and clubhouse. They were therefore unable to use the exercise machines, pick up mail packages or pay rent like the other tenants. Id. ¶ 11. Additionally, on February 26, 2008, Defendants refused Plaintiff's request for unspecified maintenance.

As a result of Defendants' failure to remedy the situation or offer reasonable accommodation, Plaintiff's wife had to live in hotels for an unspecified period of time. On January 29, 2010, Plaintiff filed this case, pursuing claims under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq. ("FHA").

Discussion

Plaintiffpursues FHA claims based on Defendants' alleged discrimination based on race and national origin and Defendants' refusal to make reasonable accommodations for Plaintiff's wife. Plaintiff also pursues a claim for retaliation for exercising his FHA rights. (d/e 19, ¶ 13).

I. Stephen Snyder

Defendants' motion asks to dismiss Stephen Snyder, who was named as a defendant in the original Complaint. (d/e 1). Stephen Snyder has since been terminated because Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint dropping Stephen Snyder as a defendant. (Amended Complaint, d/e 19; d/e 18, ΒΆ ...


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