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Discrimination suit against housing complex fails

After three attempts at suing the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority for alleged unsafe conditions, a senior citizen resident again failed to show he was treated differently because of his age or religion or that he was the victim of legal malpractice. His case was dismissed with prejudice.

Background

Al-Tariq R. Ramadan, a senior citizen, lives in the Fay Towers housing complex managed by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Ramadan has sued the Authority and six individual defendants, asserting that Fay Towers is an unsafe place to live, that the Authority has failed to maintain the premises, that he has suffered discrimination as a resident and that the Authority wrongfully identified him as a class member in a different lawsuit.

The defendants have moved to dismiss Ramadan’s second amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

Equal protection claim

In Count One, Ramadan appears to assert an equal protection claim based on age and religion pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. “To succeed on an equal protection claim, a plaintiff must first demonstrate [1] that he has been treated differently from others with whom he is similarly situated and [2] that the unequal treatment was the result of intentional or purposeful discrimination.”

Ramadan fails to allege that he has received different treatment as a senior citizen resident from all other residents of Fay Towers. Ramadan also fails to plead that he has received different treatment as a Muslim resident. Moreover, Ramadan does not allege facts showing that anti-Muslim animus motivated the decision to “dismantle” his interfaith services. Because Ramadan has failed to make sufficient allegations with respect to either element, the court will dismiss his equal protection claim.

Fair Housing Act claim

In Count Two, Ramadan argues that he has suffered discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Because Ramadan fails to plead facts showing an intent to discriminate, the court will dismiss his Fair Housing Act claim.

Housing and Community Development Act

In Count Three, Ramadan asserts that he has suffered discrimination in violation of the Housing and Community Development Act. However, the statute does not confer a private cause of action. The court, therefore, will dismiss Ramadan’s claim under the Housing and Community Development Act.

Legal malpractice

Ramadan’s final series of allegations concern his inclusion as a class member in a different case against the Authority. On July 10, 2018, the court approved the settlement agreement in Miles v. Richmond Redevelopment & Hous. Auth. The Legal Aid Justice Center, which represented the plaintiffs in Miles, identified Ramadan as a class member. Ramadan later approached staff members at the Center for representation in this lawsuit, but the Center declined to represent him.

In Count Four, Ramadan alleges that he was wrongfully identified as a class member. The court construes this as a claim for legal malpractice. Ramadan does not allege that an attorney-client relationship existed when he was included a class member or when the Center declined to represent him in this case. Accordingly, the court will dismiss Ramadan’s legal malpractice claim against the Center.

Leave to amend

The court has afforded Ramadan two opportunities to state an actionable claim for relief and to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Despite those opportunities, Ramadan’s third effort at drafting an appropriate pleading continues to fall far short. Because any amendment would be futile, the court declines to grant Ramadan leave to amend.

Defendants’ motion to dismiss granted.

Ramadan v. Richmond Redevelopment  and Housing Authority, Case No. 19-cv-166, Jan. 17, 2020. EDVA at Richmond (Gibney). VLW 020-3-042. 14 pp.