Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City (f/K/A Parc Vista), Case No. 1:09–CV–0857.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
Writing for the CourtMEMORANDUM OPINION
Citation761 F.Supp.2d 346
PartiesLinda B. MATARESE, et al., Plaintiffs,v.ARCHSTONE PENTAGON CITY (f/k/a Parc Vista), et al., Defendants.
Decision Date05 January 2011
Docket NumberCase No. 1:09–CV–0857.

761 F.Supp.2d 346

Linda B. MATARESE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ARCHSTONE PENTAGON CITY (f/k/a Parc Vista), et al., Defendants.

Case No. 1:09–CV–0857.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia,Alexandria Division.

Jan. 5, 2011.


[761 F.Supp.2d 350]

John Thomas Spiggle, The Spiggle Law Firm PLLC, Arlington, VA, for Plaintiffs.John Benjamin Raftery, Thomas William Repczynski, Offit Kurman PC, Bethesda, MD, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION
GERALD BRUCE LEE, District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants Archstone Pentagon City (f/k/a Parc Vista), et al.'s 1 Motion for Summary Judgment. This case is a housing disability discrimination action arising under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. (2000), and the Virginia Fair Housing Law (“VFHL”), Va.Code Ann. §§ 36–96.1 et seq. (2000).2 Plaintiffs Ms. Linda and Mr. Domenic Matarese (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) claim that Defendants violated these federal and state fair housing laws by discriminating against them because of Ms. Matarese's alleged handicap. Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that Defendants discriminated against them by failing to provide reasonable accommodations to Ms. Matarese to afford her equal opportunity to housing, refusing to renew Plaintiffs' lease, refusing to rent Plaintiffs an apartment at a different Archstone property, making various discriminatory comments concerning Ms. Matarese's alleged handicap, and retaliating against them for raising concerns and filing Fair Housing complaints. In addition, Plaintiffs claim that Defendants were negligent in failing to properly train employees regarding FHA requirements.

The following seven issues are before the Court. First, whether the Court should grant. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on all counts because Ms. Matarese does not have a handicap and, therefore, does not fall within one of the FHA's protected classes. The Court denies Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on this basis because Plaintiffs have demonstrated that there is a material dispute of fact as to whether Ms. Matarese's condition rises to the level of handicap as defined in the FHA, such that she would fall within one of the FHA protected classes.

Second, whether the Court should grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' claims that Defendants violated § 3604(f)(1) of the FHA and section 36–96.3(A)(8) of the VFHL (Counts I and II) (collectively “refusal to rent claims”) when they decided not to renew Plaintiffs' lease, refused to allow Plaintiffs

[761 F.Supp.2d 351]

to rent an apartment at another Archstone location, and Plaintiffs still reside in the apartment. The Court denies Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' refusal to rent claims because Defendants have failed to establish as a matter of law that the nonrenewal of Plaintiffs' lease, the conversion of the lease to a month-to-month tenancy, and the refusal to rent at other Archstone locations do not constitute violations of § 3604(f)(1) of the FHA and section 36–96.3(A)(8) of the VFHL, and there is a dispute of material fact as to whether Defendants discriminated against Plaintiffs on the basis of Ms. Matarese's handicap in connection with these actions.

Third, whether the Court should grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' claim that the individual Defendants made discriminatory statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling in violation of § 3604(c) of the FHA and section 36–96.3(A)(3) of the VFHL (Counts VII and VIII), where Defendants argue that, if such statements were made, they were not made during the decision making process, and, under the ordinary listener standard, they do not indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination against Ms. Matarese on the basis of her handicap. The Court grants Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on these claims against Defendants Nur and Amilcar Garcia because Plaintiffs have not produced any evidence indicating that these individuals made any statements with respect to the rental of their apartment. The Court denies Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on these claims against Defendants McGregor and Mann because Plaintiffs have demonstrated that there is a material dispute of fact as to whether the statements of these Defendants indicate impermissible discrimination in connection with the rental of an apartment to Plaintiffs.

Fourth, whether the Court should grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' unlawful discrimination claims (all Counts) because Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that Defendants' alleged discriminatory housing actions or practices were motivated by discriminatory intent or had a discriminatory impact. The Court denies Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' discrimination claims based on a theory of discriminatory intent because there is a dispute of material fact as to whether Defendants' motivation for their actions was discriminatory and whether their legitimate nonbusiness reason was merely a pretext. The Court grants Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' claims based on a theory of disparate impact because Plaintiffs have not produced any evidence, statistical or otherwise, demonstrating that Defendants had a facially neutral policy that had a disparate impact on a protected class.

Fifth, whether the Court should grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' reasonable accommodation claims (Counts V and VI), where Plaintiffs have not produced expert testimony to demonstrate that the proposed accommodations were reasonable and necessary. The Court grants Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' reasonable accommodation claims because, without expert testimony on the causation issues, Plaintiffs have not met their burden in establishing that the proposed accommodations were necessary to provide her equal opportunity to housing.

Sixth, whether the Court should grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' negligence claim (Count XI) for Defendants' failure to train their employees in the requirements of the fair housing laws. The Court grants Defendants'

[761 F.Supp.2d 352]

Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' negligence claim because Plaintiffs have not shown that Defendants owed Plaintiffs a legal duty to train their employees in the requirements of the fair housing laws, and, even if they had such a duty, Plaintiffs have not offered any evidence or legal authority establishing the scope of that duty or applicable standard of care.

Seventh, whether the Court should grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to all claims against all corporate Defendants that were not directly involved in the management, operation, maintenance, and control of Plaintiffs' apartment building. The Court grants Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on all of Plaintiffs' claims against APC, Archstone MultiFamily Series Trust I, and Archstone LLC because APC is not a legal entity, and Plaintiffs failed to offer evidence demonstrating that the other two corporate Defendants had any involvement in the operation and control of APC and its employees.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Linda and Domenic Matarese, a married couple, have rented and lived in Unit 1405 at APC for over 18 years. From 1991 to 2007, their annual lease was routinely renewed. In August 2007, Plaintiffs did not receive a lease renewal invitation letter as they had in previous years. In October 2007, after repeated requests, Plaintiffs' lease was renewed at a 34% increase in rent. In November 2008, Defendants issued Plaintiffs a lease nonrenewal letter, informing them that they would need to vacate the property. Plaintiffs were told that, not only would their lease not be renewed, but they would not be permitted to rent an apartment at a different Archstone location. Although Plaintiffs still reside in the apartment, their lease was converted to a month-to-month tenancy, which Defendants can terminate by providing proper notice.

Ms. Matarese's condition

Ms. Matarese claims that, for many years, she has suffered severely from various handicaps, including chemical sensitivities to paint fumes, tobacco smoke, and mold; chronic fatigue syndrome; and fibromyalgia. Ms. Matarese claims that she reacts immediately when exposed to particular chemicals, and her condition is distinct from the medical condition known as “Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Syndrome” (“MCS”), where a person is sensitive to a variety of unidentified chemicals at low doses. Specifically, she claims to have severe reactions to fresh paint and paint fumes, alleging that exposure to the volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”) has a “neurological and respiratory impact” on her. In addition, Ms. Matarese claims to be physically debilitated by exposure to smoke, dust, and mold. Ms. Matarese claims that her reactions when exposed to these chemicals include becoming dizzy, coughing, having trouble breathing, and developing debilitating headaches, sore throats, and respiratory infections. The coughing, sore throats, and other respiratory problems can last for months, affecting her ability to breathe. Due to the reactions she experiences, Ms. Matarese has become extremely afraid of being exposed to such chemicals.

Dr. Jack Williams, an ear, nose, and throat physician, who has treated Ms. Matarese since December 2006, has been designated as Plaintiffs' medical expert. In his affidavit, he states that on multiple occasions Ms. Matarese has developed objective physical symptoms shortly after being exposed to paint, smoke, or mold, including bacterial rhinosinusitis, unusually thick mucus, cough, sore throats, and Candida, and that these respiratory problems

[761 F.Supp.2d 353]

have persisted sometimes for months. In addition, he states his opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Ms. Matarese is disabled as a result of her chemical sensitivities to, inter alia, paint, smoke, and...

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19 practice notes
  • Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City (f/K/A Parc Vista), Case No. 1:09–CV–0857.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • May 31, 2011
    ...XI, and XII remained. 5 Pursuant to the Court's November 23, [795 F.Supp.2d 413] 2011 Order and January 5, 2011 Memorandum Opinion, 761 F.Supp.2d 346 (E.D.Va.2011), the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. The following claims proceeded to trial:......
  • Boardley v. Household Fin. Corp., Case No. PWG–12–3009.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • August 14, 2014
    ...a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for their actions.’ ” Letke, 2013 WL 6207836, at *3 (quoting Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City, 761 F.Supp.2d 346, 362 (E.D.Va.2011) (citing McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802–05, 93 S.Ct. 1817)). Ultimately, “ ‘the burden returns to plaintiff to demo......
  • Boardley v. Household Fin. Corp. III, Case No. PWG–12–3009.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • August 14, 2014
    ...a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for their actions.’ ” Letke, 2013 WL 6207836, at *3 (quoting Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City, 761 F.Supp.2d 346, 362 (E.D.Va.2011) (citing McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802–05, 93 S.Ct. 1817 )). Ultimately, “ ‘the burden returns to plaintiff to dem......
  • Boardley v. Household Fin. Corp., Case No.: PWG-12-3009
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • August 14, 2014
    ...nondiscriminatory reason for their actions.'" Letke, 2013 WL 6207836, at *3 (quoting Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City, 761 F. Supp. 2d 346, 362 (E.D. Va. 2011) (citing McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802-05)). Ultimately, "'the burden returns to plaintiff to demonstrate that the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City (f/K/A Parc Vista), Case No. 1:09–CV–0857.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • May 31, 2011
    ...XI, and XII remained. 5 Pursuant to the Court's November 23, [795 F.Supp.2d 413] 2011 Order and January 5, 2011 Memorandum Opinion, 761 F.Supp.2d 346 (E.D.Va.2011), the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. The following claims proceeded to trial:......
  • Boardley v. Household Fin. Corp., Case No. PWG–12–3009.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • August 14, 2014
    ...a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for their actions.’ ” Letke, 2013 WL 6207836, at *3 (quoting Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City, 761 F.Supp.2d 346, 362 (E.D.Va.2011) (citing McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802–05, 93 S.Ct. 1817)). Ultimately, “ ‘the burden returns to plaintiff to demo......
  • Boardley v. Household Fin. Corp. III, Case No. PWG–12–3009.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • August 14, 2014
    ...a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for their actions.’ ” Letke, 2013 WL 6207836, at *3 (quoting Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City, 761 F.Supp.2d 346, 362 (E.D.Va.2011) (citing McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802–05, 93 S.Ct. 1817 )). Ultimately, “ ‘the burden returns to plaintiff to dem......
  • Boardley v. Household Fin. Corp., Case No.: PWG-12-3009
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • August 14, 2014
    ...nondiscriminatory reason for their actions.'" Letke, 2013 WL 6207836, at *3 (quoting Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City, 761 F. Supp. 2d 346, 362 (E.D. Va. 2011) (citing McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at 802-05)). Ultimately, "'the burden returns to plaintiff to demonstrate that the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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