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Quezada v. Marshall

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 15, 2013

William F. QUEZADA, Plaintiff,
v.
Sue MARSHALL, et al., Defendants.

Page 130

William F. Quezada, Washington, DC, pro se.

Natalie Olivia Ludaway, Grace Maral Burnett, Leftwich & Ludaway, Denise J. Baker, Office of Attorney General, Vladlen David Zvenyach, Manasi Venkatesh, Council of the District of Columbia, Office of General Counsel, Mashanda Yvette Mosley, District of Columbia Housing Authority, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, District Judge.

According to his complaint, William Quezada owns an apartment building that, while he was married and for some time after, was held in the name of his now ex-wife. Mr. Quezada alleges that the District of Columbia Housing Authority and The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness both rented units in the building and, for a period of time after his divorce, paid rent to his ex-wife when they should have been paying him. He has brought suit pro se under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, naming officials in both organizations as defendants, along with the mayor, the city council, and his ex-wife. The defendants have moved to dismiss the case (except for his ex-wife, who has not been served). Their motions will be granted, because Mr. Quezada has not alleged any violation of rights guaranteed by federal law and therefore cannot sue under section 1983. The court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any non-federal claims.

I. BACKGROUND

In his complaint, William Quezada alleges that he and Ms. Lopez,[1] his ex-wife,

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owned an apartment building while they were married. Compl. at 4. Ownership of the building, then valued at $731,800 and held in the name of Ms. Lopez, was divided at the time of their divorce, with Mr. Quezada receiving a forty percent share. Id.; Order at 1, Quezada v. Lopez, 04-DRB-560, 04-DRB-1282 (D.C.Sup.Ct. Dec. 9, 2009) (" Order" ).[2] Ms. Lopez later obtained a $445,000 mortgage on the building without the consent of Mr. Quezada, who sued and was awarded full ownership of the property, encumbered by the mortgage. Compl. at 4-5; Order at 2-3. In December 2009, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ordered Ms. Lopez to immediately quitclaim all rights in the property to her ex-husband. Compl. at 5; Order at 3. Ms. Lopez did not transfer her interests promptly. Compl. at 5; Letter from William F. Quezada to Hans Froelicher IV, General Counsel, District of Columbia Housing Authority, at 2 (Feb. 10, 2012) (stating that Ms. Lopez was " continuously refusing to sign the transfer in accordance with the sentence of December 9[ ], 2009" ).

The apartment building has twelve units, some of which were rented to the District of Columbia Housing Authority for use by participants in its Housing Choice Voucher Program— formerly known as Section 8— and others to The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, a non-profit organization. Compl. at 5. Mr. Quezada " ha[d] the impression that from December 2009 the rents of the building were placed in an escrow account by [the] Housing Authority until such time [as Ms.] Lopez sign[ed] the" quitclaim. Id.; Affidavit of William F. Quezada (Jan. 13, 2011) (" [F]rom the date of December 9, 2009 until very recently, I've been under the impression that the funds that the District of Columbia paid for the monthly rent for several apartments was deposited in an escrow account without being paid to my ex-wife or to me." ). In April 2011, Mr. Quezada inquired about the funds that he thought were being held in escrow, but was told that the Housing Authority and The Community Partnership were still making payments directly to Ms. Lopez. Compl. at 6. The Housing Authority explained that this was because its records still showed Ms. Lopez to be the owner of the apartment building. Letter from Nicole C. Mason, Associate General Counsel, D.C. Housing Authority, at 1 (Feb. 2, 2012) (" [A]s of your April, 2011, visit, you had not taken steps to transfer ownership of the Property so that [the Housing Authority] could begin making monthly [payments] to you." ). By September 2011, Mr. Quezada had proven that he was the owner of the property and began receiving the payments that he was owed. Compl. at 6 (" The payment[s] continue[d] to Maria E. Lopez until September 2011." ); Letter from Nicole Mason, at 1 (" [I]n or about August, 2011, when you provided the requested information to [the Housing Authority], you began receiving [payments] related to the assistance tenancies in the Property." )

While attempting to resolve the question of rent payments, Mr. Quezada contacted many of the defendants, including Michael Brown, then a member of the Council of the District of Columbia and chairman of its Housing Committee, " personally visiting his office and by email requesting his

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intercession in this matter." Compl. at 6; see also Email from William Quezada to Councilmembers Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, Jim Graham, and Vincent Orange, and Sue Marshall, Executive Director, The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, and Others (Nov. 4, 2011); Email from William Quezada to Councilmembers Marion Barry, Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, Phil Mendelson, Jim Graham, and Others (Oct. 29, 2011). Some of the defendants encouraged Mr. Quezada to sue Ms. Lopez to recover the rents that had been paid to her. Compl. at 6.; cf. Letter from Nicole Mason (" The distribution/recovery of the [payments] for the period at issue is a matter for resolution between you and your ex-wife." ). Mr. Quezada did not, however, believe that he had grounds on which to file such a suit. See Letter from William F. Quezada to Hans Froelicher IV, at 2 (" I believe that I do not have any legal basis to sue [Ms.] Lopez...." ). Instead, Mr. Quezada informed the Housing Authority that he would " file [a] civil suit against the D.C. Mayor, all the City Council, [the] executive director [of the] Housing Authority and [the] director of [the] Housing Choice Voucher Program in the U.S. Federal Court for the District of Columbia" unless he was promptly paid the money that he claimed to be owed. Letter from William F. Quezada to Hans Froelicher IV, at 2. And he did just that.

In his complaint, Mr. Quezada named the following defendants: Sue Marshall, Executive Director of The Community Partnership; Adrianne Todman, Executive Director for the District of Columbia Housing Authority; Ronald McCoy, Director of the Housing Choice Voucher Program for the District of Columbia Housing Authority; Vincent Gray, Mayor of the District of Columbia; and the members of the Council of the District ...


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