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United States v. Dawn Properties, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

November 6, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAWN PROPERTIES, INC.; SOUTHERN CROSS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC.; RIDGELAND CONSTRUCTION ONE, LLC; THE BEACH CLUB, LLC; THE BEACH CLUB II, LLC; THE BELMONT OF LAMAR, LLC; GRAND BISCAYNE APTS., LLC; Defendants. SEAINN, LLC THIRD-PARTY Plaintiffs, and SUMMER MISS, LLC; 14510 LEMONYE BOULEVARD, LLC; LEXINGTON MILL MISSISSIPPI OWNER, LLC; INN BY THE SEA HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC. RULE 19, Defendants,
v.
GREG STEWART; NOSIDAM, LLC, D/B/A MADISON HOMES; GERALD JAMES HOPKINS; HARRY BAKER SMITH ARCHITECTS II, LLC; DRACE CONSTRUCTION CORP.; CITY OF RIDGELAND, MISSISSIPPI; CITY OF LONG BEACH MISSISSIPPI; CITY OF HATTIESBURG, MISSISSIPPI; JACKSON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI; HARRISON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI; and JOHN DOES 1-100 THIRD-PARTY, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS FILED BY DEFENDANT RIDGELAND CONSTRUCTION ONE, LLC

LOUIS GUIROLA, Jr., Chief District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT is the [49] Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Ridgeland Construction One, LLC ("Ridgeland"). The United States filed a Response in Opposition to the Motion, to which Ridgeland filed a Reply. Thirdparty Defendant City of Ridgeland, Mississippi, also filed a Response to Ridgeland's Motion. The Court has considered the submissions of the parties and the applicable law and finds that Ridgeland's Motion should be denied because the claims against it were foreseeable at the time of its dissolution.

BACKGROUND

The United States filed this action against multiple defendant owners, developers, and builders of several local residential apartment complexes, including The Lexington apartment complex in Ridgeland, Mississippi. The United States alleges that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It seeks to hold Ridgeland liable since Ridgeland "was an owner and/or developer of The Lexington and participated in the design and construction of the complex." (Compl. 4 (ΒΆ11), ECF No. 1).

Ridgeland Construction One, LLC was a Mississippi LLC when The Lexington was built in 1999 and 2000. After construction of The Lexington was complete, a Delaware LLC, also known as Ridgeland Construction One, LLC, was formed. The Mississippi Ridgeland was merged into the Delaware Ridgeland in December 2001. For purposes of its Motion, Ridgeland does not dispute "that the entity that was merged into it in 2001 was involved in the development of The Lexington" or that "there may be barriers to accessibility at The Lexington." (Def's. Reply 2, ECF No. 101). According to Ridgeland, after the merger, the LLC was sold to a group of independent real estate investors, referred to by Ridgeland in its filings as the "New Managers, " who then sold The Lexington in 2006. Ridgeland thereafter dissolved in 2008.

Ridgeland argues that the United States' Complaint fails to state a claim against it. Specifically, Ridgeland claims that it cannot be sued under Delaware law because the FHA and ADA claims against it were not foreseeable when it dissolved.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

"Normally, in deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, courts must limit their inquiry to the facts stated in the complaint and the documents either attached to or incorporated in the complaint. However, courts may also consider matters of which they may take judicial notice." Lovelace v. Softward Spectrum Inc., 78 F.3d 105, 1017-18 (5th Cir. 1996). In doing so, the Court need not convert the motion into one for summary judgment. United States ex rel. Willard v. Humana Health Plan of Tex. Inc., 336 F.3d 375, 379 (5th Cir. 2003).

When a Court considers matters outside the pleadings and judicially noticed documents, though, the motion to dismiss is converted into a motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004). "A summary judgment motion is properly granted only when, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the record indicates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id. (citation and quotation marks omitted).

DISCUSSION

Ridgeland concedes that its Motion should be treated as a Motion for Summary Judgment. Viewing the evidence before it in the light most favorable to the United States, the Court finds that Ridgeland's Motion should be denied.

I. Ridgeland's Judicial Notice Request

Ridgeland submits four sets of documents in support of its Motion:

(1) documents from the Delaware Secretary of State related to Ridgeland's corporate ...


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