United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY, DISTRICT JUDGE.
civil lawsuit, pro se plaintiff Magnolia Cooper
contends that Community Development Authority
(“CDA”) of Madison, Wisconsin,  violated her
rights to healthy and safe housing by renting her an
apartment infested with rodents and insects. Because Cooper
is proceeding without prepayment of the full filing fee, her
complaint must be screened under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) to
determine whether any portion is frivolous or malicious,
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted or
seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. After reviewing her complaint, the court
concludes that Cooper's allegations do not implicate any
federal claim over which this court has jurisdiction.
Accordingly, her complaint will be dismissed without
Plaintiff Magnolia Cooper is a public housing tenant residing
in apartments operated by the Community Development Authority
in Madison, Wisconsin. Cooper alleges that in October 2016,
her apartment became infested with rodents. She called
maintenance, who plugged holes in her wall and set out traps.
After vacating the apartment for some period of time, Cooper
came back on December 2, but there were still mice in the
apartment also has some type of black and red insects, which
Cooper thinks may be fleas or ticks that live in the heating
vents. Cooper's daughter who stays at the apartment
sometimes contracted Lyme disease and required
hospitalization. Cooper thinks the Lyme disease may have been
from insects in the apartment. She also thinks her daughter
may have been bitten by a rat at the apartment, and is
worried her daughter might have kidney failure.
problems in the apartment include a frayed cord connected to
the refrigerator, a broken bedroom doorknob, some peeling
interior paint and three broken blinds, although Cooper does
not blame CDA for these problems.
contends that CDA violated her right to safe and healthy
housing without identifying any specific legal basis for her
claims. While Cooper was not required to identify a
particular statute or constitutional provision that she
believes CDA violated, the court has an obligation to
determine whether Cooper's allegations are sufficient to
state a viable legal claim over which this court would have
jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915;
Buchel-Ruegsegger v. Buchel, 576 F.3d 451, 453 (7th
Cir. 2009) (noting that federal courts have a duty to
evaluate their own jurisdiction, “sua sponte if
necessary”) (citation omitted).
federal district court has limited jurisdictional authority.
This court may only hear a case if Congress has authorized
it. Generally, a federal court may exercise jurisdiction over
a case in one of two situations: (1) the plaintiff brings a
claim that arises under federal law, 28 U.S.C. § 1331;
or (2) the plaintiff and defendants are citizens of different
states and the amount in controversy is greater than $75,
000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Because Cooper and the CDA are
not citizens of different states, the court would have
jurisdiction over Cooper's claims only if her claims
arise under the United States Constitution or other federal
law. After some consideration, the court is unable to discern
a federal law that might support Cooper's claim
the CDA is subsidized by the federal government and must
comply with the United States Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §
1437 et seq. However, the United States Housing Act
does not appear to authorize any private right of action that
would permit a plaintiff to challenge the conditions of
CDA-operated housing in federal court. See, e.g., Davis
v. Sellas, 580 F. App'x 467, 467 (7th Cir. 2014)
(unpubl.) (holding that USHA does not “create a private
right of action for tenants to sue landlords who provide
subpar maintenance”); Davis v. Raleigh Hous.
Auth., No. 5:09-cv-522-F, 2011 WL 832330, at *4 (E.D.
N.C. Jan. 27, 2011) (finding no private cause of action under
Housing Act for asserting claims relating to unsanitary
apartment); Ross v. Midland Mgmt. Co., No. 02 C
8190, 2003 WL 21801023, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 1, 2003)
(“The USHA does not create a warranty of habitability
or a private right of action regarding the conditions of
apartments.”); Banks v. Dallas Hous. Auth.,
119 F.Supp.2d 636, 638 (N.D. Tex. 2000) (same); Thomas v.
Ch. Hous. Auth., 919 F.Supp. 1159, 1164 (N.D. Ill. 1996)
Cooper's allegations do not state a claim under the Fair
Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604, which prohibits
discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color,
religion, sex, familial status, or national origin. Because
Cooper's complaint contains no facts suggesting the CDA
discriminated against her in particular, much less did so
based on her membership in a protected class, she cannot
bring her claims under the Fair Housing Act. See
Ross, 2003 WL 21801023, *4 (“The FHA also does not
create a private right of action to ensure
Cooper's allegations of unsanitary housing do not
implicate any constitutional provision. On the contrary, the
Constitution does not guarantee “access to dwellings of
a particular quality, ” Lindsey v. Normet, 405
U.S. 56, 74 (1972), and Cooper has not alleged that CDA
violated any other constitutional right, such as her right to
due process or equal protection under the law.
does not necessarily mean that plaintiff has no
remedy; rather, her remedy may be in state court, or state or
federal administrative proceeding. In particular,
landlord-tenant law is traditionally the province of the
states, and thus, Cooper may have a cause of action
under state law concerning the conditions of her dwelling.
Cooper may want to consult her local tenant union for
guidance. Regardless, even ...