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Leggett v. Louis Capra & Associates, LLC

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

April 10, 2015

Annie Maria Leggett, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Louis Capra & Associates, LLC, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

PHILIP G. REINHARD, District Judge.

For the reasons stated below, plaintiff's ADA (Count I) and FHA (Count II) claims are dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff's 15 U.S.C. § 1692f(1) claim (set forth in Count VIII), to the extent it involves the right to possession or amounts awarded in the October 28, 2011 state-court judgment, is dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff's remaining FDCPA claims (set forth in Count VIII) are dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state-law claims (Counts III, IV, V, VII, and IX) and they are dismissed without prejudice. This case is terminated.

STATEMENT-OPINION

Plaintiff, Annie Maria Leggett, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated[1] (as to all counts but Count IX), and the State of Illinois ex rel Annie Maria Leggett (as to Count IX only), brings this action via her first amended complaint [53] against defendants, Louis Capra & Associates, LLC, an Illinois limited liability company ("LLC"), Louis Capra[2], and Michael McCarthy. Plaintiff asserts three federal claims: 1) a violation of the American's with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (Count I); 2) a violation of the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq. (Count II); and, 3) a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. (Count VIII). She also asserts state law claims for violations of the City of Rockford Fair Housing Code (Count III), Illinois Security Deposit Interest Act, 765 ILCS 715/0.01 et seq. (Count IV), Illinois Security Deposit Return Act, 765 ILCS 710/0.01 et seq. (Count V), Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, 815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (Count VII[3]) and a qui tam action under the Illinois Reward and Whistleblower Protection Act, 740 ILCS 175/4 (Count IX). Jurisdiction is premised on federal question jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § 1331) for Counts I, II and VIII. Jurisdiction for the remaining counts (III, IV, V, VII, and IX) is asserted pursuant to the court's supplemental jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § 1367 (a)). Defendants Louis Capra and Louis Capra & Associates, LLC move [54] to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). McCarthy separately moves [69] to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) asserting the claims against him were discharged in bankruptcy.

The facts are taken from plaintiff's first amended complaint and the exhibits attached to it. At all times relevant, Capra was the member-manager of the LLC and McCarthy was the property manager for the subject property. Plaintiff entered into a written lease agreement for an apartment on or about November 1, 2010.[4] The terms of this lease agreement were the same or substantially similar to the terms of a second written lease which is attached as an exhibit to the first amended complaint. This document ("Second Lease"), captioned "Rental Contract", is dated October 30, 2011. On the first page, it identifies "Louis Capra & Associates" as the lessor/landlord. Near the top of the page Michael McCarthy is identified as "Property Manager." On the rental contract's signature line for the Lessor is the signature "Louis Capra." Numerous riders and attachments filed by plaintiff as exhibits to the complaint are also signed on the line identifying the lessor with the name "Louis Capra." A document captioned "Termination of Tenancy" has "Louis Capra & Associates" typed above a signature line. The signature line contains the signature "Louis Capra" and the word "Owner" is typed under the signature line. A document captioned "Crime Free Lease Addendum" contains the signature "Louis Capra" on a line designated "Owner/Manager's Signature."

At all times during her tenancy, plaintiff was a beneficiary of housing assistance payments through the Rental Housing Support Program of the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Throughout her tenancy, government assistance constituted approximately $458.00 of plaintiff's $615.00 monthly rent. Plaintiff paid the rest. On or about October 30, 2011 (the commencement of the Second Lease), plaintiff paid defendants a security deposit of $615.00. Plaintiff never received interest on this security deposit.

On or about October 18, 2011, Capra and McCarthy, in their own names filed, pro se, a forcible entry and detainer case against plaintiff in state court seeking possession of the property (3775 Trilling # 208) and $2012.00 in rent due. On October 28, 2011, the state court entered a judgment granting Capra and McCarthy possession of the property and awarding them $2000. They did not enforce this judgment to evict plaintiff from the property, but instead, the Second Lease was entered on October 30, 2011.

Eight months later, on June 25, 2012, Capra and McCarthy moved "to reinstate expired order for possession." In their motion and notice of motion they listed the wrong address for the property and requested possession of the wrong property. They incorrectly listed the property and plaintiff's address as 3735 Trilling # 208. The notice of motion provided the affirmation of McCarthy that he had mailed a copy of the motion "to each party's respective last known address." Plaintiff alleges Capra and McCarthy "never served the notice and motion upon the plaintiff at the subject matter property." On July 2, 2012, the state court entered an order ("2012 Order") granting the "motion to reinstate expired order for possession from 10/28/11." This order correctly identified the property as 3775 Trilling #208.

The complaint alleges that on July 7, 2012, Capra and/or McCarthy, changed the locks on plaintiff's apartment, removed her personal property from it and "damaged, destroyed, or otherwise rendered unusable" plaintiff's personal property and that the sheriff was not present when defendants locked plaintiff out of her apartment.[5] Plaintiff left the subject property in the same or substantially similar condition as when she moved in, subject to normal wear and tear. On July 28, 2012, defendants sent plaintiff a letter advising that her security deposit had been forfeited because she had not given written notice to vacate 60 days prior to the expiration of her lease. The stated expiration date of the Second Lease was October 30, 2012. Plaintiff only vacated the premises because she was locked out by defendants.

On July 2, 2013, one year after the entry of the 2012 Order, the state court entered an order ("2013 Order") granting Leggett's petition to vacate the 2012 Order as void. In the 2013 Order, the state court found the 2012 Order was void "because the matters relevant to said order are purely statutory in nature, and the statute was not followed." The 2013 Order also provided that Leggett "withdraws her request for restoration of the subject premises; [Capra & McCarthy] are entitled to possession of said premises."

Both leases included a rider entitled "Ability To Live Independently Clause." The rider contained the following language: "A condition to admission and continued occupancy is that the TENANT must possess the ability to live independently, i.e. the ability either in conjunction with available supportive services or otherwise, to maintain their person and/or apartment in a manner which is not detrimental to the TENANT's safety or personal well-being or to the safety or well-being of other tenants. Inability of such TENANT to live independently shall be deemed a violation of this lease, for which the OWNER shall have the right to terminate this lease upon thirty (30) days written notice."

Plaintiff alleges that at all times relevant she was disabled due to a series of chronic infectious illnesses, was "disabled" as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12102, and that defendants were aware of her disability. During her tenancy, plaintiff became unable to live independently. Plaintiff alleges Capra and McCarthy filed the eviction case against her "inter alia, pursuant to the Ability to Live Independently Rider'" and that they changed her locks on July 7, 2012 "pursuant to the Ability to Live Independently Rider.'" She alleges they would not have filed the eviction case or actually evicted her but for her disability.

Because there is no diversity of citizenship between the parties, this court's subject matter jurisdiction depends on the complaint's federal claims (Counts I, II, and VIII). The state law claims are only proper in this court if they fall within the court's supplemental jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) and the court does not decline to exercise that supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(1)-(4). Accordingly, the court will examine the federal claims first.

The Capra Defendants argue the Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes plaintiff from bringing the ADA and FHA claims against them in this action. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars federal courts other than the Supreme Court of the United States from reviewing judgments entered by state courts in civil litigation. Harold v. Steel, 773 F.3d 884, 885 (7th Cir. 2014). The "doctrine applies when the state court's judgment is the source of the injury of which plaintiffs complain in federal court." Id. It bars cases "brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court ...


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