PHA May Be Liable for Actions Against Mentally Disabled Resident
Facts: A resident locked herself in her unit and turned on her gas stove. After police responded to the scene, the resident was removed from the unit and referred for a mental health evaluation. The PHA subsequently terminated the resident's lease and denied her federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher benefits. The former resident sued the PHA and its executive director and Section 8 coordinator, claiming that their actions violated her due process rights and her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The PHA asked the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that the resident failed to state a valid claim.
Ruling: A Pennsylvania district court ordered the trial to continue against the PHA, but dismissed the ADA and FHA claims against the director and coordinator in their individual capacities.
Reasoning: For the procedural due rights claim, the PHA claimed that it fulfilled its responsibilities by giving the resident notice and opportunity to be heard after both the termination of her lease and the denial of her Section 8 application. The PHA's notice stated the grounds for the termination and informed her of her right to examine documentation and request a formal hearing. The court decided that there was a significant gap in both sides' factual accounts. Therefore, a trial was needed concerning what procedures were followed and/or the need for any accommodations based on the resident's disability.
With regard to the resident's ADA claim, the court ruled that it is well settled that individuals can't be sued under the ADA. As for the FHA claim, because the resident didn't allege that the executive director and Section 8 coordinator acted in anything but their official capacities, the court dismissed the resident's fair housing claims against them.
- Brooker v. Altoona Housing Authority et al., March 2012