The claims of employees of a housing authority, as individual defendants, are dismissed under the American with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and Fair Housing Act.
The plaintiff, an individual receiving low income housing benefits, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 et seq., alleging the defendants, a housing authority, the executive director for the housing authority and the Section 8 coordinators, unlawfully terminated her lease and denied her federal Section 8 housing choice voucher benefits in violation of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, the Fair Housing Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. Underlying the termination and denial of the Section 8 voucher was an incident where the plaintiff, suffering a mental health issue, locked herself in the apartment with her gas stove turned on. The police were called, and the plaintiff was removed from her apartment and sent for a mental health evaluation. The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania denied the defendants' motion to dismiss in part and granted it in part. The court ruled that claims against the executive director and coordinators of Section 8 housing, in their individual capacities, were dismissed as it is well settled that individuals cannot be sued under the ADA, nor is relief permitted against individuals under the Rehabilitation Act. As it relates to an individual capacity claim under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), the court reasoned that there must be an analysis conducted to determine whether the named individual defendants have the power and capacity to discriminate against the plaintiff outside of their official capacities. In this instance, the court held that that alleged conduct undertaken by the individual defendants could have occurred only in their official capacity as housing authority employees. As such, the plaintiff's claim under the FHA could only be brought against them in their official capacities. As such, the claims under the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and the FHA were dismissed against the Individual defendants. The remaining claims survived the defendants' motion to dismiss.
Case Law Alert - 3rd Qtr 2012