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Geter v. Horning Brothers Management

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


August 21, 2007

HENRY W. GETER, II, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HORNING BROTHERS MANAGEMENT ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reggie B. Walton United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This action, brought pro se under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. (2007), against four defendants, is before the Court on the motion of two of the defendants to dismiss. In addition, plaintiff has moved for entry of a default judgment.*fn1 Upon consideration of the parties' submissions, the Court will grant the movants' motion to dismiss and deny plaintiff's motion for a default judgment.

Plaintiff rents an apartment at a complex named "The Cloisters," which is located on Michigan Avenue, N.E., in the District of Columbia. He accuses his landlord of discriminating against him by failing to provide reasonable accommodations for his disability resulting from diabetes. Compl. at 1-2. Plaintiff names as defendants Horning Brothers Management, The Cloisters, Assistant Property Manager Veda S. Brinkley and Manager Connie Fletcher. In their motion to dismiss, Horning Brothers Management and The Cloisters claim that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction because neither is a suable entity.*fn2 See Mot. ¶¶ 1-2. In a document titled "Memorandum Analysis Thereto Records of the Court Facts Held to Complaint Documents," [Dkt. No. 14], plaintiff refers to "Attachment A-Notice to Cure Violation of Tenancy or Vacate," as evidence of the existence of Horning Brothers Management as a legal entity, id. at 2, but no such document appears in the record. The motion to dismiss the complaint against the non-individual defendants will therefore be granted. Plaintiff is not foreclosed at this stage of the proceedings from moving to amend the complaint to add a suable entity.*fn3

In response to plaintiff's motion for entry of a default judgment, the individual defendants rightly assert that they cannot be in default because the docket does not reflect proper service of process upon them.*fn4 See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a) (authorizing the Clerk to enter a party's default upon failure "to plead or otherwise defend as provided by these rules"); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a) (requiring a private defendant to serve an answer "within 20 days after being served with the summons and complaint"). The Marshals Service attempted service by certified, registered mail. See Dkt. Nos. 4, 5. The returns of service show that a third-party individual signed for the deliveries, id., but there is no indication that the signer was authorized to receive service on behalf of the named defendants. In the absence of proof that the individual defendants were properly served with process, no basis exists for entering defaults and granting plaintiff's motion for a default judgment.*fn5


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