United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky
Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge United States District
case is before the Court on two interrelated motions:
Defendant Brookside Apartment Properties, LLC's motion
for judgment on the pleadings (DN 7) and Plaintiffs Jaylynn
and Bryan Reeves motion to dismiss Brookside's
counterclaims (DN 12). Both motions are ripe. Finding that
one of Brookside's claims is moot and that it is entitled
to judgment on the pleadings for the rest of its claims, the
Court will grant that motion in part and deny that motion in
part. Further finding that Brookside has stated a claim on
which relief can be granted as to its remaining claims, the
Court will deny the Reeveses' motion to dismiss. However,
considering that only the property damage claim remains, the
Court will dismiss that claim sua sponte and decline
to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.
the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay
trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). In undertaking these inquiries, the Court
“may consider the Complaint and any exhibits attached
thereto, public records, items appearing in the record of the
case and exhibits attached to defendant's motion to
dismiss so long as they are referred to in the Complaint and
are central to the claims contained therein.”
Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n,
528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008).
extent a Rule 12(c) motion challenges a party's pleading,
the inquiry is equivalent to that used under Rule 12(b)(6).
Lindsay v. Yates, 498 F.3d 434, 438 (6th Cir. 2007).
Therefore, to survive a Rule 12(c) motion to dismiss,
“a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)). “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.” Id. The complaint
need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ”
yet must provide “more than an unadorned,
Id. “Conclusory allegations or legal
conclusions masquerading as factual allegations will not
suffice.” Eidson v. Tenn. Dept. of Child
Servs., 510 F.3d 631, 634 (6th Cir. 2007). In
undertaking this inquiry, “a district court must (1)
view the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations
as true.” Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488. “The
defendant has the burden of showing that the plaintiff has
failed to state a claim for relief[.]” Wesley v.
Campbell, 779 F.3d 421, 428 (6th Cir. 2015).
extent a Rule 12(c) motion argues that entry of judgment is
proper in favor of a party, the inquiry is equivalent to that
used for summary judgment under Rule 56. JPMorgan Chase
Bank, N.A. v. Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 582 (6th Cir. 2007)
(citation omitted). Judgment is proper in such a scenario
when “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). “[T]he mere existence
of some alleged factual dispute between the parties [is
insufficient]; the requirement is that there be no genuine
issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A genuine issue of
material fact exists when “there is sufficient evidence
favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict
for that party.” Id. In undertaking this
analysis, the Court must view the evidence in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Scott v. Harris,
550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). The party moving for judgment on
the pleadings bears the burden of establishing the
nonexistence of any issue of material fact. Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). They can meet this
burden by “citing to particular parts of materials in
the record” or “showing that the materials cited
do not establish the . . . presence of a genuine
dispute.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). This burden can also
be met by demonstrating that the nonmoving party
“fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
Factual and Procedural Background
and Bryan Reeves began renting an apartment at the Oaks St.
Andrews in Louisville, Kentucky in November 2014. DN 5 at 6.
The Oaks is owned and operated by Brookside Apartment
Properties, LLC, a commercial real estate firm located in
Nashville, Tennessee. Id. The Reeveses' lease
was a year-to-year lease with the most recent iteration
signed on October 21, 2016. Id. While living at the
apartment, the Reeveses engaged in aggressive and obscene
behavior targeted at Brookside staff and other tenants.
Id. On some occasions, they used racial slurs on the
Oaks at St. Andrews' public Facebook page. Id.
Then, in August 2017, Brookside's regional manager
witnessed the Reeveses engaging in aggressive and
confrontational behavior toward Brookside's office staff.
Id. As a result, she instructed staff to execute a
non-renewal of Plaintiffs' Lease. Id. A letter
to that effect was issued to the Reeveses on October 11,
2017. Id. at 7. The lease provides that tenants
whose yearly leases are not renewed convert to a
month-to-month tenancy under the same terms and conditions of
the yearly lease. Id. In such a scenario, the lease
imposes an automatic, additional fee of $100 per month.
the Reeveses' lease converted to a month-to-month
tenancy, they refused to pay the additional $100 fee.
Id. Brookside then began charging the Reeveses late
fees. DN 5 at 7. The Reeveses claim that these amounts were
not lawfully due because the additional amount was charged in
retaliation for filing a claim of discrimination with the
Louisville Metro Human Rights Commission (LMHRC) and
reporting housing code violations to the Louisville Metro
Government. DN 6 at 1. A housing inspector investigated the
alleged housing code violations and uncovered four
violations. DN 1-1 at 4, 11. While the LMHRC investigation
was pending, the Reeveses filed a complaint in the Jefferson
County Circuit Court, alleging Brookside failed to
accommodate Jaylynn's disability and retaliated against
them by raising their rent and failing to renew their lease.
DN 1-1. Specifically, the Reeveses alleged that they
requested to park Bryan's work truck at the complex so
that Jaylynn would not have to wake up and take him to his
truck, disrupting her medication schedule. DN 1-1 at 4.
January 2018, the Reeveses offered partial payment for their
rent obligations, which Brookside declined to accept before
providing notice that the Reeveses had defaulted on their
lease. DN 5 at 7. Around the same time, the case filed in
Jefferson County Circuit Court was removed to this Court. DN
1-1. Once here, Brookside filed an answer including a
counterclaim. DN 5. Brookside brought four claims for
eviction, unpaid rent, interference with peaceful enjoyment,
and property damage. Id. at 8-9. The Reeveses filed
an answer admitting several facts. DN 6. See also
this action was pending, Brookside initiated forcible
detainer proceedings in the Jefferson County District Court.
On March 28, 2018, the parties reached an agreement which
required the Reeveses to vacate within 20 days, required
Brookside to provide a neutral recommendation on inquiry, and
required Brookside to “pursue damages, including rent
owed and late fees, in a separate action.” DN 12 at 5.
The Reeveses then moved to dismiss Brookside's
counterclaim in this action. DN 12 at 1.
initial matter, the Court must address whether it retains
jurisdiction, as the Reeveses have attempted to
“withdraw” their discrimination claims and
deprive the Court of jurisdiction. Finding that jurisdiction
remains, the Court then turns to address the Reeveses'
claims based on failure-to-accommodate, retaliation, and
punitive damages. Ultimately, the Court concludes that
Brookside's motion for judgment on the pleadings should
be granted as to those claims. Finally, the Court considers
Brookside's claims for eviction, unpaid rent,
interference with peaceful enjoyment, and property damage.
Finding that Brookside is entitled to judgment on the unpaid
rent and peaceful interference claims, the Court will grant
Brookside's motion for judgment on the pleadings and deny
the Reeveses' motion to dismiss on those claims. As to
the eviction claim, the Court finds it has become moot in
light of the Jefferson County District Court's forcible
detainer order. As a result, the Court will deny
Brookside's motion for judgment on the pleadings to that
extent. Finally, the Court concludes that the property damage
claim states a plausible claim on which relief may be granted
and therefore denies the Reeveses' motion to dismiss on
that claim. However, the Court concludes that it would be in
the best interest of judicial economy for it to dismiss the
property damage claim and decline to exercise supplemental
their response to Brookside's motion for judgment on the
pleadings, the Reeveses purport to “withdraw any an
[sic] all claims associated with the claimed discrimination
based upon the disability of Plaintiffs.” DN 8 at
As a result, they reason, “this Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction because, the ...