United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard Mark Gergel United States District Court Judge.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs motion for partial
summary judgment as to liability and Defendants' motion
for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court grants in part and denies in part Plaintiffs motion for
partial summary judgment, and grants in part and denies in
part Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
Court's previous findings of fact (Dkt. No. 48) provide
most of the necessary background for this case. Plaintiff is
a single mother of four children. The City of Aiken Housing
Authority ("CAHA") is a public housing agency as
defined in 42 U.S.C. § 1437a(b)(6) and 24 C.F.R. §
982.4(b). CAHA is a federally funded state entity
administering the housing voucher program authorized by
Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. § 1437f.
Section 8 authorizes the payment of rental housing assistance
to private landlords on behalf of low-income households.
Public housing authorities like CAHA receive federal funds
from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) to administer the voucher program. A family issued a
housing voucher is responsible for finding suitable housing
where the owner agrees to rent under the program. The housing
subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the public
housing authority on behalf of the participating family. The
family then pays the difference between the actual rent
charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the
is a participant in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher
("HCV") program managed by CAHA. Plaintiff began
participating in the Section 8 HCV program operated by CAHA
in approximately 2010. On August 1, 2012, Plaintiff entered
into a residential lease agreement with Frances W. Allred for
use of property located at 5018 Trotter Court in Jackson,
South Carolina. When the residential lease expired on July
31, 2013, Plaintiff continued to live at the Trotter Court
property as a month-to-month tenant until July 1, 2016.
2016, Plaintiff received an offer of employment in Fort Mill,
South Carolina and she decided to move to take the offer.
Plaintiff contacted CAHA, which informed her that she must
have her landlord, Mr. Allred, sign a form, referred to as a
'blue form, ' indicating that the tenancy was
terminated. CAHA would need to have that form at least 30
days before Plaintiff moved from 5018 Trotter Court. Between
May 24 and June 7, 2016, Plaintiff attempted unsuccessfully
to procure a signed blue form from Mr. Allred. Plaintiff
asserts Mr. Allred believed that she owed him money under the
lease and that he would not sign the blue form unless she
1, 2016, Plaintiff moved out of the Trotter Court residence.
In July 2016, Plaintiff and Mr. Allred continued to disagree
on the amount of damages Plaintiff would have to pay in order
for Mr. Allred to sign the blue form. CAHA would not provide
Plaintiffs HCV without the signed blue form. Without her HCV,
Plaintiff and her four children were forced to move into her
sister's home in Fort Mill. On July 28, 2016, Defendant
Debra Young, director of the HCV program, received a letter
of representation from Plaintiffs counsel "advising that
he was representing the Plaintiff, setting forth her position
on the dispute with her Landlord, and requesting a grievance
hearing to be scheduled within 14 days." (Dkt. No. 45-1
at 3 ¶ 6.) On August 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed the
present action against Defendants asserting claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of Plaintiff s procedural
due process rights and violation of the South Carolina Unfair
Trade Practices Act ("SCUTPA"). Later on that day,
Ms. Young contacted Plaintiffs counsel "to schedule the
grievance hearing" and was told "that suit had
already been filed in U.S. District Court." (Dkt. No.
45-1 at 3 ¶ 8.) No grievance hearing was ever scheduled.
August 16, 2016, Plaintiff moved for a preliminary
injunction, seeking an order "requiring Defendants to
immediately process Plaintiffs request to move and permit her
to utilize her HCV program rental assistance at an
appropriate home of her choosing." (Dkt. No. 9 at 1.)
The Court granted a preliminary injunction on December 14,
2016. (Dkt. No. 48.) CAHA issued Plaintiff a voucher in
January 2017. Plaintiff ultimately was able to secure housing
with her voucher in April 2017. Plaintiff alleges that she
received no rental assistance under CAHA's HCV program
from July 2016 to April 2017, causing her to move five times
between relatives' homes and a temporary shelter for
judgment is appropriate if a party "shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In other words, summary judgment should
be granted "only when it is clear that there is no
dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the
inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam
Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir.
1987). "In determining whether a genuine issue has been
raised, the court must construe all inferences and
ambiguities in favor of the nonmoving party."
HealthSouth Rehab. Hosp. v. Am. Nat'l Red Cross,
101 F.3d 1005, 1008 (4th Cir. 1996). The party seeking
summary judgment shoulders the initial burden of
demonstrating to the court that there is no genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
the moving party has made this threshold demonstration, the
non-moving party, to survive the motion for summary judgment,
may not rest on the allegations averred in his pleadings.
Id. at 324. Rather, the non-moving party must
demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give
rise to a genuine issue. Id. Under this standard,
"[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice,
nor does a 'mere scintilla of evidence'" in
support of the non-moving party's case. Thompson v.
Potomac Elec. Power Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649 (4th Cir.
2002) (quoting Phillips v. CSX Transp., Inc., 190
F.3d 285, 287 (4th Cir. 1999)).
Section 1983 Claims
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege two elements: (1) "the violation of a right
secured by the Constitution and laws of the United
States" and (2) this violation "was committed by a
person acting under color of state law." West v.
Atkins,487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). A municipality is a
person amenable to suit under § 1983, but municipal
liability requires the plaintiff to show that the municipal
custom or policy deprived a federally protected right.
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs.,436 U.S. 658,
694 (1978). "[C]ourts have found actions of state and
municipal agencies administering federally funded programs to