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Morgan v. Fairway Nine Ii Condominium Association, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 24, 2015

BERNARD L. MORGAN and MARILYN L. MORGAN, husband and wife, Plaintiffs,
v.
FAIRWAY NINE II CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC., an Idaho corporation; PIONEERWEST PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LLC., an Idaho limited liability company; and Does 1-10, Defendants.

ORDER ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

EDWARD J. LODGE, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

On February 11, 2015, United States Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush issued a Report and Recommendation ("Report"), recommending that Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, and Plaintiffs' Motion to Dismiss and/or Strike Defendants' Counterclaim all be denied. (Dkt. 83.) Any party may challenge a magistrate judge's proposed recommendation by filing written objections to the Report within fourteen days after being served with a copy of the same. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Local Civil Rule 72.1(b). The district court must then "make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." Id. The district court may accept, reject, or modify in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Id. ; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The Plaintiffs filed objections to the Report. (Dkt. 86.) The matter is now ripe for the Court's consideration. See Local Civil Rule 72.1(b)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by the magistrate judge." Where the parties object to a report and recommendation, this Court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report which objection is made." Id. Where, however, no objections are filed the district court need not conduct a de novo review. In United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003), the court interpreted the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C):

The statute [28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C)] makes it clear that the district judge must review the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise. As the Peretz Court instructed, "to the extent de novo review is required to satisfy Article III concerns, it need not be exercised unless requested by the parties." Peretz, 501 U.S. at 939 (internal citation omitted). Neither the Constitution nor the statute requires a district judge to review, de novo, findings and recommendations that the parties themselves accept as correct. See Ciapponi, 77 F.3d at 1251 ("Absent an objection or request for review by the defendant, the district court was not required to engage in any more formal review of the plea proceeding."); see also Peretz, 501 U.S. at 937-39 (clarifying that de novo review not required for Article III purposes unless requested by the parties)....

See also Wang v. Masaitis, 416 F.3d 993, 1000 & n.13 (9th Cir. 2005). Furthermore, to the extent that no objections are made, arguments to the contrary are waived. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72; 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (objections are waived if they are not filed within fourteen days of service of the Report and Recommendation). "When no timely objection is filed, the Court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Advisory Committee Notes to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 (citing Campbell v. United States Dist. Court, 501 F.2d 196, 206 (9th Cir.1974)).

The Court has reviewed the entire Report as well as the record in this matter for clear error on the face of the record and none has been found. The Court has also conducted a de novo review of those portions of the Report to which the Plaintiffs have objected and finds as follows.

DISCUSSION

The full procedural background and facts of this case are properly articulated in the Report and the Court incorporates the same in this Order. (Dkt. 83.) In short, the Amended Complaint states claims alleging the Defendants violated the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., Fair Housing Regulations, 24 C.F.R. § 100 et seq., Negligence, Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. (Dkt. 40.) Plaintiffs' claims arise from allegations that the Defendants denied the Plaintiffs' request to install a refrigerated air conditioning unit at the condominium residence they own which is located in the Fairway Nine II condominiums, Phase IV, Sun Valley, Idaho. Plaintiffs claim the air conditioning unit is necessary because they, as well as several of their grandchildren, suffer medical issues which have caused disabilities making it necessary that they have cool, filtered air in a climate controlled environment. (Dkt. 40 at ¶ 17-18.) Defendants have filed a separate Verified Counterclaim seeking a declaration that Plaintiffs are in violation of the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions of the property ("CCRs"). (Dkt. 39.) The parties filed Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment and Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Dismiss and/or Strike the Counterclaim. The Report recommends denying each of the Motions. Plaintiffs objections assert 1) the Report improperly recited the "reasonable and necessary" standard applicable under the Fair Housing Act and 2) the Report erred in its conclusions regarding availability of alternative remedies. (Dkt. 86.)

1) Reasonable and Necessary Accommodation

The Report recommends denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment because questions of fact exist as to whether refrigerated air conditioning is either a necessary or reasonable accommodation under the circumstances presented by those disabilities. (Dkt. 83 at 32-33.)[1] Plaintiffs object arguing the Report misconstrues the "reasonable and necessary" standard applicable to their accommodation request made under the FHA. (Dkt. 86 at 2.)

Plaintiffs contend the Report improperly applied the case of Prindable v. Association of Apt. Owners of 2987 Kalakaua, 304 F.Supp.2d 1245 (D. Hawai'i 2003) by imposing a higher burden of proof on, and/or improperly shifting the burden to, Plaintiffs' to show that the requested accommodation - refrigerated air conditioning - not only provides the necessary relief but also that no other accommodation can provide the same relief. (Dkt. 86 at 2-4.) The correct standard, Plaintiffs argue, requires only a showing that the accommodation can provide the requested relief; i.e., the proper analysis is to review what the requested accommodation provides rather than if other accommodations are also suitable. (Dkt. 86 at 3.) "All that is needed to show that a requested accommodation is reasonable is that a nexus exists between the requested accommodations and the disability." (Dkt. 86 at 4.) Plaintiffs argue they have met the standard here because the refrigerated air conditioning accommodation requested in this case provides the requested accommodation of cool, filtered air.

The FHA makes it unlawful "[t]o discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a handicap of [that person]." 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2)(A). The Report correctly identifies the elements of the prima facie case for a FHA accommodation claim. (Dkt. 83 at 6.) As relevant to this objection, the elements require the Plaintiffs to prove the accommodation of their handicap is necessary and reasonable. (Dkt. 83 at 6.) The arguments in Plaintiffs' objections treat the necessary and reasonable elements as one standard while the Report ...


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