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Hyland v. County of Hawaii & Community Development

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

September 30, 2016

LANRIC HYLAND, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICE OF HOUSING & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO DISMISS SUIT WITHOUT PREJUDICE

          Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Lanric Hyland's (“Plaintiff”) Motion to Dismiss Suit Without Prejudice (“Motion”), filed on August 15, 2016. [Dkt. no. 74.] On August 17, 2016, this Court issued an entering order informing the parties that it was inclined to grant Plaintiff's Motion and to dismiss the case without prejudice, with each party to bear its own fees and costs (“Inclination”). [Dkt. no. 75.]

         Defendant Hawaii Affordable Properties, Inc. (“HAPI”) and Defendant Ainakea Senior Residences LLLP (“Ainakea”) filed their respective objections to the Inclination on August 18, 2016 and August 29, 2016.[1] [Dkt. nos. 76, 77.] The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule LR7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i (“Local Rules”). After careful consideration of the Motion, supporting and opposing documents, and the relevant legal authority, Plaintiff's Motion is HEREBY GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff originally filed his “Verified Complaint of Lanric Hyland; Complaint for Complaint for [sic] Declaratory & Injunctive Relief; Appeal from Declaratory Petition” (“Complaint”) in state court on August 11, 2015, and the County Defendants removed it to this district court. [Notice of Removal, filed 12/9/15 (dkt. no. 1), Decl. of Melody Parker, Exh. A.] The factual and procedural background of this case is set forth in this Court's March 16, 2016 Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants Office of Housing & Community Development, County of Hawaii's Motion to Dismiss; and Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant Hawaii Affordable Properties, Inc.'s Substantive Joinder (“3/16/16 Order”). [Dkt. no. 47.] In the Complaint, Plaintiff attempted to bring various claims - on his own behalf and on behalf of others - arising from events at Ainakea Senior Residences (“ASR”), the low income housing project where he resides.

         In the 3/16/16 Order, this Court dismissed the Complaint in its entirety, with limited leave to amend. Specifically, this Court dismissed the following claims with prejudice: Plaintiff's claims against HAPI related to the increase in the ASR contract rent, the security deposit, and Plaintiff's portion of the rent; and the portion of the claims that Plaintiff was attempting to bring on behalf of other current and former ASR tenants (“Representative Claims”) against HAPI regarding the increases in the contract rent, security deposits, and the tenants' portions of the rent. This Court dismissed the following claims without prejudice: Plaintiff's claims against the County Defendants and Ainakea challenging the increases in the contract rent and the security deposit; Plaintiff's claims against all Defendants regarding lease termination; and Plaintiff's equal protection claim against all Defendants. This Court also dismissed all other portions of the Representative Claims without prejudice, stating that it would not address the merits of those claims unless Plaintiff retained counsel. [3/16/16 Order at 21-23.] In addition, this Court noted that, although Plaintiff apparently intended to do so, the Complaint did not actually allege claims against the County Defendants and Ainakea challenging the increase in his portion of the rent. However, this Court granted Plaintiff leave to include such claims in his amended complaint. [Id. at 21-22.]

         The 3/16/16 Order directed Plaintiff to file a motion seeking leave to file an amended complaint by May 2, 2016. [Id. at 24.] On May 2, 2016, Plaintiff filed a document titled “First Amended Complaint, ” [dkt. no. 54, ] which the magistrate judge construed as a motion for leave to file an amended complaint (“Motion for Leave”). [Dkt. no. 56.] On June 9, 2016, the magistrate judge issued the Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (“6/9/16 Order”). [Dkt. no. 63.]

         The magistrate judge construed the Motion for Leave as raising five “areas of concern” and three claims asserting constitutional violations. [6/9/16 Order at 5.] The five areas of concern were: “security deposits, tenant grievances, tenant organizations, redetermination of contract rent, and termination of tenancy.” [Id. (citing Motion for Leave at ¶¶ 20, 49-78).] The three claims were:

(1) denial of due process because his lease could be terminated for a rule violation without due process; (2) denial of equal protection because he is treated differently than the tenants at other senior housing projects; (3) denial of assembly and association because he is not allowed to form a tenants organization.

[Id. (citing Motion for Leave at ¶¶ 102-12).] Plaintiff again attempted to allege the Representative Claims based on alleged injuries to other tenants. The magistrate judge denied the Motion for Leave as to those claims, concluding that they were futile because Plaintiff was still pro se. [Id. at 6-7.]

         The magistrate judge denied the Motion for Leave as to all of the proposed claims regarding security deposits: the claim arising from the increase in the amount of the 2015-2016 security deposit; the claim that the manner in which the security deposit was determined violated Hawaii's Residential Landlord-Tenant Code; the equal protection claim regarding the determination; and the claim alleging that the determination violated the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) regulations. [Id. at 7-12.] The magistrate judge also denied the Motion for Leave as to Plaintiff's claim based on Defendants' alleged failure to comply with HUD regulations regarding tenant grievances. [Id. at 12-13.] The magistrate judge concluded that all of these claims were futile.

         The Motion for Leave included various claims arising from the ASR's tenants' inability to form a tenant organization. These claims included: an alleged violation of 24 C.F.R. § 245.100; a claim that the different treatment of ASR tenants and tenants of the Waimea Elderly Housing Project violated Plaintiff's equal protection rights; and alleged violations of Plaintiff's constitutional right to free assembly and association. The magistrate judge concluded that these claims were futile. [Id. at 13-15.]

         The Motion for Leave also included a claim against Defendant Office of Housing & Community Development based on alleged contractual violations in the calculation of the contract rent and a claim that Plaintiff's due process rights were violated because he could not participate in the determination of the contract rent. The magistrate judge denied the Motion for Leave as to these claims, concluding that they were futile. [Id. at 17-20.]

         Finally, the Motion for Leave included a due process claim based on a threat of termination of Plaintiff's lease (“Lease Termination Claim”). When this Court dismissed the corresponding claim in the original Complaint, this Court concluded that, although Plaintiff arguably pled sufficient facts to establish a credible threat of lease termination for a rule violation, the Complaint did not allege that Plaintiff intends to engage in a course of conduct that is arguably affected with a constitutional interest, but is prohibited by ASR's rules. [3/16/16 Order at 17-18.] Plaintiff's Motion for Leave alleged that he wants to buy and use a small grill, but that it is prohibited by ASR rules, and he alleged that the prohibition is a violation of his right to acquire and possess property under Article 1, section 2 of the Hawai`i State Constitution. The magistrate judge concluded ...


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