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Palma v. Genesis Community Management, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

May 2, 2018

Michael Palma, Plaintiff,
Genesis Community Management, Inc., Defendant.


          Christina A. Bryan United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, or in the Alternative, Motion for More Definite Statement (Dkt. 6). In response, Plaintiff filed what he styled a "More Definite Statement, Judicial Notice and Bill" (Dkt. 10). The court recommends that the Motion to Dismiss be granted.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff instituted this suit by filing a form Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights. Dkt. 1. The Complaint alleges that this suit is against state or local officials. Id. at 3. However, Plaintiff has named only one defendant in this case, Genesis Community Management, Inc. ("Genesis"). Plaintiff alleges that Genesis has violated his civil rights by sending him documents in an attempt to collect a debt he allegedly owes to his neighborhood association, Candlelight Oaks Village Maintenance Fund. See Dkt. 10. He brought this suit asserting jurisdiction and a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. 1.

         Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiffs Section 1983 claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) arguing that Plaintiff has not alleged a deprivation of any constitutional right, and that Defendant is not a state actor. Alternatively, and in the event the court declines to dismiss the case in its entirety, Defendant seeks pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) a more definite statement of the facts underlying each cause of action Plaintiff is asserting.

         II. Analysis

         1. Rule 12(b)(6) Standards

         In reviewing a pleading under Rule 12(b)(6), the "court accepts 'all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'" Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir.2004) (quoting Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir.1999)). However, only facts are entitled to an assumption of truth; legal conclusions unsupported by factual allegations do not suffice. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." 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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (2009). The motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) must be decided on Plaintiffs pleading alone.[1] Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); McCartney v. First City Bank, 970 F.2d 45, 47 (5th Cir. 1992) ("We may not look beyond the pleadings" on a 12(b)(6) motion). "In deciding whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and with every doubt resolved on the plaintiffs behalf, particularly where the plaintiff is pro se." Reule v. Sherwood Valley I Council of Co-Owners, Inc., Civil Action No. H-05-3197, 2005 WL 2669480, at *3 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 19, 2005).

         2. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Standards

         "Section 1983 does not create or establish a right in and of itself. Section 1983 provides a private right of action against parties acting 'under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State' to redress the deprivation of rights secured by the United States Constitution of federal law." Hutton v. Shamrock Ridge Homeowners Ass'n, No. 3:09-CV-1413-O, 2009 WL 4796626, at *2 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 14, 2009) (quoting City of St. Louis v. Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 117 (1988)). In order to state a claim under Section 1983, a Plaintiff must (1) allege a violation of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and (2) demonstrate that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. Leffall v. Dallas Indep. School Dist., 28 F.3d 521, 525 (5th Cir. 1994).

         A plaintiff may satisfy the "under color of state law" requirement of Section 1983 by proving that the conduct causing the deprivation is "fairly attributable to the State." Landry v. A-Able Bonding, Inc., 75 F.3d 200, 203-04 (5th Cir. 1996). Conduct is fairly attributable to the state when (1) the deprivation of constitutional rights is caused by the exercise of a state-created right or privilege, by a state-imposed rule of conduct, or by a person for whom the state is responsible, and (2) the party charged with the deprivation may be fairly described as a state actor. Id. (emphasis added). If the party sued is not a state actor, the claim "manifestly fails." Hutton, 2009 WL 4796626, at *2. "Throughout the history of Section 1983, courts have been strongly admonished to make a threshold inquiry whether the plaintiff complains of state action or 'private conduct, . . . against which the Fourteenth Amendment offers no shield.'" Id. (internal citations omitted). "[T]he under-color-of-state-law element of § 1983 excludes from its reach merely private conduct, no matter how discriminatory or wrongful." Hutton, 2009 WL 4796626, at*2.

         A party qualifies as a state actor if he is a state official, he has acted together with or has obtained significant aid from state officials, or his conduct is otherwise chargeable to the state. Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982). A private party does not become a state actor simply by taking an action provided for by state statute. Id. at 939. In order for a private party to be a state actor, there must be a close nexus between the private party's challenged action and the state, such as when the private party willfully participates with the state in a joint activity. See Id. at 941 (state and private entity jointly executed writ of attachment of property); see also Brentwood Acad. v. Tennessee Secondary Sch. Athletic Ass'n, 531 U.S. 288, 295 (2001) ("state action may be found if, though only if, there is such a close nexus between the State and the challenged action that seemingly private behavior may be fairly treated as that of the State itself).

         3. Genesis is not a state actor and has not deprived Plaintiff of civil rights

         3.A. Genesis is ...

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