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Nguyen v. Patek

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

October 16, 2014



GARY FEINERMAN, District Judge.

Dung Nguyen and Linh Nguyen sued their neighbors, Mary Alice Stroud Patek, John Patek, and Garrick Stroud, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1982 and the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq. Doc. 20. Defendants have moved under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss the complaint. Doc. 24. The motion is denied.


In considering the motion to dismiss, the court assumes the truth of the complaint's factual allegations, though not its legal conclusions. See Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 632 (7th Cir. 2012). The court must also consider "documents attached to the complaint, documents that are critical to the complaint and referred to in it, and information that is subject to proper judicial notice, " as well as additional facts set forth in Plaintiffs' brief opposing dismissal, so long as those facts "are consistent with the pleadings." Geinosky v. City of Chicago, 675 F.3d 743, 745 n.1 (7th Cir. 2012). The facts are set forth as favorably to Plaintiffs as permitted by these materials; by stating these facts at the pleading stage, the court does not vouch for their truth. See Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 864 (7th Cir. 2012); Turek v. Gen. Mills, Inc., 662 F.3d 423, 426 (7th Cir. 2011).

Plaintiffs and Defendants are next-door neighbors in Countryside, Illinois. Doc. 20 at pp. 2-3, ¶¶ 7, 14. Plaintiffs, who were born in Vietnam and are Asian, and Defendants, who are Caucasian, have been at odds since 2012. Id. at pp. 2-3, ¶¶ 4-10, 18. For ease of reference, the parties will be referred to by their first names.

On March 3, 2012, a companion of Garrick's broke Plaintiffs' "Private Property" sign. Id. at p. 3, ¶ 18. Four months later, Plaintiffs were loading their car when Mary Alice opened her door, exposed her bra, and yelled, "Vietnam killed Americans!" while John and Garrick stood by. Id. at p. 4, ¶ 19. On July 14, 2012, when Plaintiffs were repairing their home security camera, John approached Plaintiffs, asked "What the hell are you doing?" and yelled, "I'll fuck your ass up" before challenging Dung to a fight. Id. at p. 4, ¶ 20. Plaintiffs called the police, who recommended that the families stay away from each other. Ibid.

Two weeks later, Linh was gardening when John began staring at her and yelling "Fuck you" repeatedly. Id. at p. 4, ¶ 21. Linh turned on her car stereo, John called the police to complain about the noise, the police arrived, and John looked on angrily as Linh turned off the stereo. Ibid. The police again recommended that the families ignore each other. Ibid.

In early May 2013, Plaintiffs noticed that their "No Trespassing" sign was tilted and that one of its lights was broken. Id. at p. 5, ¶ 22. Plaintiffs reviewed a security video showing John pushing his lawn mower into the sign, and Linh called the police and played the video for them. Ibid. After the police approached him about the incident and told him about the video, John became angry, began repeating "I'm sick of this shit, " and replaced the broken light. Ibid. After the police left, John and Garrick looked on as Mary Alice yelled "Fuck you, ' and "Go back where you came from" at Linh; Mary Alice later conveyed the same sentiments to Dung, again in John's and Garrick's presence. Ibid.

Two days later, Dung approached construction workers on Defendants' patio to ask what they were doing and whether the work required a permit. Id. at p. 6, ¶ 23. Garrick ran outside and said, "What the hell-you want to fight?" Ibid. Mary Alice called the police, told them that Dung was yelling at Garrick, and Garrick and Mary Alice asked the police to charge Dung with disorderly conduct. Ibid. The police declined after seeing video of the incident captured by one of Plaintiffs' cameras. Ibid.

A few weeks later, Linh was trimming tree branches that hung over her property from a tree growing on Defendants' property. Id. pp. 6-7, at ¶ 24. John called the police and reported that Linh was cutting down the tree. Ibid. The police did not charge Linh, having found that she was only trimming branches on her property. Ibid. The police returned again on July 20, 2013, in response to John's complaint that Plaintiffs had backed one of their cars into John's daughter's car. Id. at p. 7, ¶ 25. The police could not find evidence of any contact between the cars. Ibid.

Between July 2012 and Fall 2013, Mary Alice frequently sang a song to Plaintiffs' niece when she returned from school. Id. at p. 2, ¶ 7, pp. 7-8, ¶ 26. The song's lyrics included: "The ugly people. We don't know where they come from. They come from the dirt. They come from the soot." Id. at pp. 7-8, ¶ 26. Mary Alice also sang that song to Plaintiffs when they were outside during warm weather in 2012 and 2013. Id. at p. 8, ¶¶ 27-28. John and Garrick were often present when Mary Alice sang. Ibid. In addition, Mary Alice often looked at Plaintiffs and pulled the corner of her eyes so that they were slanted. Id. at p. 8, ¶ 29. Plaintiffs and the family members who live with them often stayed inside and avoided hosting friends outside because of the harassment by and frequent confrontations with Defendants. Id. at p. 9, ¶ 32. And Plaintiff have suffered embarrassment, humiliation, and mental pain and suffering as a result of Defendants' conduct. Id. at p. 9, ¶ 34.


To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint "must contain enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face' and also must state sufficient facts to raise a plaintiff's right to relief above the speculative level." Bissessur v. Ind. Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 602 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'" Ibid. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). The Seventh Circuit has made clear that neither Twombly nor Iqbal "cast doubt on the validity of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, " Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. ...

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