United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO. 40)
& CROSS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO.
C. Hall Janet C. Hall United States District Judge.
Charles Lamont Britt (“Britt”) filed this action
pro se against his former landlord, Elm City
Communities (“Elm City”), in connection with his
eviction from a public housing unit. See generally
Complaint (“Compl.”) (Doc. No. 1). Construed
liberally, Britt's Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 33-1)
asserts (1) a Due Process claim pursuant to section 1983 of
title 42 of the United States Code, and (2) a state law claim
for defamation. The parties now cross-move for summary
judgment. See generally Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Def.'s Mot.”) (Doc. No. 40); Cross Motion
for Summary Judgment (“Pl.'s Mot.”) (Doc. No.
reasons that follow, both Motions are denied.
March 2, 2015, Britt entered into a lease agreement (the
“Lease”) with Elm City for a public housing unit
located at 358 Orange Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06511
(the “Apartment”). Defendant's Local Rule
56(a)1 Statement (“Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1”) (Doc.
No. 42) at ¶¶ 1-4. The Lease required Britt to,
inter alia, refrain from engaging in drug-related
criminal activity or other criminal activity that threatens
the health, safety, and right to peaceful enjoyment of other
residents. Id. at ¶ 6.
November 16, 2015, Britt was arrested and charged with
selling narcotics out of the Apartment. Id. at
¶ 11. Britt posted bail on the same day of his arrest.
Affidavit of Charles Lamont Britt (“Pl.'s
Aff.”) (Doc. No. 55-2) at ¶ 5. He continued to
live at the Apartment until December 21, 2015, when he was
arrested in Pennsylvania on different charges. Id.
at ¶ 6. Britt was incarcerated in Pennsylvania between
December 21, 2015, and June 2, 2016. Id.
Britt's arrest on November 16, 2015, Elm City took steps
to terminate the Lease and evict Britt from the Apartment
pursuant to Connecticut's summary process
statute. Specifically, Elm City claims that its
attorney mailed a Pre-Termination Notice to the Apartment on
December 1, 2015. Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 at ¶ 12. This
Notice stated that Britt was in violation of his Lease
because his Apartment had become “the target of an
ongoing investigation regarding drug sales” and because
Britt had been arrested on charges of selling narcotics out
of the Apartment. Exhibit 3 (“Ex. 3”) (Doc. No.
41-3) at 2-3. The Pre-Termination Notice provided Britt with
a 15-day period for requesting “a grievance hearing
before an impartial person or panel, ” although it also
noted that Elm City could “decline to afford [Britt] a
grievance hearing” because Britt's alleged
violation of the Lease involved criminal activity.
Id. at 5. Finally, the Notice advised that, if Britt
did not request a grievance hearing, or if the grievance
hearing was resolved against Britt, “an immediate
action to recover possession of the premises may be commenced
by [Elm City].” Id.
City did not receive a grievance hearing request from Britt
within the 15-day period. Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 at ¶
16. On January 9, 2016, a State Marshall attempted to serve
Britt with a Notice to Quit via abode service by leaving a
copy of the Notice at the Apartment. Id. at ¶
17. The Notice to Quit directed Britt to move out of the
Apartment by January 14, 2016, and it warned that, if Britt
failed to do so, “an eviction (summary process case)
may be started against [him].” Ex. 5 (Doc. No. 41-5) at
City subsequently filed a summary process action against
Britt in the New Haven Housing Court (the “Housing
Court”) with a return date of February 6, 2016.
Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 at ¶ 18. Britt failed to appear
in the summary process action, and the Housing Court issued a
summary process execution for possession of the Apartment on
March 2, 2016. Id. at ¶¶ 19, 20.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion for summary judgment, the burden is on the moving
party to establish that there are no genuine issues of
material fact in dispute and that the party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986); Wright v. N.Y. State
Dep't of Corr., 831 F.3d 64, 71-72 (2d Cir. 2016).
Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party
“must set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial, ” Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 256, and present “such proof as would allow a
reasonable juror to return a verdict in [its] favor, ”
Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir.
2000). “An issue of fact is genuine and material if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Cross Commerce
Media, Inc. v. Collective, Inc., 841 F.3d 155, 162 (2d
assessing the record to determine whether there are disputed
issues of material fact, the trial court must “resolve
all ambiguities and draw all inferences in favor of the party
against whom summary judgment is sought.” LaFond v.
Gen. Physics Servs. Corp., 50 F.3d 165, 175 (2d Cir.
1995). “Where it is clear that no rational finder of
fact ‘could find in favor of the nonmoving party
because the evidence to support its case is so slight,'
summary judgment should be granted.” F.D.I.C. v.
Great Am. Ins. Co., 607 F.3d 288, 292 (2d Cir. 2010)
(quoting Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd.
P'ship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994)). On the
other hand, where “reasonable minds could differ as to
the import of the evidence, ” the question must be left
to the finder of fact. Cortes v. MTA N.Y. City
Transit, 802 F.3d 226, 230 (2d Cir. 2015) (quoting
R.B. Ventures, Ltd. v. Shane, 112 F.3d 54, 59 (2d