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Alicia Tyrrell and Toni J. Dini v. Elisabeth Manly

August 29, 2012

ALICIA TYRRELL AND TONI J. DINI, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ELISABETH MANLY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant Elisabeth Manly's (Manly) motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the motion for summary judgment is granted in part and the remaining state law claims are dismissed without prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Manly is allegedly the owner, landlord, and property manager of a nine-unit apartment complex in Glenview, Illinois called Greenwillow (Greenwillow). Plaintiff Alicia Ann Tyrrell (Tyrrell) and Plaintiff Toni J. Dini (Dini) each have two minor children. Dini and Tyrrell allegedly moved into Greenwillow in June and November 2010, respectively. Plaintiffs contend that Manly discriminated against them because they have children that live with them in their rental units. Plaintiffs also contend that Manly harassed and threatened Plaintiffs with eviction because of Plaintiffs' children's conduct while playing outside the complex at Greenwillow. Plaintiffs allegedly contacted Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs (IHC) to complain about Manly's alleged discriminatory practices. IHC allegedly sent testers to attempt to rent apartments at Greenwillow, and Manly allegedly did not return the calls of testers who represented that they had children. Tyrrell's lease allegedly expired in November of 2011, and was not renewed. Dini's lease was allegedly renewed until May of 2012, but her lease was not again renewed after that date. Plaintiffs include in their complaint claims alleging that Manly discriminated against Plaintiffs because they have children in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604 (Section 3604) of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. (Count I), claims alleging that Plaintiffs were harassed, threatened, coerced, and intimidated in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617 (Section 3617) of the FHA (Count II), and claims alleging a discrimination in violation of 775 ILCS 5/3-102(A) of the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA), 775 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq. (Count III). Manly now moves for summary judgment on all claims.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Smith v. Hope School, 560 F.3d 694, 699 (7th Cir. 2009). A "genuine issue" of material fact in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must consider the record as a whole, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

I. FHA Claims

Manly argues that Plaintiffs have not pointed to sufficient evidence for the Section 3604 claims or the Section 3617 claims. The Seventh Circuit has indicated that an analysis of housing discrimination claims at the summary judgment stage should mirror the analysis for employment discrimination claims. See, e.g., East-Miller v. Lake County Highway Dept., 421 F.3d 558, 562-63 (7th Cir. 2005). In response to a defendant's motion for summary judgment on a FHA claim, to prove intentional discrimination, the plaintiff can proceed under the direct method of proof or indirect method of proof. Id. Plaintiffs argue that in this case they can defeat Manly's motion for summary judgment on the FHA claims under the direct method of proof. (Ans. SJ 11 n.5). Under the direct method of proof, a plaintiff must show that intentional discrimination can be inferred from a "convincing mosaic of circumstantial evidence. . . ." Jajeh v. County of Cook, 678 F.3d 560, 570 (7th Cir. 2012)(quoting O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011)(internal quotations omitted). A convincing mosaic can be shown by: "(1) suspicious timing, ambiguous statements and other bits and pieces from which an inference of retaliatory intent might be drawn; (2) evidence that similarly situated [individuals] were treated differently; and (3) evidence that the [defendant] offered a pretextual reason for" the action that was adverse to the plaintiff. Id. (quoting Coleman v. Donahoe, 667 F.3d 835, 859 (7th Cir. 2012))(internal quotations omitted).

A. Section 3604 Claims

Manly argues that there is not sufficient evidence that shows that she violated Section 3604. Section 3604 provides in part the following:

As made applicable by section 3603 of this title and except as exempted by sections 3603(b) and 3607 of this title, it shall be unlawful-- . . . (b) To discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin. . . . 42 U.S.C. § 3604.

1. Testers

Plaintiffs argue that there is evidence that IHC sent testers to attempt to rent apartments at Greenwillow, and that certain testers who represented that they had young children did not receive a call back. (SAF Par. 15-27). However, in this case, Plaintiffs are not contending that Manly refused to rent to them because they have children. In fact, the undisputed evidence clearly indicates the contrary. It is undisputed that in May 2010, Dini contacted Manly and informed her that she wanted to rent an apartment for herself and her two young children. (R SF Par. 5). It is also undisputed that Dini then visited Greenwillow and that "Manly encouraged her to rent the townhouse and advised Dini that there was a park a few blocks away from the ...


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