Resident Fails to Make Due Process Case in Eviction
Facts: In April 2003, the Philadelphia Housing Authority gave a resident a notice of lease termination. The housing authority said the resident had done three things that violated her lease:
She allowed her son to live with her without the approval of management;
She did not maintain the premises in a safe, clean, and sanitary condition; and
She lashed out at two site managers and physically struck them.
In November 2003, a municipal court arbitrator ruled that the resident had breached a condition of her lease and allowed the housing authority to proceed with eviction. According to the resident, when housing authority personnel removed the resident from her home, they confiscated some of her personal property, including her wheelchair, and denied her access to the unit to retrieve medication. Without the medication, she had to be hospitalized. The resident later claimed in court that the housing authority violated her due process rights by failing to properly train and supervise its employees in how to evict a resident with disabilities.
Decision: The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed the resident's case.
Reasoning: The resident submitted no evidence that her eviction was not executed in accordance with state or federal procedures. The court said that it could not rely “upon bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions” that were not supported by evidence. However, the resident did not provide this evidence. She did not back up her claim that the housing authority confiscated her property during her eviction. Even if she had, to prove a due process violation, she would also have had to show that the confiscation was the result of an official policy or custom of the housing authority, rather than an independent action of the staff members who moved her belongings.
- Watson v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, June 2009