Bose Corp. v. Consumers Union of the United States, Inc., 466 U.S. 485, 514 n. 31, 104 S.Ct. 1949, 1967 n. 31, 80 L.Ed.2d 502 (1984); 5
Davis v. United States, 564 A.2d 31, 35 (D.C. 1989 5
Fraser v. Gottfried, 636 A.2d 430, 432 n. 5 (D.C. 1994) 5
Johnson-El v. District of Columbia, 579 A.2d 163, 166 (D.C. 1990 5
Lee v. Jones, 632 A.2d 113, 115 (D.C. 1993) 5
Nader v. de Toledano, 408 A.2d 31, 41-42 (D.C. 1979), 6
Smith v. WMATA, 631 A.2d 387, 390 (D.C. 1993 5
Souci v. William C. Smith & Co., 763 A.2d 96, 100 (D.C. 2000). 7
United States v. Felder, 548 A.2d 57, 61 (D.C. 1988). 5
12G DCMR 100.2 6
12G DCMR 704.2 6
STATEMENT OF THE CASE & FACTS
On or about December 7, 2021, the Appellant filed a Complaint to enforce the Housing Code Regulations on the Appellee. (See Complaint), and a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order. (See Motion for Temporary Restraining Order). In the said Complaint, the Appellant pointed out different problems with the Appellee’s house. Notably, the ceiling was moist, water leaked from the bathroom vent (when it rained, water leaked through the ceiling above the toilet and dripped on the floor and bathroom), black water stains appeared to be leaking from the bathroom ceiling; there were animal sounds and movements in the ceiling, and there was foul odor. (See Photos of the condition of the Property). There were also cracks on the ceiling. Further,the Appellee’s children had been exposed to bugs that bit them, as a result of the condition of the house. For instance, on or about July 6, 2020, the Appellee’s daughter was bitten by the bugs and developed an allergic reaction. She had to be taken to the ER. The bugs caused further harm and/or damage on Appellee’s clothes and furniture.
On or about December 20, 2020, the Appellee filed a Motion to Dismiss Appellant’s Complaint and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order. (See Appellee’s Motion to Dismiss). In the said Motion, the Appellee alleged inter alia, that the Appellant incorrectly referred to herself as a tenant and the Appellee as her Landlord. In that regard, the Appellee argued that it is not subject to the District of Columbia Housing Regulations or the DC Property Maintenance Code. In sum, the Appellant argued that the Appellant’s Complaint and Motion failed to raise a cause of action upon which relief can be granted, because the Appellee was not a Landlord and the Appellant was not the Appellee’s tenant in that regard.
The Court considered the Appellee’s Motion to Dismiss, and granted the Appellee’s prayers therein. Accordingly, the Appellant’s Complaint and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order were dismissed.
The Appellant raised genuine issues of material fact in the Complaint and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order.
The Court erred in dismissing Appellant’s case for alleged failure to state genuine issues of material fact.
A. STANDARD OF REVIEW
The sufficiency of a complaint presents a question of law; therefore, our standard of review is de novo. Davis v. United States, 564 A.2d 31, 35 (D.C. 1989); United States v. Felder, 548 A.2d 57, 61 (D.C. 1988). De novo review requires us to make an original review of the record and from that review to reach an independent judgment. Bose Corp. v. Consumers Union of the United States, Inc., 466 U.S. 485, 514 n. 31, 104 S.Ct. 1949, 1967 n. 31, 80 L.Ed.2d 502 (1984); Felder, supra, 548 A.2d at 61.
In reviewing the grant of a 12 (b)(6) motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim, this court applies the same standard as the trial judge, i.e. “we accept the allegations of the complaint as true, and construe all facts and inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Atkins v. Industrial Telecommunications Ass’n, 660 A.2d 885, 887 (D.C. 1995). “Because a motion to dismiss a complaint under Rule 12 (b)(6) `presents questions of law, our standard of review for dismissal for failure to state a claim is de novo.'” Fraser v. Gottfried, 636 A.2d 430, 432 n. 5 (D.C. 1994) (quoting Johnson-El v. District of Columbia, 579 A.2d 163, 166 (D.C. 1990)).
B. THE APPELLANT RAISED GENUINE ISSUES OF MATERIAL FACT IN THE COMPLAINT AND MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER.
A fact is material because it is a fact that has direct and uncontestable bearing on the outcome of the case. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248 (1986), 106 S.Ct. at 2510. Further, the requisite showing of a genuine issue for trial is predicated upon the existence of a legal theory which remains viable under the asserted version of the facts.'” Lee v. Jones, 632 A.2d 113, 115 (D.C. 1993) (quoting Smith v. WMATA, 631 A.2d 387, 390 (D.C. 1993)).
There is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); see also Nader v. de Toledano, 408 A.2d 31, 41-42 (D.C. 1979), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 1078, 100 S.Ct. 1028, 62 L.Ed.2d 761 (1980).
Appellant avers that the Appellee owed a duty of special care to the Appellant. For instance, the mission statement of the Appellee raises several obligations of the Appellee. Notably, the mission statement provides thus: “to maintain buildings and property that are safe, secure, accessible, and affordable; to upgrade when necessary the existing units, buildings/building systems, grounds and appliances.” (See Appellee’s Mission, Vision, and Value Statement, p.1). The mission also provides that the Appellee shall “improve the quality of the business operation”. Id. Further, the Appellee commits itself to “respond to concerns of staff and members and deal with them in a reasonable time frame”. Id. According to 12G DCMR 704.2 et seq., all residential buildings should be fitted with smoke detectors. 12G DCMR 305.3 further provides that all cracks should be repaired. Appellant therefore avers that the Appellee has a duty to work on the faults in Appellant’s house.
Instead, the Appellee gave the Appellant possession of the house, with the full knowledge that there were cracks and there were no smoke detectors.
In light of the foregoing, the Appellant has successfully raised genuine issues of material fact to warrant her prayers in the dismissed Complaint and Motion for Temporary Injunction.
C. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING APPELLANT’S CASE FOR ALLEGED FAILURE TO STATE GENUINE ISSUES OF MATERIAL FACT.
12G DCMR 100.2 provides that the Property Maintenance Code applies to all residential and non-residential premises, and that it provides standards for administration, and penalties thereof. It can therefore be said that the said provision creates relations, rights, and obligations between the lessee and the property owner. It is in that regard that courts have held that the relationship between a cooperative and a member owning a property lease is that of landlord and tenant. See Souci v. William C. Smith & Co., 763 A.2d 96, 100 (D.C. 2000).
In the instant action, the Appellee is subject to the District of Columbia’s Housing Regulations. Notably, the Appellee’s “Second Northwest New Member’s Orientation Information Material” provides expressly that “the individual is both a tenant because of their lease with the corporation, and an owner because of their stock ownership and participation in group governance.” (See Second Northwest New Member’s Orientation Information Material- Exhibit B). Further, the Appellee ’s Handbook provides expressly that the Occupancy Agreement is “similar to a rental lease.” (See Cooperative Handbook, p. 9).
Further, Article VIII of the Appellee ’s By-Laws provides that the Appellee is subject to the rights, powers, and privileges of HUD. (See By–LawsSecond Northwest Cooperative Homes Association). Further, under Section 8 of Article XI, the Appellee committed itself to monitor the services it offers by the Professional Management Agent of the housing development. Id.
It can therefore be observed that the Judge erred when the Judge failed to acknowledge the fact that the Appellee was subject to the Housing Regulations. Accordingly, the Appellant was mandated to carry out the repairs in Appellant’s house.
For the foregoing reasons, this Court should hold that the Appellant’s Complaint and Motion for Temporary Injunction raised genuine issues of material fact. The Court should also hold that the Appellee is subject to the Housing Regulations. Therefore, the Trial Court erred in granting the Appellee’s Motion to Dismiss.
In that regard, Appellant respectfully requests this Honorable Court reverses the Trial Court’s Order, and dismisses the Appellee’s Motion to Dismiss. Appellant also prays this Court grant any other relief this Court deems just.
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned hereby certifies that he served a copy of the foregoing brief on counsel for the Appellee by mail, email/e-filing or personal delivery a copy of the same to the Appellee, addressed as follows:
At Legal writing experts, we would be happy to assist in preparing any legal document you need. We are international lawyers and attorneys with significant experience in legal drafting, Commercial-Corporate practice and consulting. In the last few years, we have successfully undertaken similar assignments for clients from different jurisdictions. If given this opportunity, The LegalPen will be able to prepare the legal document within the shortest time possible. You can send us your quick enquiry ( here )