Chambless Enters., LLC v. Redfield, CIVIL ACTION NO: 3:20-cv-01455

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
Citation508 F.Supp.3d 101
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO: 3:20-cv-01455
Parties CHAMBLESS ENTERPRISES, LLC, et al. v. Robert REDFIELD, et al.
Decision Date22 December 2020

508 F.Supp.3d 101

CHAMBLESS ENTERPRISES, LLC, et al.
v.
Robert REDFIELD, et al.

CIVIL ACTION NO: 3:20-cv-01455

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division.

Signed December 22, 2020


508 F.Supp.3d 106

James C. Rather, Jr., Alker & Rather, Mandeville, LA, Ethan W. Blevins, Pro Hac Vice, Hannah S. Marcley, Pro Hac Vice, Luke Anthony Wake, Pro Hac Vice, Pacific Legal Foundation, Sacramento, CA, Steven M. Simpson, Pro Hac Vice, Pacific Legal Foundation, Arlington, VA, for Chambless Enterprises LLC, Apartment Association of Louisiana Inc.

Leslie Cooper Vigen, Steven A. Myers, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, DC, for Robert Redfield, Nina Witkofsky, Dept. of Health & Human Services, William Pelham Barr, Alex M. Azar, Jr., Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

RULING

TERRY A. DOUGHTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Pending here is a Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. No. 5] filed by Plaintiffs Chambless Enterprises, LLC ("Chambless") and Apartment Association of Louisiana, Inc. ("AAL") (collectively "Plaintiffs").

Defendants Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"); Robert R. Redfield as the Director of the CDC; Nina B. Witkofsky as the Acting Chief of Staff for the CDC; Alex Azar as the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("HHS"); the HHS; and William P. Barr as the Attorney General of the United States and the head of the Department of Justice (collectively "Defendants") have filed an opposition [Doc. No. 22].

A Brief of Amici Curiae in support of Defendants has been filed by the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Medical Association; Children's Healthwatch; the George Consortium; GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality;

508 F.Supp.3d 107

Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center; National Hispanic Medical Association; National Medical Association; Public Health Law Watch; Emily A. Benfer; Matthew Desmond; Gregg Gonsalves; Peter Hepburn; Danya A. Keene; Kathryn M. Leifheit; Michael Z. Levy; Sabriya A. Linton; Craig E. Pollack; Julia Raifman; Gabriel L. Schwartz; and David Vlahov [Doc. No. 28].

A Brief of Amici Curiae in support of Defendants has also been filed by Southeast Louisiana Legal Services and Acadiana Legal Service Corporation (collectively "Legal Services") [Doc. No. 31].

Plaintiffs have filed a reply to the opposition [Doc. No. 32].

For the following reasons, the Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. No. 5] is DENIED.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The United States is affected by a global pandemic, during which the respiratory disease COVID-19 has infected tens of millions worldwide and resulted in the deaths of more than 280,000 people within our borders. See Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19 , 85 Fed. Reg. 55292, 55292 (Sept. 4, 2020). The disease spreads easily between persons within close contact. Id. It can cause severe illness but may also be transmitted by persons who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic--meaning that infected persons have the potential to infect others unknowingly. Id. Despite drastic measures by federal, state, and local governments, COVID-19 continues to spread. Id.

As a result of the pandemic, "Federal, State, and local governments have taken unprecedented or exceedingly rare actions, including border closures, restrictions on travel, stay-at-home orders, mask requirements, and eviction moratoria." Id. This case involves one of those measures—eviction moratoria for certain qualifying individuals.

On September 4, 2020, the CDC, a division of the HHS, implemented a temporary eviction moratorium to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 (the "Order"). Id. While the Order is in place (September 4, 2020, through December 31, 2020, unless extended, modified or rescinded), landlords are prohibited from evicting a covered person from a residential property for the non-payment of rent. Id. at 55,292 ; 55,297. The CDC found that this moratorium is an effective public health measure because, among other things, it facilitates self-isolation by ill and at-risk persons, eases implementation of stay-at-home and social distancing measures, and decreases the likelihood that persons will experience homelessness or move into congregate settings. Id. at 55295–96.

The Order does not excuse any tenant's obligation to pay rent or impair any landlord's ability to impose fees, interest, or other penalties short of eviction. Id. at 55292. Nor does it prevent landlords from evicting tenants for reasons other than failure to pay rent, such as criminal activity or property damage. Id. at 55294.

To qualify as a covered person, the individual tenant must provide a declaration to his or her landlord under penalty of perjury indicating that: (1) "[t]he individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing"; (2) the individual satisfies certain income requirements; (3) "the individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses"; (4) "the individual is using best

508 F.Supp.3d 108

efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual's circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses"; and (5) "eviction would likely render the individual homeless—or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting—because the individual has no other available housing options." Id. at 55,293.

Plaintiffs are a residential landlord and an association of residential landlords who seek to invalidate the Order. On November 12, 2020, Plaintiffs brought this action against Defendants [Doc. No. 1]. The instant Motion for Preliminary Injunction was also filed on November 12, 2020 [Doc. No. 5]. Plaintiffs ask the Court to set aside the Order's temporary eviction moratorium and to forbid Defendants from enforcing it [Doc. No. 1, p. 17].

Defendants contend in their opposition that Plaintiffs have not shown a likelihood of success on the merits or irreparable injury. Defendants further contend that the balancing of the harms favors Defendants and that the injunction is contrary to the public interests.

The Brief of Amici Curiae filed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, et al., argues that mass evictions are likely in Louisiana and nationwide without the Order, that eviction moratoriums slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent negative short- and long-term health outcomes, and that eviction and COVID-19 disproportionately harm marginalized groups. [Doc. No. 28].

The Brief of Amici Curiae filed by Legal Services argues that weighing the public interest and balance of hardships requires considering what will happen to the tenants protected by the Order, and additionally gives examples of Legal Services clients who have avoided or delayed eviction and all of its adverse impacts as a result of the Order. [Doc. No. 31].

The issues are fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to rule.

II. ANALYSIS

In order to obtain a preliminary injunction, the party seeking the injunction must establish:

(1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, (2) a substantial threat of irreparable injury if the injunction is not issued, (3) that the threatened injury if the injunction is denied outweighs any harm that will result if the injunction is granted, and (4) that the grant of an injunction will not disserve the public interest.

Sepulvado v. Jindal , 729 F.3d 413, 417 (5th Cir. 2013). "A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy which should not be granted unless the party seeking it has clearly carried the burden of persuasion on all four requirements." Bluefield Water Ass'n v. City of Starkville , 577 F.3d 250, 253 (5th Cir. 2009).

The Court will discuss each of these elements in turn.

A. Substantial Likelihood of Success on the Merits

In their Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Plaintiffs make three claims. First, Plaintiffs contend the Order exceeds the CDC's statutory and regulatory authority. Second, Plaintiffs assert that, if the statute can be read broadly enough to authorize an eviction moratorium, then it violates the non-delegation doctrine. Third, Plaintiffs argue that the Order violates the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA").

1. Statutory and Regulatory Basis

Plaintiffs argue that the Order exceeds the CDC's statutory and regulatory authority.

508 F.Supp.3d 109

More specifically, Plaintiffs contend the Order exceeds the authority granted by 42 U.S.C. § 264 and 42 C.F.R. § 70.2, which, they assert, limit the CDC to control the interstate spread of disease by conventional, specific, disease-prevention measures, such as disinfection, fumigation, and pest extermination, that do not involve extensive control over human activity. Plaintiffs state the...

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5 cases
  • Louisiana v. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, CASE NO. 6:22-CV-00885
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    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • 20 Mayo 2022
    ...86 Fed. Reg. 8,267 (Feb. 5, 2021).210 87 Fed. Reg. 19,941.211 Id.212 ECF No. 13 at 21-22.213 Chambless Enter., LLC v. Redfield , 508 F.Supp.3d 101, 119 (W.D. La. 2020)214 5 U.S.C. § 553(a)(1).215 Texas v. United States , 809 F.3d 134, 171 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting Professionals and Patients ......
  • Skyworks, Ltd. v. Ctrs. for Disease Control & Prevention, Case No. 5:20-cv-2407
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    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
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    ...to extend as far as Defendants contend, two district courts have reached the opposite conclusion. Chambless Enters., LLC v. Redfield , 508 F. Supp. 3d 101, 110–11 (W.D. La. Dec. 22, 2020) ; Brown , 497 F. Supp. 3d at 1283–84. Another court declined to enjoin the eviction moratorium without ......
  • Ala. Ass'n of Realtors v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 20-cv-3377 (DLF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • 5 Mayo 2021
    ...(N.D. Ga. Oct. 29, 2020), appeal filed , No. 20-14210 (11th Cir. 2020); Chambless Enterprises, LLC v. Redfield , No. 20-cv-01455, 508 F.Supp.3d 101, 110–16 (W.D. La. Dec. 22, 2020), appeal filed , No. 21-30037 (5th Cir. 2021). Separately, another district court declared that the federal gov......
  • Ala. Ass'n of Realtors v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 20-cv-3377 (DLF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • 14 Mayo 2021
    ...1270, 1283–85 (N.D. Ga. 2020), appeal filed , No. 20-14210 (11th Cir. 2020); Chambless Enters., LLC v. Redfield , No. 20-cv-01455, 508 F.Supp.3d 101, 110–16 (W.D. La. Dec. 22, 2020), appeal filed, No. 21-30037 (5th Cir. 2021). Given the diverging rulings of these courts and the significance......
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1 books & journal articles
  • COVID EVICTIONS: THE LEGALITY OF NATIONAL EVICTION MORATORIUMS.
    • United States
    • Loyola Journal of Public Interest Law Vol. 23 No. 1, September 2021
    • 22 Septiembre 2021
    ...https://www.mofo.com/resources/insights/210304-eviction-moratoriums-constitutional-issues.html. (83) Chambless Ent. LLC v. Redfield, 508 F. Supp. 3d 101, 108 (W.D. La. (84) Id. at 106. (85) Id. at 108. (86) Id. at 124. (87) Id. at 111, 116, 118. (88) Brown v. Azar, 497 F. Supp. 3d 1270, 130......

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