United States District Court, D. Connecticut
HAILEE R. DeSOUZA, Plaintiff
LEANNE KENNEDY, Defendant.
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
wrongdoing in connection with his state court eviction
settlement, pro se Plaintiff Hailee DeSouza sues
Leanne Kennedy, a mediator for the State of Connecticut
Housing Court in both her official and individual capacities
for alleged deprivation of his civil and constitutional
rights. Specifically, he claims (i) violations of the First,
Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments (count one) (ECF No.
22 at 12-13), (ii) violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights
of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d (count two) (Id. at
13-14), (iii) conspiracy to interfere with his civil rights
in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2)(3) (Id. at
14) (count three) (Id. at 14), (iv) denial of equal
protection under the law in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
1981 (count four) (Id. at 15), (v) racial
discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000a-2
(count five) (Id. at 15-16), (vi) interference,
coercion or intimidation in violation of the Fair Housing Act
(the “FHA”), 42 U.S.C. § 3617 (count six)
(Id. at 16), (vii) interference with his rights
under the FHA in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3631 (count
seven) (Id. at 17), and (viii) conspiracy to violate
his rights in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 241 (count eight)
(Id. at 17-18).
has moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint under Rules
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. As more fully explained below, I grant the motion
to dismiss because I find: (i) Plaintiff's claims in
counts one, three, four, five, and six against Defendant in
her official capacity are barred by the Eleventh Amendment,
and (ii) Plaintiff's claims in counts one, three, four,
five and six against Defendant in her individual capacity are
barred by quasi-judicial immunity. Each count in
Plaintiff's complaint also fails to state a claim.
is a resident of Park West Apartments, Inc. (“Park
West”), a “[m]ultifamily [h]ousing [c]ommunity
located in Vernon, CT.” (ECF No. 22 at 2.) Beginning in
2014, Park West commenced an eviction action against
Plaintiff in the Connecticut Superior Court. (Id. at
4) On August 29, 2014, at the Rockville-Vernon Superior Court
in Vernon, Park West and Plaintiff appeared before the
Defendant, a housing mediator, in a mediation to resolve Park
West's eviction action against Plaintiff. (Id.
at 4-7.) Both parties in the eviction action were represented
by counsel. (Id. at 4.) According to the Plaintiff,
the Defendant coerced him into signing a stipulation in the
eviction case by (i) falsely alleging that a judge had
ordered Plaintiff to do so, (Id. at 5, 11), (ii)
misrepresenting the judge's availability to adjudicate
the case, (Id.), and (iii) employing fraud and
intimidation. (Id. at 9.) After he allegedly signed
the stipulation against his will, Plaintiff claims Park West
had an advantage in later proceedings in the eviction action.
(Id. at 9.) Furthermore, on account of
Defendant's actions, Plaintiff alleges he was forced to
participate in those subsequent court proceedings.
(Id. at 10.) Finally, as a result of Defendant's
actions, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered emotional
distress, stress, anxiety, loss of sleep, extreme heartburn,
ulcers, mental anguish, various heart issues, and that he
required “various treatments with drugs and
medications.” (Id. at 13.)
“case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the district court
lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate
it.” Nike, Inc. v. Already, LLC, 663 F.3d 89,
94 (2d Cir. 2011). The “plaintiff asserting subject
matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a
preponderance of the evidence that it exists.”
Luckkett v. Bure, 290 F.3d 493, 497 (2d. Cir. 2002).
“In resolving a motion to dismiss for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), a district court . .
. may refer to evidence outside the pleadings.”
Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d
Cir. 2000). The court construes the complaint liberally and
accepts all factual allegations as true. Ford v. D.C. 37
Union Local 1549, 579 F.3d 187, 188 (2d Cir. 2009).
considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court
construes the complaint liberally, “accepting all
factual allegations in the complaint as true, and drawing all
reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.”
Chambers v. Time Warner, Inc., 2 F.3d 147');">282 F.3d 147, 152 (2d
Cir. 2002). A court may allow a case to proceed only if the
complaint pleads “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Id.
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 681 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 554-55).
When a plaintiff submits a complaint pro se, the
court must construe the allegations liberally, raising
“the strongest arguments [they] suggest.”
Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d. 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007). A
pro se plaintiff, however, still must meet the
standard of facial plausibility. See Hogan v.
Fischer, 738 F.3d 509, 515 (2d Cir. 2013)(“[A]
pro se complaint must state a plausible claim for
relief.”) (citing Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d
66, 73 (2d Cir. 2009)).
argues that Plaintiff lacks standing because he has not
suffered an injury. “Whether a claimant has standing is
the threshold question in every federal case, determining the
power of the court to entertain the suit. The requirements
for a plaintiff to establish standing are well-settled:
first, plaintiffs must show that they have suffered an injury
in fact that is both concrete in nature and particularized to
them. Second, the injury must be fairly traceable to
defendants' conduct. Third, the injury must be
redressable by removal of defendants' conduct.”
Kalson v. U.S., 159 Fed.Appx. 326, 327 (2d Cir.
2005). “To qualify as a constitutionally sufficient
injury-in-fact, the asserted injury must be ‘concrete
and particularized, ' as well as ‘actual or
imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.” Student
Members of Same v. Rumsfeld, 321 F.Supp.2d 388, 393 (D.
Conn. 2004)(quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife,
504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992)). When standing is raised at the
pleading stage “all facts averred by the plaintiffs
must be taken as true for purposes of the standing inquiry,
just as for any other issue presented. . . . As a result,
general factual allegations of injury resulting from the
statute and conduct challenged may suffice to establish the
plaintiff's standing.” Id.
has pled enough facts to suggest that he has been injured by
Defendant's conduct and thus that he has standing.
According to Plaintiff, Defendant's alleged coercion,
misrepresentation, intimidation, and racially-motivated
discrimination resulted, among other things, in various types
of emotional distress. Although the allegations of emotional
distress are somewhat vague, I find, drawing all ...