United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JUDY A. BELL, Plaintiff,
THE UNITED STATE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT; THE CITY OF PASSAIC, NJ; PASSAIC HOUSING AUTHORITY OF PASSAIC; COMMUNITY HEALTH LAW PROJECT OF BLOOMFIELD, NJ; CALDWELL BANKER REAL ESTATE OF CLIFTON, NJ; SALVATION ARMY GOOD SAMARITAN INN; SISTER CATH HOMELESS SHELTER FOR WOMEN; N.J. DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS, PATERSON, N.J. Defendants.
heart of the Complaint of this pro se plaintiff, Ms.
Bell, is a claim that she was discriminatorily denied public
housing. Now before the Court are multiple motions to dismiss
the complaint (ECF nos. 21, 24, 37, 38, 39), to which the
plaintiff has not responded. Because the allegedly wrongful
denials took place in 1989 (at the earliest) and 2009 (at the
latest), this action, filed in 2016, must be dismissed on
statute of limitations grounds
Standard of Review
12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., provides for the dismissal of a
complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the
facts alleged in the complaint are accepted as true and all
reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff.
New Jersey Carpenters & the Trustees Thereof v.
Tishman Const. Corp. of New Jersey, 760 F.3d 297, 302
(3d Cir. 2014). Federal Rule of Procedure 8(a) requires that
the complaint's factual allegations must be sufficient to
raise a plaintiffs right to relief above a speculative level,
so that a claim is "plausible on its face."
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
motions to dismiss in this case invoke the statute of
limitations. That is ordinarily an affirmative defense, but
it may be the subject of motion to dismiss where "the
time alleged in the statement of a claim shows that the cause
of action has not been brought within the statute of
limitations." Fried v. JP Morgan Chase &
Co., 850 F.3d 590, 604 (3d Cir. 2017) (quoting
Schmidt v. Skolas, 770 F.3d 241, 249 (3d Cir.
always, where a plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the
complaint is "to be liberally construed, " and,
"however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
Complaint in this case ("Cplt.", ECF no. 1) was
filed on July 19, 2016. It was accompanied by a Motion
("Motion", ECF no.2), which I will consider as
being part of the Complaint.
Complaint alleges claims of age or disability discrimination
under the "Civil Rights Act of 1967 and the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, " based on the denial of the
plaintiffs application for public housing. It seeks $900
million in damages. (See Motion, passim.)
attached to the Motion suggest that the plaintiff suffers
from a number of medical conditions, was injured in 1989 and
reinjured in 1998, and is receiving Social Security
disability benefits. (ECF no. 2-2) Also attached is a copy of
a dismissed housing discrimination complaint, filed with the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of
Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. ("HUD
Complaint", ECF no. 2-3, pp. 1-6)
defendants' motions assert that the Complaint is
untimely, so I must identify the relevant statute of
limitations. From the context, I believe that the plaintiff
intends to assert claims under Title VI of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d (prohibiting
discrimination in federally assisted programs), and the
Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701 (prohibiting
discrimination on the basis of disability). Claims under
Title VI borrow the two-year New Jersey statute of
limitations for personal injury actions. See Thomas v.
Advance Housing, Inc., 475 F.App'x 405, 406-07 (3d
Cir. 2012) (Title VI claims have same two-year statute of
limitations as personal injury claims in New Jersey); Yip
v. Union Cty. Coll., No. 08-3207, 2009 WL 236949, at *2
(3d Cir. Feb. 3, 2009); Rose v. Seton Hall Univ.,
No. CV 13-7797, 2015 WL 9049438, at *3 (D.N.J. Dec. 15, 2015)
("Claims under Title VI are subject to a two-year
statute of limitations"). Claims under the
Rehabilitation Act have been held subject to either a state
two-year or a federal four-year statute of
to the Complaint, the acts of discrimination occurred on
January 27, 1989, and in "June 200." (Cplt §
III.B) The latter seems to inadvertently omit the last digit
of the year; on that theory, the latest it could be is 2009.
The administrative complaint attached to the Motion alleges
that the discriminatory denials of housing took place in
"1989, 1998, 1999 an[d] the year of 2006." (HUD Cplt.
§ 6a) As for the latest date, then, probably 2006 was
intended; given the most liberal construction, however, the
Complaint alleges an act of discrimination that took place,
at the latest, in 2009.
complaint was not filed until July 19, 2016, well beyond the
statute of limitations. Accordingly, the defendants'