United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. Campbell United States District Judge.
Shelly Lachcik and Katherine Fox filed a complaint against
Defendants Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
(“MCBS”), Housing Authority of Maricopa County
(“HAMC”), Gloria Munoz, Jenese Bojorquez, Marifel
Saldana, Keith Quin, and Brad Carr (collectively,
“Defendants”). Doc. 54. Plaintiffs seek
declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief for alleged
violations of the Constitution and federal law. Id.
Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. The
motion is fully briefed (Docs. 87, 89, 91), and no party has
requested oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court will grant Defendants' motion.
HAMC is a public housing authority created under state law
and responsible for administering the Housing Choice Voucher
Program in Maricopa County. Doc. 87 at 2. This federal
program, commonly referred to as the Section 8 program,
offers housing subsidies to low-income families who meet
certain eligibility requirements and comply with specified
obligations. 24 C.F.R. § 982. Defendant MCBS, the
five-member governing board for Maricopa County, is charged
with overseeing HAMC. Doc. 87 at 2; Doc. 1 at 4. Defendants
Gloria Munoz, Jenese Bojorquez, Keith Quin, and Marifel
Saldana are employees of HAMC. Doc. 87 at 2. Defendant Munoz
is the Executive Director, Defendant Bojorquez the supervisor
of the Section 8 program, Defendant Quin a housing
specialist, Defendant Saldana a customer service specialist,
and Defendant Carr a volunteer hearing officer. Id.
Lachick is a former recipient of Section 8 housing
assistance. Id.; Doc. 1 at 4. Plaintiff Fox is
Lachick's mother. Id. In December 2012, Fox
temporarily moved into Lachick's home. Doc. 88, ¶ 2;
Doc. 90 at 1. In early 2013, Plaintiffs submitted a change
report form to HAMC indicating this move. Doc. 88, ¶ 3;
Doc. 90 at 1. Fox earned income in 2013 which she disclosed
on her 2013 tax return. Doc. 88, ¶¶ 4-5; Doc. 90 at
1. Plaintiffs concede that they were aware of their duty
under the Section 8 program to disclose this income to HAMC.
Doc. 88, ¶ 7; Doc. 90 at 1. Plaintiffs did not disclose
Fox's income (Doc. 88, ¶ 8; Doc. 90 at 1-2), and
Lachick alleges that she had no personal knowledge of
Fox's income at the time. Doc. 90 at 2. Plaintiffs
submitted a 2014 recertification packet in late 2013. Doc.
88-1 at 23. In response, Defendants sent a letter to
Plaintiffs on October 25, 2014, requesting a copy of
Fox's 2013 tax return and 2014 self-employment worksheet.
Id. at 42. Plaintiffs submitted these additional
documents, although there is some dispute as to whether they
were submitted immediately after the October 2014 request or
only after a November 2014 follow-up request from Defendants.
Id. at 23; Doc. 90 at 1-2.
receipt of these documents, Defendants recalculated the
benefits to which Plaintiffs were entitled under the Section
8 program and sent a Notification of Debt and Proposed
Termination to Plaintiffs dated May 8, 2015. Doc. 88, ¶
11; Doc. 88-1 at 49. The notification provided: “You
failed to report timely, and properly, Kathy Fox's
self-employment income for 2013. Failure to report all
household income causes the federal government to pay too
much for rental subsidy and is considered fraud. One of your
obligations as a participant on the Housing Choice Voucher
Program is to report changes in household income in a timely
manner.” Doc 88-1 at 49. The notification informed
Plaintiffs that they were required to pay the balance of $1,
718 by June 8, 2015 or their housing assistance would be
terminated. Id. It also informed Plaintiffs of their
right to reply to the notification, to examine documents in
the possession of HAMC directly related to the notification,
and to have an informal hearing on the matter. Id.
Plaintiffs do not dispute that they received this
notification, but allege that the debt calculation was
inaccurate and that the notification did not disclose to whom
the debt belonged or that Plaintiffs had violated a family
obligation under the Section 8 program. Doc. 90 at 2.
18, 2015 Plaintiffs requested an informal hearing. Defendants
mailed Plaintiffs a letter on May, 282016, informing them
that the hearing was scheduled for June 25, 2015 at 3:00 p.m.
and providing them with information about hearing policies.
Doc. 88, ¶ 14; Doc. 88-1 at 54; Doc. 90 at 1. The letter
said: “You have the right to view any documents or
evidence in the possession of [HAMC] upon which the proposed
action is based at your own expense. Request for such
documents or evidence must be received no later than one
business day prior to the hearing date and the request must
be submitted in writing.” Doc. 88-1 at 54. Plaintiffs
assert that they “requested the documents relevant to
the hearing prior to the end of the business day on June
24th, 2015[, ]” in compliance with the procedures. Doc.
90 at 5.
Plaintiffs appeared and gave testimony at the informal
hearing on June 25. Doc. 88, ¶ 20; Doc. 90 at 1. On July
4, 2015, Defendant Carr - the hearing officer - issued a
written decision upholding the termination of Plaintiffs'
housing assistance. Doc. 88, ¶ 21; Doc. 88-1 at 70-72;
Doc. 90 at 1. Plaintiffs do not dispute that “[t]he
documentary evidence relied upon by the hearing officer
consisted of documents that had been sent to Plaintiffs
before the hearing date, signed by Plaintiffs before the
hearing date, or submitted by Plaintiffs before the hearing
date.” Doc. 88, ¶ 23; Doc. 90 at 1.
Plaintiffs' benefits were terminated after Defendant
Carr's decision. Doc. 87 at 4.
seeking summary judgment “bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the
record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Summary judgment is
appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, 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(a). Summary judgment is also appropriate against a party
who “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish
the existence of an element essential to that party's
case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof
at trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
will preclude the entry of summary judgment, and the disputed
evidence must be “such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
bring several claims alleging violations of their Fourteenth
Amendment due process rights and Section 8 of the United
States Housing Act of 1937 (specifically 42 U.S.C. 1437f) and
related regulations. Doc. 54 at 3-4. Pro se Plaintiffs'
summary judgment briefing is sparse and confusing (Docs. 89,
90), but the Court has examined it carefully, along with
Plaintiffs' third amended complaint (Doc. 54), in
attempting to make out their arguments. Plaintiffs'
complaint also confuses the legal bases of their claims, but
it appears that the majority of the claims are brought under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Doc. 54 at 4-11. “To state a
claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must both (1) allege the
deprivation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or
statutory law, and (2) allege that the deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.”
Anderson v. Warner, 451 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir.
Plaintiffs clearly feel aggrieved for having lost their
Section 8 housing subsidy, the Court concludes that they have
failed to present evidence of, or create a triable issue of
fact on, any violation of their constitutional or statutory
rights. They identify various defects in Defendants'
actions, such as a denial of last-minute access to HAMC's
file, erroneous debt calculations, and the fact that one of
them allegedly was excluded from the hearing room for a short
period, but they have identified no violations that rise to
the level of a denial of due process. Nor have they
identified violations of any actionable statutory rights.
They assert that Defendants violated some regulations, but
failed to identify any cause of action for those
contend that they were not given “adequate notice as to
the grounds for termination, with enough specificity so that
[they could] prepare a defense.” Doc. 54 at 5.
Plaintiffs also contend that they were denied the opportunity
to review Defendants' file related to their case.
Id. at 7. Additionally, Plaintiffs argue that
Plaintiff Fox was refused access to the hearing room,
resulting in her inability to cross-examine witnesses whose
testimony was relied on by Defendant Carr. Id. at 8.
Finally, Plaintiffs argue that Defendant Carr failed ...