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Colvin v. Parker's Lake Apartments

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

June 14, 2019

Brenda Colvin, Plaintiff,
v.
Parker's Lake Apartments, Defendants.

          Brenda Colvin, pro se Plaintiff.

          Brittany B. Skemp, Laurel J. Pugh, and Robin Ann Williams, Bassford Remele, for Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          DAVID T. SCHULTZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Brenda Colvin filed the present lawsuit against Parkers Lake Apartments, [1]alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq. Colvin now seeks a preliminary injunction to forestall eviction. Because Colvin has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of her fair housing claim, this Court recommends that Colvin's motion for a preliminary injunction be denied.

         Colvin also moves for a hearing for a default judgment. For reasons discussed below, the Court recommends that motion be denied.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         Colvin first applied for an apartment at Parkers Lake Apartments in March 2018. Decl. of Brittany B. Skemp Ex. 2 (Myss Deck), at ¶ 3, Docket No. 39-1. Before applying, Colvin informed the manager at Parkers Lake that she had a prior eviction that she was expunging, and that she had credit concerns. Id. at ¶ 5. She applied for a unit with an eight-month lease and a rent of $1, 636.00 per month.[2] Id. at ¶ 3. The unit Colvin originally applied for was deemed a "classic" unit, having not received updates that other units had. Id. Because the prior eviction still appeared on Colvin's rental records, Parkers Lake's tenant screening software recommended denying her rental application. Id. at ¶ 6.

         Citing Colvin's circumstances, Parkers Lake's community manager referred the application to the regional manager for Timberland Partners, the management company for Parkers Lake, who in turn referred it to Timberland's regional vice president, Anika Yokanovich. Id. at Ex. 1 ¶¶ 2, 7; Ex. 2 ¶ 6. Yokanvich decided to reject Colvin's application because of the eviction action that still appeared on her record. Id. at Ex. 1 ¶7. It is unclear from the record whether Yokanovich knew that Colvin was in the process of expunging the eviction. Parkers Lake sent Colvin a rejection letter. Id. at Ex. 2 ¶ 7.

         Following the successful expungement of her prior eviction, Colvin re-applied to Parkers Lake in May 2018. Id. at ¶ 8. At that time, Parkers Lake had two three-bedroom apartment units available: Units 1107 and 1112. Id. at ¶ 9. Unit 1107, which was available July 17, had its lowest rate at $2, 048 for a 10-month lease. Id. Unit 1112, available June 3, had its lowest rate at $2, 085 for either a 6-month or 9-month lease. Id. Unlike both the prior unit she had applied for and unit 1107, unit 1112 had been refurbished. Id. Colvin applied for Unit 1112 with the 9-month lease option and included with her application a copy of the order expunging the eviction, income verification, and a letter from a third-party agency indicating that it would provide short-term financial assistance. Id. at ¶¶ 9-11. Parkers Lake approved this new application and signed a lease agreement with Colvin. Id. at¶ 11; Pl.'s Exs. pp. 12-13, Docket No. 18.[3]

         In January 2019, Parkers Lake notified Colvin by letter that all future rent payments had to be in the form of a money order or cashier's check, or otherwise approved by Parkers Lake, claiming it did so because two of Colvin's rent checks were returned for insufficient funds.[4] Skemp Decl. Ex. 2, at¶ 14; Am. Inj. Req. Ex. 1, at 4, Docket No. 20-1. Parkers Lak subsequently began eviction proceedings in Minnesota state court, contending that Colvin owed $7, 502.67 in past-due rent, fees, and other charges. Skemp Decl. Ex. 1, at ¶ 8. On May 20, 2019, the state court entered judgment for Parkers Lake to recover the premises, but stayed issuing a Writ of Recovery of Premises until May 27. Skemp Decl. Ex. 3.

         Around the same time that Parkers Lake began eviction proceedings, Colvin filed her first complaint in this action. Compl., Docket No. 1. While her application to proceed In forma pauperis was pending, she filed two amended complaints. Am. Compl., Docket No. 5; Final Am. Compl., Docket No. 6. Parkers Lake filed an Answer to the Final Amended Complaint on May 20, 2019. Answer, Docket No. 15. After completing its review, the Court granted Colvin's IFP motion on June 4, 2019. Order, Docket No. 35.

         CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

         I. Motion for ...


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