United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
J.T. BLAKNEY PLAINTIFF
MISSISSIPPI REGIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY 8 DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT FILED BY DEFENDANT
GUIROLA, JR. CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
THE COURT is the  Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendant Mississippi Regional Housing Authority VIII (who
states that it was incorrectly identified in the Complaint as
“Mississippi Housing Authority 8”). Plaintiff
J.T. Blakney, who is proceeding pro se, has not
responded to the Motion, and the time for doing so has
expired. Having reviewed the Motion and the applicable law,
the Court is of the opinion that the Motion should be granted
and that Plaintiff Blakney's claims in this action should
be dismissed with prejudice.
addition, the Housing Authority requests that the Court tax
costs against Blakney, but did not support this request with
any law or argument. Taking into account Blakney's
pro se status, the Court does not find this request
well-taken and will deny it.
over ten years, Blakney has resided at Guice Place, an
apartment complex in Gulfport, Mississippi managed by the
Housing Authority. In his Complaint, Blakney states that the
Housing Authority, as his landlord, attempted to have him
sign a “lease that doesn't have in it the
accommodation for people with disabilities which is HUD
regulation that is suppose[d] to be put in the lease.”
(Compl. 1, ECF No. 1). He also states that the Housing
Authority “violated the optional and supplemental
contact information for HUD-assisted housing applicants [by]
never sending my son letter dated August 3, 2015.”
(Id.). The Housing Authority has moved for summary
judgment in its favor on both of these claims, and the Court
will therefore discuss each claim in turn below.
motion for summary judgment shall be granted “if the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In reviewing a
motion for summary judgment, the Court views the evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-movant. Abarca v.
Metro. Transit Auth., 404 F.3d 938, 940 (5th Cir. 2005).
Even so, “[t]he non-movant must go beyond the pleadings
and come forward with specific facts indicating a genuine
issue for trial to avoid summary judgment.” See
Id. Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant
fails to make a showing sufficient to show the existence of
an element essential to that party's case and on which
that party has the burden of proof at trial. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
has not submitted any argument or evidence in opposition to
the Housing Authority's Motion. Nevertheless, the Housing
Authority bears the burden of establishing the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact and, unless it has done so,
the Court may not grant the Motion, regardless of whether any
response was filed. Hibernia Nat'l Bank v.
Administracion Cent. Sociedad Anonima, 776 F.2d 1277,
1279 (5th Cir. 1985). But the Court will not, in the absence
of proof, assume that Blakney could or would prove the
necessary facts. See Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37
F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). Indeed, “although the
pleadings filed by pro se parties are held to ‘less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,
' pro se parties must still comply with the rules of
procedure and make arguments capable of withstanding summary
judgment.” Ogbodiegwu v. Wackenut Corr. Corp.,
202 F.3d 265, *2 (5th Cir. 1999) (citing Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Grant v.
Cellular, 59 F.3d 523, 524 (5th Cir. 1995)); see
also Oviedo v. Lowe's Home Improvement, Inc., 184 F.
App'x 411, 413 (5th Cir. 2006).
omitted section of Blakney's lease form related to
reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. It
remains undisputed that the Housing Authority removed this
section from all leases because this section
“contained language that was repetitive of language
contained in much more extensive policies that [the Housing
Authority] provides [in] a reasonable accommodation
packet” given to Guice Place tenants. (See
Dec. of Jessie Billups ¶9, Ex. 1 to Mot. For Summ. J.,
ECF No. 45-1). “Based on the contents of the packet,
including the reasonable accommodation language in the lease
form was unnecessary.” (Id.). The Housing
Authority has submitted relevant portions of the packet, as
well as Blakney's discovery responses in which he admits
that he received the packet. The failure to include the
reasonable accommodation information in the lease itself does
not violate any HUD or other regulation, and Blakney has not
otherwise alleged that he requested a reasonable
accommodation that was denied. The Housing Authority is
entitled to summary judgment on this claim.
while unclear, to the extent that Blakney is attempting to
state a claim for disparate treatment disability
discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C.
§ 3604, et seq., that claim fails as well. Even
if Blakney could establish that he is disabled, there is no
genuine issue of material fact that the Housing Authority
omitted the reasonable accommodation section from the leases
of all Guice Place tenants, not simply his. See,
e.g., Schwarz v. City of Treasure Island, 544
F.3d 1201, 1216 (11th Cir. 2008) (FHA plaintiff must
“show that he has actually been treated differently
than similarly situated” non-disabled
pertinent part, 42 U.S.C. § 13604 provides that a
federal housing applicant like Blakney has the option to
provide the name, contact information, and “other
relevant information of a family member” with his
housing application. The Housing Authority is thereafter
required “to maintain such information for any
applicants who become tenants of the housing, for the
purposes of facilitating contact . . . with such person . . .
to assist in providing any services or special care for the
tenant and assist in resolving any relevant tenancy issues
arising during the tenancy of such tenant.”
See 42 U.S.C. § 13604(b).
27, 2015, Blakney completed the “Optional and
Supplemental Contact Information for HUD-Assisted Housing
Applicants” form and listed his son Jordan Blakney as
his supplemental contact, including Jordan's address.
(See Dec. of Jessie Billups Ex. F, Ex. 1 to Mot. For
Summ. J., ECF No. 45-1). On August 3, 2015, the Housing
Authority sent Blakney a letter regarding a tenancy issue and
sent a copy of the letter to Jordan at the address provided
by Blakney, but the letter was returned as undeliverable.
(See Id. at Ex. E). Blakney has not disputed any of
this evidence, and his Complaint allegations that the Housing
Authority did not send a copy of the letter to Jordan are
insufficient to overcome summary judgment. See
Abarca, 404 F.3d at 940. That Jordan ultimately did not
receive the letter ...