Stevens v. Hous. Auth. Of South Bend, Cause No. 3:08-CV-51.

Decision Date23 June 2010
Docket NumberCause No. 3:08-CV-51.
Citation720 F.Supp.2d 1013
PartiesBridget STEVENS, Plaintiff, v. HOUSING AUTHORITY OF SOUTH BEND, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED.

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED.

Kent Hull, Indiana Legal Services Inc., South Bend, IN, for Plaintiff.

Jason T. Clagg, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Fort Wayne, IN, Michael P. Palmer, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, South Bend, IN. Brian A. Clay, Indiana Attorney General's Office, Indianapolis, IN, for Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

RUDY LOZANO, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the: (1) Motion for Summary Judgment, filed by Intervenor, the State of Indiana, on September 8, 2009 (DE # 57); and (2) Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, filed by Defendants, the Housing Authority of the City of South Bend, Indiana (HASB), Marva Leonard-Dent, Susie Harvey-Tate, Earl L. Hairston, Rafael Morton, Robert B. Toothaker, and Gladys Muhammad, also filed on September 8, 2009 (DE # 60). 1 For the reasons set forth below, the State of Indiana's Motion for Summary Judgment (DE # 57) is GRANTED on the grounds that the Court finds Plaintiff's challenge to Indiana Code section 32-30-3-1 et seq. is MOOT. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (DE # 60) is also GRANTED. The Clerk is ORDERED to DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE Plaintiff's federal claims (Cause of Action Nos. 1-4). The Clerk is ORDERED to DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiff's state law claims for breach of contract (Cause of Action No. 5) and violation of Indiana's state constitution (Cause of Action No. 6). Furthermore, the Clerk is ORDERED to CLOSE this case.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Bridget Stevens, who is African American, resided in HASB property from 2007-2009 with her two sons. On December 25, 2007, the boyfriend of Ebony Harmon (Plaintiff's daughter), Chester Higgins, was involved in a shooting just outside of Plaintiff's unit, on housing authority property. Higgins was involved in the shooting with Marcus Henderson (the father of Harmon's two children), who had given a ride home to one of Plaintiff's sons. After the shooting, HASB issued a thirty-day notice of eviction to Plaintiff in January 2008.

In her complaint filed on January 31, 2008, Plaintiff states claims of segregation in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. section 3604(b), interference with the right to contract in violation of 42 U.S.C. section 1981, breach of contract of an alleged third-party beneficiary, due process and equal protection violations of the Fourteenth Amendment in violation of 42 U.S.C. section 1983, breach of the lease contract under Indiana state law, and due course of law and equal access to courts violation guaranteed by the Indiana state constitution. The complaint requests the following relief: a declaratory judgment finding the Indiana Ejectment Statute violates federal and state law; an injunctive order, and compensatory and exemplary damages.

On September 11, 2008, the State of Indiana was granted leave to intervene in the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2403(b) for the purpose of defending Indiana's Ejectment Statute. Intervenor and Defendants both filed their instant motions for summary judgment on September 8, 2009, requesting that the Court enter summary judgment against Plaintiff on all claims raised in the complaint because there are no genuine issues of material fact, and Defendants are entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Plaintiff filed her responses to the motions for summary judgment on November 16, 2009. The State of Indiana filed its reply on December 4, 2009, and the original Defendants filed their reply on December 8, 2009. Having been fully briefed, the motions are now ripe for adjudication.

DISCUSSION Undisputed Facts

The HASB provides affordable housing services for low and moderate income families, including the renting of apartments and single-family homes. (Affidavit of Tonya Robinson, Manager of Public Housing at HASB (“Robinson Aff.”), ¶ 5.) Plaintiff, Bridget Stevens, applied to HASB for housing on October 23, 2006. (Robinson Aff., ¶ 9; Public Housing Application, p. 2; Deposition of Bridget Stevens (“Pl. Dep.”), pp. 331-32.) On the application, Plaintiff indicated that she had never previously lived in a unit subsidized by a federal program or in a building owned by the HASB. (Robinson Aff., ¶ 12; Public Housing Application, p. 2; Personal Decl., p. 2.) In reality, Plaintiff had received federal housing in the past and had left that apartment with an outstanding balance owed to HASB. (Pl. Dep., pp. 61-62, 93; Robinson Aff., ¶¶ 13-15.) Plaintiff also indicated that her two sons, Alfernando and Armando, would be living as residents in her home. (Personal Decl., p. 1.) As part of the application process, Plaintiff signed an acknowledgment form taking responsibility for the actions of her children, visitors, and guests. (Acknowledgment; Pl. Dep., p. 332.) Plaintiff was aware that the falsification of information could lead to fines; additionally, it could result in the denial of an application, or the termination of an existing lease. (Pl. Dep., p. 91; Robinson Aff., ¶ 14.)

On September 17, 2007, Plaintiff and her two sons were offered a three-bedroom unit at 1265 South Bend Avenue. (Robinson Aff., ¶ 16; September 17, 2007 Letter; Pl. Dep., pp. 112-14.) Plaintiff accepted the offer and executed the Dwelling Lease on September 20, 2007. (Robinson Aff., ¶ 18; Pl. Dep., p. 121.) The Dwelling Lease stipulates that only Plaintiff and her two sons are permitted to reside in the apartment and that each of those three persons are considered members of the household and residents of the dwelling unit. (Dwelling Lease, pp. 1-2.) The Lease also dictates that:

THE RESIDENT AGREES THAT HE OR SHE SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF ALL HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS AND ALL GUESTS OF HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS, AND THAT ANY VIOLATIONS OF THIS LEASE BY SUCH PERSONS SHALL BE GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION OF THIS LEASE AND EVICTION OF ALL HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS FROM THE DWELLING UNIT.

(Dwelling Lease, p. 2.) The lease further provides that guests may not occupy the premises for periods beyond one week without acquiring the written approval of HASB and that “visitors may not occupy the premises for more than fourteen days within a twelve-month period.” (Dwelling Lease, p. 9.) Residents, members of the household, guests, or other persons under their control shall not engage in:

(a) Any Activity that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of HASB's public housing premises by other residents or employees of HASB; or

(b) Any drug-related criminal activity on or off such premises. Any criminal activity in violation of the preceding sentence shall be cause for termination of this Lease and eviction from the Dwelling Unit.

(Dwelling Lease, p. 10.)

Additionally, the Lease expressly includes HASB's “Zero Tolerance” policy, whereby any criminal conduct that is drug-related or that “threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of HASB public housing by other Residents” provides cause for termination of the Lease and eviction, even in the absence of an arrest or conviction. (Dwelling Lease, p. 15.) The Lease clearly provides that “ANY CRIMINAL ACTIVITY OR DRUG-RELATED CRIMINAL ACTIVITY SPECIFIED ABOVE CONSTITUTES A SERIOUS VIOLATION OF MATERIAL TERMS OF THE LEASE AND WILL BE GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION OF THE LEASE AND EVICTION FROM THE DWELLING UNIT.” (Dwelling Lease, p. 15.) If a violation occurs, the Lease provides HASB with discretion to consider, if it so chooses, other circumstances including the seriousness of the offense and the extent of participation by family members. (Dwelling Lease, p. 16.)

On December 25, 2007, Plaintiff's daughter's boyfriend, Chester Higgins, drove Plaintiff's daughter, Ebony Harmon, and Harmon's children to Plaintiff's apartment. (Pl. Dep., pp. 130-31.) Plaintiff knew that Higgins was dating Harmon. (Pl. Dep., p. 85; Deposition of Ebony Harmon, Harmon Dep.,” p. 150.) Harmon claims she told Plaintiff that Higgins would be accompanying her and her children to the apartment. (Harmon Dep., p. 147.) Plaintiff claims that she did not know Higgins was accompanying Harmon and her children to the apartment, and she had never seen Higgins before that day. (Pl. Dep., pp. 129-131; Harmon Dep., p. 44.) However, Plaintiff knew Harmon did not have a car and knew that Harmon and the children were receiving a ride to her apartment. (Harmon Dep., p. 146.) Additionally, Plaintiff did invite Harmon and her grandchildren to her apartment. (Pl. Dep., pp. 128-29.)

After arriving at Plaintiff's apartment, Higgins accompanied Harmon to the front door of the apartment to drop off Plaintiff's grandchildren so that Plaintiff could take them to her mother's to open Christmas presents. (Pl. Dep., p. 131; Harmon Dep., p. 147.) Higgins never entered Plaintiff's apartment. (Pl. Dep., p. 157.) At the time of the shooting incident, the group was not inside Plaintiff's apartment opening presents-contrary to what HASB was initially told by the police. (Robinson Aff., ¶ 20; Pl. Dep., p. 157.)

Meanwhile, Alfernando, one of Plaintiff's sons and a registered member of Plaintiff's household, arrived at Plaintiff's apartment after being driven there by Marcus Henderson, the biological father of Harmon's two children. (Robinson Aff., ¶ 20; Harmon Dep., p. 52; Pl. Dep., p. 134.) Alfernando had flagged Henderson down from the side of the road and asked him for a ride home. (Deposition of Alfernando Stevens, “Alfernando Dep.,” p. 66.) Although there are different accounts about who started the shooting, it is undisputed that Higgins and Henderson both shot at each other in front of Plaintiff's unit. (Pl. Dep., pp. 134-35; Alfernando Dep., pp. 50-51; Harmon Dep., p. 150.) Higgins was shot and taken to the hospital by Harmon. (Harmon Dep. 54, 150; Pl. Dep. 147). Higgins and Henderson had been involved in a physical...

To continue reading

Request your trial
9 cases
  • Greif v. Prescott City Attorney
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • 2 Octubre 2012
    ...represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent." Stevens v. Hous. Auth. of S. Bend, 720 F. Supp. 2d 1013, 1022 (N.D. Ind. 2010) (quotation and citations omitted). Accord, e.g., Carmody v. Vill. of Rockville Ctr. , 661 F. Supp. 2d 299, 329-......
  • Stevens v. Hous. Auth. of South Bend
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • 1 Diciembre 2011
    ...in the sense that she only left because the notice informed her that she had to move within 30 days.Stevens v. Housing Auth. of South Bend, 720 F.Supp.2d 1013, 1020 n. 4 (N.D.Ind.2010). Stevens contends that because her departure was involuntary, a live dispute remains and the case is not m......
  • McNease v. Laldee
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • 18 Marzo 2021
    ...The two cases cited by the Plaintiffs in their responsive brief are not to the contrary. See Stevens v. Housing Authority of South Bend, 720 F. Supp. 2d 1013, 1032 (N.D. Ind. 2010) (dismissing equal protection claim because evicted plaintiff "failed to set forth any evidence that [her landl......
  • Williams v. Roark
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Indiana
    • 18 Enero 2024
    ... ... Leffler-in ... Indiana cause No. 77C01-2009-F6-000546, related to the events ... is not properly before the Court." Stevens ... v. Housing Auth. Of S. Bend , 720 ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT