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DeSouza v. Park West Apartments, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 14, 2018

HAILEE R. DESOUZA, Plaintiff,
v.
PARK WEST APARTMENTS, INC. et al. Defendant.

          RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.

         I. Introduction

         Hailee R. DeSouza (“DeSouza”) brings this suit[1] against his landlord, Park West Apartments, Inc., and The Community Builders, Inc., the nonprofit corporation that controls it (collectively “Park West”).[2] DeSouza chiefly claims that Park West racially discriminated and retaliated against him by repeatedly attempting to evict him. He also claims that Park West violated his privacy rights by informing other tenants of the eviction proceedings and that Park West's former property manager, Kim Doughtie, falsely accused him of sexually assaulting her daughter and granddaughter. He sets out claims against Park West for: (i) race discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) (Counts 1, 2, and 3); (ii) violation of the First Amendment (Count 4); (iii) violation of the Fourth Amendment (Count 5); (iv) interference, coercion or intimidation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617 of the FHA (Count 6); (v) discrimination and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count 7); (vi) violation of the Privacy Rights Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a (“Privacy Act”) (Count 8); and (vii) common law slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress for Ms. Doughtie's alleged false sexual assault allegation[3] (Count 9). (See ECF No. 100-2 at 17-19).

         Park West now moves for summary judgment on all counts. (ECF No. 128). For the reasons set forth below, Park West's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. The motion is denied with respect to the portion of DeSouza's retaliation claims under the FHA concerning Park West's filing of an affidavit of noncompliance in March of 2015 (Counts 1, 2, 3, 6), and granted with respect to the remainder of his claims.

         II. Factual Background

         a. Eviction Proceedings

         The following facts, which are taken from the parties' Local Rule 56(a) Statements and the exhibits, are undisputed unless otherwise indicated. DeSouza applied to rent and received a “Section 8 assisted two bedroom apartment with a basement at Park West” “approximately [thirteen] years ago.” (ECF No. 130, Defendant's Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement (“Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt.”) at ¶ 4); ECF No. 151-1, Plaintiff's Local Rule 56(a)2 Statement (“Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt.”) at ¶ 4.) Although DeSouza received several “KAPA letters”-i.e., pre-termination notices provided in cases of lease violations- and notices to quit prior to the events underlying this case, he remained in his apartment continuously through the beginning of 2014. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶¶ 9-10, 13, 41; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶¶ 9-10, 13, 41.)[4]

         In January of 2014, DeSouza attained a position with “Swift Worldwide as a senior project engineer.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 6; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 6.) He retained this position until April of 2014. (Id.) Given his change in income upon attaining this position, DeSouza had to “complete an interim recertification” to retain his Section 8 subsidy. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 7; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 7.) Here, the parties' accounts diverge. Park West contends that DeSouza did not complete the interim recertification process, and that it issued a KAPA letter to him “on or about March 3, 2014 advising him that he had to recertify in accordance with his lease requirements within 35 days” to prevent the termination of his rental agreement. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 8.) DeSouza avers that the interim recertification process “only require[d] him to report his new income” and that he performed this obligation. (Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 8.) DeSouza did not take any further steps to complete the recertification in accordance with Park West's directives within the thirty-five day period; Park West subsequently issued him a Notice to Quit on April 22, 2014. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶¶ 11-12; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶¶ 11-12.)

         On June 12, 2014, DeSouza received an eviction notice for failing to complete the recertification process in violation of his lease. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 14; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 14.) He retained a lawyer, Edward Taiman, to represent him in the eviction action. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 15; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 15.) The parties' accounts once again split off regarding the subsequent eviction proceedings. Park West avers that the parties successfully mediated the matter with a housing court mediator on August 29, 2014, resulting in the execution of an Agreement providing, among other things, that DeSouza agreed to “complete the recertification process.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶¶ 17-18.) DeSouza recounts a more complex version of events, averring that Park West conspired with the housing mediator-who falsely posed as the Superior Court judge's secretary-in coercing DeSouza to sign the stipulated agreement. (Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶¶ 17-18 (averring that DeSouza “was acting on coerced-induced-made-to-believe orders as coming from defendants [sic] criminally and [falsely] imaginary created non-existent UFO eviction court judge with unlawful fabricated inducted [sic] orders, with already falsely made-up crafted instructions, already falsely made-up crafted directives, of defendants[‘] purported stipulation agreement” (emphases omitted) (some internal quotation marks omitted).)[5] In any event, the Stipulated Agreement-which was signed by each of the parties-provided in relevant part that DeSouza “agrees to complete the recertification process” on “September 3, 2014” and that “[b]oth parties shall be respectful and courteous to one another.” (See ECF No. 130-8, Exhibit H, at 2 (“Stipulated Agreement”).) The latter language was added based on DeSouza's recommendation. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 19; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 19.)

         The parties' September 3, 2014 recertification meeting went poorly. During the meeting, Park West staff asked several times whether DeSouza was recording them. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 21; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 21.) DeSouza responded several times that “I do not answer to you” and refused to confirm one way or another whether he was recording the meeting.[6] (Id.; see also ECF No. 130-9 at 1, Exhibit I (“Exhibit I”) (audio recording of the proceeding filed manually with the Court).) Park West subsequently filed with the Superior Court “an Affidavit of non-compliance with the stipulation on September 4, 2014.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 22; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 22.) The affidavit noted as follows:

On August 27, 2014[7] [the] parties entered into a stipulated agreement. The parties agreed that a recertification will [sic] take place on Wednesday, September 3, 2014 between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. Both parties shall be respectful and courteous to one another. The defendant came to the plaintiff's office for recertification at the time stated in paragraph 4 [of the Stipulated Agreement]. It was noticed that recording devices were being used by him and his son. We asked if we were being recorded. Mr. [DeSouza] son [sic] nodded his head yes but Mr. [DeSouza] [sic] refused to tell us. He said I do not answer to you over and over. He became loud, volatile and scary. We fear him [sic] and asked him to leave.

(ECF No. 130-10, Exhibit J at 2 (“First Affidavit of Noncompliance”).) A “hearing was held [on the matter] before Superior Court Judge Rupal Shah on September 12, 2014.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 23; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 23.) Judge Shah reserved decision at the conclusion of the hearing and never issued an order. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 25; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 26.)

         On December 16, 2014, “as [DeSouza] still had not completed his recertification, . . . he was served with a Notice of Intent to Remove Subsidy, which notified [DeSouza] that he would be required to pay a [Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”)] approved market rent for his unit.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 26; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 26.; see also ECF No. 130-12, Exhibit L at 2 (“Notice of Intent to Remove Subsidy”).) Temporary Staffing Resources (“TSR”), which had helped DeSouza obtain employment in November of 2014, “ultimately verified his income on or about December 29, 2014 via [an] Employment Verification form sent by Park West to TSR.”[8] (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 28; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 28.) Since the information supplied by TSR demonstrated that DeSouza “was earning $69 per hour, Park West advised [him] on January 14, 2015, that his HUD subsidy had been terminated effective December 1, 2014, and [that] his new rent would be $1352.00 per month.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 29; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 29.) While Park West contends that the “HUD rent schedule indicates that the unsubsidized rent for a two-bedroom unit with a basement is $1352.00 per month” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 30 (citing ECF No. 130-15, Exhibit O at 2(HUD rent schedule for low income housing indicating that the “Rent Per Unit” for a “2 Bedroom, w/ Basement” apartment was $1, 352))), DeSouza argues that he should have been able to rent the unit for $989 per month-the rate that he contends was advertised to the general public. (See Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 30 (citing ECF No. 151-8, Plaintiff's Exhibit (“Pl.'s Exh.”) 54 at 12 (advertising “2 BR Market With Basement $989/month H/HW Included”)).)

         After DeSouza refused to pay the $1, 352 rent, Park West subsequently “filed a second Affidavit of noncompliance with the [Stipulated Agreement] on March 11, 2015” “[d]ue to his failure to pay the increased rent, and because he had repeatedly referred to Ms. Doughtie in grossly disparaging terms. . . .”[9] (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶¶ 31-32; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶¶ 31-32.)[10] In the affidavit, Park West avers that DeSouza's use of discourteous language directed toward itself and Kim Doughtie, a Park West manager, violated part five of the parties' Stipulated Agreement. (See ECF No. 130-17 at 2, Exhibit Q, Affidavit of Noncompliance (“Second Affidavit of Noncompliance”).) Park West noted in the affidavit that DeSouza had used various epithets to refer to it and had, amongst other discourtesies, compared Ms. Doughtie to Charles Manson and Susan Smith, a woman who had drowned her two young children in South Carolina.[11] (See id.)

         Judge Prats of the Superior Court subsequently held hearings on March 27, 2015 and April 24, 2015. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 33; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 33.) She issued a Memorandum of Decision on June 22, 2015. (See ECF No. 130-18, Exhibit R, Memorandum of Decision In Re: Affidavit of Noncompliance Dated August 29, 2014 (“Memorandum of Decision”).) In this memorandum, she found “that [Park West] ha[d] proved by a preponderance of the evidence that [DeSouza] did in fact violate paragraph three of the [Stipulated Agreement], by not paying the use and occupancy at the higher rate once he no longer qualified for the [Section 8] subsidy.” (Id. at 3.) She noted, however, that Park West had proven a violation of paragraph four of the Stipulated Agreement-i.e., the paragraph requiring him to complete the recertification process-“only in part, because it was not clear from the record that Mr. DeSouza's failure to complete the recertification process was truly willful.” (Id.) With regard to the increased rent of $1, 352 per month charged to DeSouza, Judge Prats concluded that such rent was not excessive, as DeSouza had argued, but rather in accordance with the rent schedules proffered by Park West. (See Id. at 3-4.) She therefore concluded that DeSouza was obligated to pay that amount for the months he was employed.[12] (Id. at 4.) Judge Prats found that Park West had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that DeSouza had committed any other violations of the Stipulated Agreement. (Id. at 5.)

         DeSouza paid the outstanding arrearage to Park West in July of 2015 in compliance with Judge Prats' order. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 37; Pl.'s 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 37.) Since that time, DeSouza has continued to live in his apartment.[13] (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶¶ 41-43; Pl.'s 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶¶ 41-43.) He currently pays only $25.00 per month for utilities and nothing in rent. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶¶ 43-44; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶¶ 43-44.)

         b. DeSouza's HUD Complaints

         On February 18, 2014, DeSouza filed a complaint with HUD offices in Washington, DC, and Boston, Massachusetts. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 45; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 45.) The complaint recounted a variety of DeSouza's disputes with Park West staff, alleging among other things that Park West management had informed him that they wanted him to leave his apartment. (See ECF No. 130-21, Exhibit U, February 18, 2014 Complaint to HUD (“February Complaint”).) Park West avers that it was “not copied on the February 18, 2014 complaint, and [that] there is no evidence that [it was] put on notice of the complaint prior to sending [DeSouza] the Notice to Quit.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 46.) DeSouza denies this statement. (Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 46.) DeSouza sent another copy of this letter to HUD offices in Washington and Boston on March 18, 2014. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶¶ 47-48; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶¶ 47-48; ECF No. 130-22, Exhibit V, March 18, 2014 Complaint to HUD (“March Complaint”).) As with the previous complaint, the parties dispute whether Park West received a copy of the letter prior to issuing its notice to quit to DeSouza in April of 2014. (Compare Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 49 (averring that Park West was not copied on the March 18, 2014 letter and did not receive a copy prior to issuing its notice to quit to DeSouza) with Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 49 (denying that proposition).)

         On April 23, 2014-the day he received a notice to quit-DeSouza “mailed a document containing three questions” to various HUD personnel and Park West. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 50; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 50.) Two of the questions concerned Park West's conduct during the recertification process, while the other asked about Park West employees' ability to smoke in HUD rental offices. (See ECF No. 130-23, Exhibit W at 2 (“April Letter”).) On the same day, according to Park West, DeSouza “mailed a letter to [Park West] Attorney Neil Paul advising him, for the first time, of the February 18, 2014 complaint to HUD and the March 18, 2014 follow-up letter.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 51.) DeSouza denies this contention, averring that he has “never mailed [any of his HUD complaints] dated 02/18/2014 or 03/18/2014 to [Park West's] eviction atty. Neil Paul whatsoever.” (Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 51.)

         “Between October 8, 2014 and October 11, 2014, ” DeSouza filed either four or five more complaints with HUD and various other parties, including Representative Joe Courtney and the Chief Architect of Park West. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 52 (averring that he filed four such complaints); Pl.'s 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 52 (averring that he filed five such complaints).) The complaints chiefly alleged that Park West violated DeSouza's right to privacy by informing other tenants about the eviction proceedings against him. (See ECF No. 130-25, Exhibit Y (“October Complaints”).)

         c. Other Relevant Conduct

         DeSouza testified in his deposition to several other incidents. He stated that “[i]n August, 2014, a young girl who is also a resident of Park West allegedly said to [him] “why are you here? Park West doesn't want you here. So why you here?” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 53; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 53.) He also alleged separately that “another tenant was told about the eviction proceedings against him.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 54; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 54.) Finally, DeSouza stated that “[o]n or about July 27, 2014, . . . Ms. Doughtie told the police that [DeSouza] [had] raped her daughter and her 10 or 20 month old granddaughter and left them in a pool of blood.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. at ¶ 55; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. at ¶ 55.)

         d. Plaintiff's Complaint

         As noted previously, DeSouza sets out five counts against Park West based upon race discrimination and retaliation; four of them fall under the FHA while the fifth invokes 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (See ECF No. 100-2 at 17-19.) He also alleges that Park West violated his First Amendment rights by discriminating against him based upon his race and by retaliating against him. (Id. at 18.) He avers that Park West violated his Fourth Amendment rights by attempting to evict him “with the sole intent to destabilize [his] household and security . . . .” (Id.) DeSouza further claims that Park West violated his rights under the Privacy Act by informing other tenants of the eviction proceedings against him. (Id. at 19.) Finally, he sets out one count of slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Park West based upon Ms. Doughtie's alleged accusations that he sexually assaulted her daughter and granddaughter. (Id.)

         III. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate only when the moving party “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 making that determination, a court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the opposing party.” Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). “A fact is material if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d 184, 202 (2d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). The moving party bears the burden “of showing that no genuine factual dispute exists . . ., and in assessing the record to determine whether there is a genuine issue as to any material fact, the court is required to resolve all ambiguities and draw all factual inferences” in favor of the non-moving party. Cronin v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 46 F.3d 196, 203 (2d Cir. 1995).[14]

         IV. Discussion

         a. Racial Discrimination Claims (Counts 1, 2, 3 and 7)[15]

         DeSouza advances three claims of racial discrimination under the FHA[16] and one under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (ECF No. 100-2 at 17-19.) I begin with the FHA racial discrimination claims. The FHA prohibits “discriminat[ion] against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race. . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b). Courts evaluate FHA discrimination claims under the “McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework.” Mitchell v. Shane, 350 F.3d 39, 47 (2d Cir. 2003). Under that framework, “once a plaintiff has established a prima facie case of discrimination, the burden shifts to the defendant to assert a legitimate, nondiscriminatory rationale for the challenged decision.” Id. (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 702-03 (1973)). “If the defendant makes such a showing, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to demonstrate that discrimination was the real reason for the defendant's action . . . . Summary judgment is appropriate if no reasonably jury could find that the defendant's actions were motivated by discrimination.” Id. (internal citation omitted).

         To set out a prima facie case of discrimination under the FHA, “a plaintiff must show that: (1) he is a member of a protected class; (2) that the defendant took adverse action against him; and (3) that the adverse action took place under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination.” Mazzocchi v. Windsor Owners Corp., 204 F.Supp.3d 583, 615 (S.D.N.Y. 2016). The parties do not dispute that DeSouza, as an African American, is a member of a protected class. Although the parties differ regarding whether DeSouza suffered an adverse action[17], I need not resolve this dispute given DeSouza's failure to present a shred of evidence that any such adverse action took place under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination. A party may establish an inference of discrimination in several ways. First, the Second Circuit has held, in interpreting Title VII, [18] that a party may raise such an inference by demonstrating that she has been treated “less favorably than a similarly situated [party] outside [her] protected group.” Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 39 (2d Cir. 2000). The Second Circuit has also noted that a plaintiff may satisfy “this element of the prima facie case by showing direct evidence of discriminatory animus, such as ‘remarks made by decisionmakers that could be viewed as reflecting [such] animus.'” Henry v. New York State, 842 F.Supp.2d 530, 553 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (construing Title VII) (quoting Chertkova v. Conn. Gen. Life Ins. Co., 92 F.3d 81, 91 (2d Cir. 1996)).

         Since DeSouza does not argue that he was treated less favorably than other similarly situated parties outside of his protected group (see, e.g. ECF No. 151-1 at 1-2 (conceding that there were other African American tenants at Park West), 14 (noting that he lacks knowledge as to Park West's eviction practices regarding “Caucasian, Hispanic, and African American tenants”)), his discrimination claim rests upon his argument that certain statements made by Park West personnel evidence racial animus. (See ECF No. 151-2 at 3 (contending that Park West's “own emails” constituted evidence “of unlawful eviction plots and derogatory statements about [Desouza].”). DeSouza cites the following emails from Park West personnel as evidence of discriminatory animus:

• An email exchange that took place on April 24, 2014 between Ms. Doughtie, Nancye[19] Frank, a HUD Project Manager, and Tony Berthod, a director for Park West, concerning DeSouza's HUD complaints, in which Ms. Doughtie notes that “[t]here is an active court case for Mr. DeSouza that I am not sure I should speak about.” (ECF No. 151-5, Pl.'s Exh. 28 at 29.)
• A continuation of the email chain above in which Mr. Berthod notes that he will “reach out” to DeSouza but that he would “have a limited conversation based on the fact that [DeSouza] has a legal case pending.” (ECF No. 151-5, Pl.'s Exh. 29 at 31.) Mr. Berthod also notes that “there appear[ed] to be a couple of issues” with DeSouza, “[o]ne being his occupancy, not residing in the unit [a]nd [the other being] unreported income as a result of an income discrepancy report from [Enterprise Income Verification] during his last annual recertification [in] November of 2013.” (Id.)
• An email exchange between Ms. Doughtie and Mr. Berthod on September 5, 2014 in which both note their view that DeSouza is mentally unstable. (See ECF No. 151-9, Pl.'s Exh. 61 at 2.) In particular, Mr. Berthod sent an email to Ms. Doughtie noting that “[DeSouza] appears to be mentally unstable” and advising her to “inform [her attorney that she is] in fear of [DeSouza] and have them [sic] slap a restraining order-no contact or no trepass on him to keep him away from [Ms. Doughtie] and the office staff. . . .” (Id.). Ms. Doughtie replies that she “left a message for our attorney to apply for a protective order” and that “[DeSouza] is very unstable, every action he takes every letter he has written shows that.” (Id.)
• An email exchange between Mr. Berthod and Ms. Frank on August 15, 2014, in which Mr. Berthod notes that “[w]e are looking to evict [DeSouza] for unreported income and not living at the site for extended periods of time.” (ECF No. 151-9, Pl.'s Exh. 63, at 4.)[20] He also avers that “[DeSouza] has also been taking photographs and videos of the staff and residents among a host of other really strange and disturbing things on the property.” (Id.)
• An email from Ms. Doughtie to Mr. Berthod on September 5, 2014, in which Ms. Doughtie notes her fear of DeSouza. (ECF No. 151-9, Pl.'s Exh. 63, at 6.) In particular Ms. Doughtie states: “I need my company to back me in this situation to see this man for what he is!!! We at this point are deathly afraid of this man. Our concern is that he is going to take the final step off the cliff and harm us.” (Id.)

         There is one other email chain in the same vein as the communications listed above contained in the record.[21] The email exchange in question, which took place between Ms. Doughtie and Attorney Paul on February 26, 2015, begins with an email from Ms. Doughtie stating as follows:

This letter was hand delivered about 15 minutes ago by Desouza himself. I am hoping you can get this man evicted. I consider his words a hate crime which [sic] is against the law. It is also untrue slander. I have never had an accident let alone a hit and ...

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