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Walker v. South Carolina Regional Housing Development Corporation No. 1

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

December 8, 2016

Alquetta Walker, Plaintiff,
v.
South Carolina Regional Housing Development Corporation No. 1, d/b/a South Carolina Regional Housing Authority No. 1; Brian Griswell, in his official capacity as Executive Director of South Carolina Regional Housing Development Corporation No., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Jacquelyn D. Austin, United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on a motion for preliminary injunction. [Doc. 6.] Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2), D.S.C., this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in this case and to submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.

         Plaintiff filed a motion for preliminary injunction on September 13, 2016.[1] [Doc. 6.] Defendants filed a response to Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction on December 5, 2016. [Doc. 20.] Plaintiff filed a reply on that same day. [Doc. 21.] Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion is ripe for review.

         BACKGROUND[2]

         Plaintiff is a low-income disabled mother of four and a resident of Elmwood Circle Apartments, a federally-subsidized housing complex owned and operated by Defendants. [Doc. 6-1 at 1.] By letter dated July 14, 2016, Defendant South Carolina Regional Housing Authority No. 1 (“SCRHA1”) advised Plaintiff that her lease at Edgewood Circle Apartments was being terminated effective August 31, 2016, because Plaintiff had allowed an unauthorized person to live in her apartment and she had caused disturbances for other residents. [Id.] A grievance hearing was held on August 9, 2016. [Id.] By letter dated August 31, 2016, Plaintiff was informed that she was required to vacate her apartment by September 10, 2016. [Id.] Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Fourteenth Amendment. [Doc. 1.] Plaintiff seeks a preliminary injunction requiring Defendants to refrain from taking further action to terminate her tenancy at Edgewood Circle Apartments during the pendency of this action.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         Requirements for a Preliminary Injunction

         A preliminary injunction “protect[s] the status quo . . . to prevent irreparable harm during the pendency of a lawsuit [and] ultimately to preserve the court's ability to render a meaningful judgment on the merits.” In re Microsoft Corp. Antitrust Litigation, 333 F.3d 517, 525 (4th Cir. 2003). It is “an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Coucil, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 23 (2008) (citing Munaf v. Green, 553 U.S. 674, 689-90 (2008)). To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must show four elements:

1) she is likely to succeed on the merits,
2) she will suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction is not granted,
3) the balance of equities favors her, and 4) the injunction is in the public interest.

Id. at 20; see also Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 575 F.3d 342, 345-47 (4th Cir. 2009) (explaining how the Winter standard for preliminary injunctions is different from the standard previously applied in the Fourth Circuit), judgment vacated and remanded, 130 S.Ct. 2371 (2010), in light of Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010).

         Under Winter, the Supreme Court requires “that the plaintiff make a clear showing that she will likely succeed on the merits at trial.” Real Truth About Obama, 575 F.3d at 346 (citing Winter, 555 U.S. at 20). Moreover, the party seeking the injunction must make a clear showing that it will likely suffer irreparable harm without an injunction. Id. at 347 (citing Winter, 555 U.S. at 20). Further, the Supreme Court in Winter emphasized the public interest requirement, requiring courts to pay “‘particular regard for the public ...


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