United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
GERALD BUSHNELL, ET AL.
ARNOLD NATALI, ET AL.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KATHLEEN KAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the court are a Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary
Judgment [doc. 27] filed by defendants Arnold Natali, Holly
Trosclair, and Faye Miller; and a Motion for Summary Judgment
[doc. 41] filed by plaintiffs Gerald Bushnell and Dolores
Bushnell. Both matters are opposed and have been referred to
the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in
accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636.
above motions relate to a suit filed in this court by
plaintiffs, a mother and son, under the Fair Housing
Amendments Act (“FHAA”), 42 U.S.C. § 3601
et seq. Plaintiffs allege that defendants violated
the FHAA by refusing to allow them to jointly enter into a
lease for their apartment in Jennings, Louisiana, either
because of Gerald Bushnell's mental illness or as a
reasonable accommodation for Dolores Bushnell's cancer.
Doc. 1, p. 1.
plaintiffs assert: Gerald Bushnell, who is diagnosed with
schizophrenia and under treatment for that condition with a
physician, has resided at the apartment with his mother,
Dolores,  since April 1994. Id. at 3. At
that time Dolores signed a six-month lease, which listed
Gerald Bushnell as an occupant. Id. The lease was
only valid until October 1994 and reconducted upon its
expiration, when the Bushnells remained in the apartment.
Id. In November 2016 Dolores requested that Gerald
be added to the lease as co-lessee because she had been
diagnosed with cancer. Id. at 4. She was ultimately
informed that her request would be denied because of a fear
that Gerald would not take his medication after Dolores died,
despite the fact that he had been medication-compliant for
over 20 years and has not breached a single term of the lease
in the years he has occupied the apartment. Id. at
Bushnells filed suit in this court on September 11, 2017,
alleging that defendants violated federal law by refusing to
allow Gerald to be on the lease as a reasonable accommodation
for Dolores's cancer or by refusing to lease to him in
his own right because of his schizophrenia.Accordingly, they
seek (1) a declaration that defendants' actions amounted
to a violation of the FHAA and (2) a permanent injunction
“to prevent any further discrimination by
Defendants.” Id. at 9. Id. at 9.
then moved to dismiss the suit or, alternatively, for summary
judgment. Doc. 27. They asserted that Dolores's request
to add Gerald as a co-lessee was not a reasonable
accommodation, and that plaintiffs therefore could not
establish an FHA violation. Doc. 27, att. 2. The court
decided to treat the motion as one for summary judgment and
allow additional time for the parties to conduct discovery
and supplement their briefs. Doc. 38. Plaintiffs then filed
their own motion for summary judgment, alleging that record
evidence supports both of their claimed FHAA violations. Doc.
41. Both motions are opposed and are now ripe for review.
should grant a motion for summary judgment when the movant
shows “that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The party moving for
summary judgment is initially responsible for identifying
portions of pleadings and discovery that show the lack of a
genuine issue of material fact. Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V
Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995). The court must
deny the motion for summary judgment if the movant fails to
meet this burden. Id.
movant makes this showing, however, the burden then shifts to
the non-moving party to “set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505,
2511 (1986) (quotations omitted). This requires more than
mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's
pleadings. Instead, the nonmovant must submit
“significant probative evidence” in support of
his claim. State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman,
896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). “If the evidence is
merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 106 S.Ct.
at 2511 (citations omitted).
may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence
in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 120 S.Ct. 2097, 2110
(2000). The court is also required to view all evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all
reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Clift v.
Clift, 210 F.3d 268, 270 (5th Cir. 2000). Under this
standard, a genuine issue of material fact exists if a