United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Michael K. Castro-Jaques, Plaintiff,
Lang-Nelson Associates, Inc., Broadway Village Investors, LLC, Summit/Broadway Limited Partnership d/b/a Broadway Village Apartments, and North Suburban Towing, Inc., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on three Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint.
Michael Castro-Jaques instituted this action in Minnesota state
court. He claims that his landlords, Defendants Broadway
Village Investors, LLC and Summit/Broadway Limited
Partnership, and the apartment complex's manager,
Defendant Lang-Nelson Associates, Inc., violated the Fair
Housing Act, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, common law, and
other state statutes by towing his car and scrapping it when
he did not pay to recover it, and by keeping his security
deposit without giving him the notice Minnesota law requires.
Also named as a Defendant is North Suburban Towing
(“NST”), the company that towed his car from the
complex's parking lot.
moved into an apartment in the Broadway Village Apartments
complex in Bloomington in 2015. (2d Am. Compl. ¶ 9.) In
September 2017, Castro-Jaques was diagnosed with
hemochromatosis, a condition that prevented him from working
or living alone, and indeed from even climbing the stairs to
get to his apartment. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21.) He
asked the apartment management office if he could terminate
his lease early and provided a letter from his healthcare
providers regarding his condition. He asked to be released
from the 60-days' notice requirement and said that he
could move out by the end of October. (Id.
¶¶ 22-24.) Castro-Jaques stopped living at the
apartment but paid rent through the end of October and kept
his car in the apartment's parking lot.
October, Castro-Jaques received notice from North Suburban
Towing that his car had been towed and that he had to pay
$176 to get the car back. (Id. ¶ 27.) He called
the towing company who claimed that the landlord had
requested that the car be towed. (Id. ¶ 30.)
According to Castro-Jaques, the apartment manager offered to
pay to recover the vehicle, but then refused to do so when
the charges were more than he expected. (Id. ¶
34.) Because Castro-Jaques was disabled and could not work,
he could not pay to get his car out of the impound lot and
the car was ultimately scrapped. (Id. ¶ 35.) He
claims that he still owes more than $1, 500 to the towing
company. (Id. ¶ 36.)
also claims that the moving Defendants-Lang-Nelson, Broadway
Village Investors, and Summit/Broadway-wrongfully withheld
his security deposit after he moved out and did not give him
notice of this as required by Minnesota law. The Second
Amended Complaint contains nine counts. Count 1 claims civil
conversion and Count II claims civil theft, both against NST
and Defendant Lang-Nelson. Counts III, IV, and V claim
disability discrimination and retaliation under the Minnesota
Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) against the moving
Defendants. Count VI is a claim under Minn. Stat. §
570B.178 for wrongful refusal to return security deposit,
also against the moving Defendants. Counts VII and VIII claim
violations of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”)
against the moving Defendants, and Count IX is an
unlawful-towing claim against NST.
seek to Dismiss Castro-Jaques's Second Amended Complaint,
arguing that he improperly served several Defendants and as a
result, his MHRA claims are untimely, and also that several
other claims fail to state claims on which relief can be
granted. Castro-Jaques in turn contends that the Motion to
Dismiss is untimely, as Defendants' first Motion to
Dismiss was brought more than seven days after the Notice of
Removal. Fed.R.Civ.P. 81(c)(2)(C). But even assuming that the
first Motion to Dismiss was untimely, Castro-Jaques amended
the Complaint and Defendants responded in the time the Court
allowed. The instant Motion is not untimely.
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
need only “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). A claim bears facial plausibility when it allows
the Court “to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When evaluating a motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept plausible
factual allegations as true. Gomez v. Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A., 676 F.3d 655, 660 (8th Cir. 2012). But
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are
insufficient to support a claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
Statute of Limitations
statute of limitations for MHRA claims is one year. Minn.
Stat. § 363A.28, subd. 3. The Second Amended Complaint
alleges that Castro-Jaques first received notice that his car
had been towed in late October 2017; thus, the statute of
limitations for MHRA claims arising out of the tow ran in
late October 2018.
emailed Defendants' counsel a copy of the summons and
complaint on October 16, 2017, within the statute of
limitations. However, the acknowledgment-of-service forms
attached to the e-mail were old service forms. On November 5,
2018, defense counsel emailed Castro-Jaques and attached the
current versions of the forms, asking that counsel redraft
the acknowledgments of service and send them back.
Castro-Jaques's attorney responded that acknowledgements
were unnecessary as Defendants were served pursuant to
Minnesota's rules for personal service. The parties hotly
dispute the date the lawsuit can be deemed to have commenced
for purposes of the MHRA statute of
point out that Minnesota courts warn litigants about filing
lawsuits too close to the expiration of the statute of
limitations, because under Minnesota law mailing is not
service, and service by mail is not complete until the
acknowledgments are executed and returned. Coons v. St.
Paul Cos., 486 N.W.2d 771 (Minn.Ct.App. 1992). Moreover,
because defendants have 30 days to return the acknowledgments
and thus let the statute of limitations run before executing
the acknowledgments, “service by mail ...