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Kris v. Dusseault Family Revocable Trust of 2017

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

September 24, 2019

Margaret Kris
v.
Dusseault Family Revocable Trust of 2017 et al.

          ORDER

          Landya McCafferty United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Margaret Kris, proceeding pro se, sues defendants, Dusseault Family Revocable Trust of 2017, Frances Dusseault, and Charlene Dusseault, for claims arising out of an eviction proceeding Kris contends defendants undertook in retaliation for her complaints to the local public housing authority. After the magistrate judge’s preliminary review of Kris’s suit, the court dismissed all but one of her claims. Defendants move to dismiss Kris’s remaining claim. Doc. no. 15. Kris objects. Doc. no. 19. For the following reasons, the court denies defendants’ motion to dismiss.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true, draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in the plaintiff’s favor, and “determine whether the factual allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint set forth a plausible claim upon which relief may be granted.” Foley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 772 F.3d 63, 71, 75 (1st Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         BACKGROUND

         Kris lives with several physical and mental health conditions. She is hearing impaired in one ear, has a breathing problem (COPD), and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. To assist her, she previously had a “support” cat. During all relevant times, Kris’s sole source of income was Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”).

         Kris was a tenant in an apartment in Manchester, owned by the Dusseault Family Revocable Trust of 2017 (“Dusseault Trust”), from September 2017 until her eviction in July 2018. Though the Dusseault Trust owns the apartment complex, Frances Dusseault acted as the landlord of the property. The Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority (“MHRA”) subsidized Kris’s rent under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) Section 8 program.

         While Kris resided at the Manchester apartment, she made multiple complaints about her landlord to the MHRA. On October 5, 2017, Kris reported to the MHRA that she believed her building needed bedbug extermination and that she was concerned that such extermination would aggravate her breathing issues and negatively impact her support animal. Doc. no. 1-1 at 38. On December 11, 2017, she wrote a letter to the MHRA about maintenance issues at her apartment, inadequate snow removal, and the behavior of other tenants. Id. at 39. On January 4, 2018, Kris wrote another letter to the MHRA complaining that, due to her hearing impairment, the landlord had given her inadequate notice of the need to move her car for snow removal by having the snowplow honk. Id. at 45.

         At some point in January 2018, Frances and Charlene Dusseault came to Kris’s apartment to “admonish” her for reporting them to the MHRA. Doc. no. 1-2 at 35. The Dusseaults “verbally assault[ed]” Kris, and Frances dug her fingernails into Kris’s arm and then pushed Kris’s arm away. Id. Kris asked the Dusseaults to leave her apartment and reported the incident to the Manchester Police Department. Id. at 33. After this incident, the landlord did not respond to any of Kris’s complaints about maintenance issues at the apartment. Doc. no. 1-1 at 31, 40.

         In February 2018, Kris began withholding rent due to the landlord’s failure to respond to her requests for repairs. Soon thereafter, on March 2, the Dusseault Trust’s attorney, Sean Curran, filed a state court proceeding to evict Kris. See Dusseault Family Rev. Tr. Of 2017 v. Kris, No. 456-2018-LT-00234 (9th Cir. Dist. Div., Manchester). After a hearing in the eviction proceeding on March 28, the Manchester District Court entered judgment for the Dusseault Trust.

         Kris then filed a Fair Housing Act Discrimination Complaint with HUD. Doc. no. 1-1 at 17. In the complaint, Kris checked boxes to indicate that she believed she had been discriminated against on the basis of her mental and physical handicaps, and specifically mentioned her hearing impairment. She claimed that she was evicted because she withheld rent for repairs, that her landlord verbally and physically assaulted her, and that the landlord failed to respond to her requests to maintain the property.

         Kris also appealed her eviction judgment to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. But that Court declined to accept her discretionary appeal. See Dussealt Family Revocable Trust of 2017 v. Margaret Kris, No. 2018-0215 (N.H. Jun. 13, 2018); doc. no. 1-1 at 10. Consequently, the Manchester District Court issued a writ of possession to the landlord.

         Kris filed this action on June 20, 2018 along with her first motion for preliminary injunctive relief. Doc. nos. 1 & 2. On July 11, 2018, Kris returned to the Manchester apartment in an attempt to collect her belongings. After entering the property despite the posting of a sheriff’s sticker, Kris was arrested for criminal trespass, resisting arrest, and disturbing the peace. She spent the night at the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections, where she claims she was physically assaulted by corrections officers and denied medical care. On July 13, 2018, Kris filed a motion for a temporary restraining order requesting relief for how she was treated while in jail. Doc. no. 4. She also claimed that she has not received her security deposit back from her landlord nor has it been applied towards her outstanding rent. Id. at 8-9.

         This court referred Kris’s complaint and two requests for preliminary relief to the magistrate judge for a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). The magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation on August 6, 2018 (“August 2018 R&R”). The August 2018 R&R characterized Kris’s pleadings as asserting five claims: (1) HUD failed to execute certain duties under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”); (2) the Dusseaults and Attorney Sean Curran violated Kris’s rights under the FHA and the Americans with Disabilities Act; (3) biased state court judges violated Kris’s due process rights during the eviction proceedings; (4) the Manchester Police Department subjected Kris to excessive force and denied her medical attention in violation of her federal constitutional rights; and (5) the Manchester Police Department subjected Kris to excessive force and denied her access to grievances and a Bible in violation of her federal constitutional rights. See doc. no. 6 at 7-8. Claims 1 and 2 have additional subparts based on specific factual allegations. Id. After conducting a preliminary review of Kris’s claims, the magistrate ...


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