United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Bissoon United States District Judge.
Amos Lee Tate (“Plaintiff”) commenced this
pro se civil action by filing a Motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 1) on May 22, 2018.
Attached to the Motion was a complaint (Doc. 1-1) directed
against “Supervisor HUD anonyminty [sic] name.”
Compl. ¶2. The asserted jurisdictional basis for this
lawsuit is “14th Amendment Due Process [and]
Housing Discrimination Statute/Disability.”
Id. ¶3. Plaintiff's in forma
pauperis motion was granted on May 23, 2018 (Doc. 2),
and the Complaint was docketed that same day (Doc. 4).
Complaint, Plaintiff states that he was granted social
security disability benefits in June 2016, after which time
he applied for “Disability Housing” through HUD.
Compl. ¶4. Plaintiff claimed he inquired, in person, on
several occasions whether “any Disability single homes
or single apartments [were] available, ” but
“[t]hey on each occasion stated NO.” Id.
He then went on the HUD “Disability Website” to
gather more information and found information relating to
HUD's “Disability Voucher Program, ” which,
as he understands it, is “utilize[d] to accommodate,
and necessitate, an individual life style[ ]” by
allowing disabled individuals or their caretakers to
“privately[ ] chose [sic] their own single home or
single apartment.” Id. The remainder of
Plaintiffs' averments are essentially indecipherable. The
Complaint makes a passing reference to “Racial
Profiling, ” and states that someone “refus[ed]
[Plaintiff] to be amended to the Disability Voucher Program .
. . .” Id. It also alludes to Plaintiff
issuing a “Subpoena Duces Tecum” relative to the
city and county “availability records.”
Id. In terms of “relief sought, ” the
Complaint suggests that Plaintiff desires a “Federal
Conference” and “Trial.” Id.
¶5. With respect to “damages, ” the
Complaint simply states, “Intentional Humiliation[, ]
Intentional Distress[, ] [and] Intentional Housing Discomfort
(No where to go)[.]” Id.
31, 2018, Plaintiff filed an additional document, styled
“Administrative Discriminatory Review Appealant [sic]
Discriminatory Review” (Doc. 6). In this document,
Plaintiff lists himself as “Plaintiff” and
“Housing Urban Development” as
“Defendant.” Id. He states that he went
to the HUD office in Erie and was placed on the “SSID
Housing list.” Id. Thereafter, he checked with
the office about “suitable Disability Housing”
and was informed that they had no available apartments or
single houses. Id. On one particular occasion, he
was informed that a single room apartment would be available
in Meadville, Pennsylvania in October 2016, and that he was
“first on the list.” When Plaintiff later
returned to inquire about housing, however, he was told
“they all [had] been taken.” Id.
Plaintiff's May 31st filing purports to assert
two “causes of action.” The first is entitled
“discriminatory prejudice acts” and states that
certain unidentified persons have “been telling
[Plaintiff] an array of deceitful lies, and derogatory
comments, for approximately two years, to hinder and
misdirect [him].” Id. Plaintiff quotes these
unidentified individuals has having stated, “Go down
the street, we have nothing for you, ” and
“African Americans go down the street, to the Housing
Authority, and get in the projects.” Id. The
second cause of action, designated “Preamble, ”
merely states “government statute law circumvent [sic]
disability housing voucher law.” Id.
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court
must review his pleading in accordance with the amendments
promulgated in the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321
(1996). Under Section 1915(e) of the PLRA, the
Court is required to screen Plaintiff's Complaint and
dismiss the within action if the Complaint fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §
reviewing complaints under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), a
federal court applies the same standard that is applied to
motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). D'Agostino v. CECOM RDEC, 436
Fed.Appx. 70, 72 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Tourscher v.
McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999)).
“Thus, we are required to ‘accept all factual
allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any
reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be
entitled to relief.'” Id. at 72-73
(quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d
224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). A complaint must be dismissed
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) if it
does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). To
meet this standard, the complaint must contain factual
allegations that raise a right to relief above the
speculative level. Id. At 555. Accordingly, mere
“labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of actions will not do.”
independent of this obligation is the Court's duty to
ensure in the first instance that it has subject matter
jurisdiction over the matter in controversy. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at
any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court
must dismiss the action.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)
(recognizing the lack of subject-matter jurisdiction as a
defense under Rule 12). A court's scope of review in this
regard is shaped by whether the complaint is subject to a
facial or factual jurisdictional attack. See CNA v.
United States, 535 F.3d 132, 139 (3d Cir. 2008) (where
district court analyzes a motion under Rule 12(b)(1),
“its first task is to classify the [defendant's]
motion as either a factual attack or a facial
attack.”). A facial attack “concerns ‘an
alleged pleading deficiency' whereas a factual attack
concerns ‘the actual failure of [a plaintiff's]
claims to comport [factually] with the jurisdictional
prerequisites.'” Id. (alterations in the
original) (citing U.S. ex rel. Atkinson v. Pa.
Shipbuilding Co., 473 F.3d 506, 514 (3d Cir. 2007)).
of the procedural posture of this case, the Court is
concerned only with a possible facial deficiency in
Plaintiff's pleading. In undertaking its analysis, the
Court “must only consider the allegations of the
complaint and documents referenced therein and attached
thereto, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Nichole Med. Equip. & Supply, Inc. v. TriCenturion,
Inc., 694 F.3d 340, 347 (3d Cir. 2012) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). Although the Court
must construe the facts alleged in the Plaintiff's favor,
it need not accept bald assertions or legal conclusions as
true. Batchelor v. Rose Tree Media School Dist.,
Civil Action No. 11-6733, 2013 WL 1776076 at *3 (E.D. Pa.
Mar. 28, 2013) (citing authority).
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, his Complaint must
be “liberally construed.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted). The Court must “apply the
applicable law, irrespective of whether [Plaintiff] has
mentioned it by name.” Higgins v. Beyer, 293
F.3d 683, 688 (3d Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted). Notwithstanding this relaxed
pleading-standard, however, “pro se litigants still
must allege sufficient facts in their complaints to support a
claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704
F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).
a waiver, sovereign immunity shields the Federal Government
and its agencies from suit.” F.D.I.C. v.
Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994). Furthermore,
“sovereign immunity advances a jurisdictional bar . . .
which the court may raise sua sponte.”
United States v. Bein, 214 F.3d 408, 412 (3d Cir.
2000) (citations omitted). In this case, many of the claims
that Plaintiff might potentially try to assert are barred by
sovereign immunity. Assuming that sovereign immunity is not a
bar, Plaintiff's Complaint still fails to plausibly state
any claim upon which relief could be granted.
crux of Plaintiff's grievance appears to be his inability
to secure housing through the Housing Choice Voucher
(“HCV”) program established under Section 8 of
the United States Housing Act of 1937 (“USHA”),
as amended, 42 U.S.C. §1437, et seq. Congress
authorized the HCV program “[f]or the purpose of aiding
low-income families in obtaining a decent place to live and
of promoting economically mixed housing.” Id.
§1437f(a). The program is overseen by the United States
Department of Housing and Urban Development
(“HUD”) and administered by local agencies in
accordance with federal guidelines. See Henry v. City of
Erie, 728 F.3d 275, 277 (3d Cir. 2013). “In Erie,
the local administering agency is the Housing Authority of
the City of Erie (“HACE”).” Id. As
one federal court recently explained:
The Section 8 program is a tenant-based, housing-choice
voucher program (HCV program) authorized under the USHA. With
respect to the HCV program, the USHA authorizes the Secretary
of HUD “to enter into annual contributions contracts
with public housing agencies, ” who, in turn,
“may enter into contracts to make assistance payments
to owners of existing dwelling units in accordance
with” the HCV Program. 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(b)(1).
“The HCV program is generally administered by . . .
PHAs [public housing authorities]. HUD provides housing
assistance funds to the PHA. HUD also provides funds for PHA
administration of the program.” 24 C.F.R. §
982.1(a)(1). Thus, the HCV program is funded by HUD but
administered by local PHAs. 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(b)(1). To
participate in the program, families apply directly to the
PHA. If the PHA approves the tenancy, PHA then enters into a
contract “with the owner [of the rental unit] to make
rent subsidy payments on behalf of the family.” 24
C.F.R. §982.1(a)(2). The family ...