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McGuire v. Highmark Holdings

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

December 16, 2019

CASSANDRA McGUIRE, Plaintiff,
v.
HIGHMARK HOLDINGS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELI RICHARDSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Cassandra McGuire, a Tennessee resident, filed a pro se complaint against Highmark Holdings, Enfield Management, Robbie King, and Glenda Shamwell. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff also filed an application to proceed in this Court without prepaying fees and costs (Doc. No. 2), as well as supplements to the Complaint regarding her medical condition (Doc. No. 4) and damages (Doc. Nos. 5 and 6). The Complaint is before the Court for an initial review.

         I. Application to Proceed as a Pauper

         The Court may authorize a person to file a civil suit without paying the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Although Plaintiff does not calculate her total monthly expenses and income (Doc. No. 2 at 2, 5), it appears that she does not have sufficient financial resources to pay the $400.00 filing fee in advance. Accordingly, Plaintiff's application (Doc. No. 2) will be granted.

         II. Initial Review

         The Court must review and dismiss any action filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court must also construe a pro se complaint liberally, United States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736, 739 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)), and accept the factual allegations as true unless they are entirely without credibility, see Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)).

         A. Factual Allegations

         In the “Statement of Claim” section of the Complaint form, Plaintiff writes “see attached pages.” (Doc. No. 1 at 4.) There are about eighty pages attached to the Complaint, and most appear to be supporting exhibits. (See Id. at 11-85.) The five pages immediately following the Complaint contain some factual allegations, but there also, Plaintiff incorporates some exhibits by reference. (Id. at 6-7, 9-10.) For the purpose of conducting an initial review, the Court has liberally construed the Complaint and incorporated exhibits to establish the following summary of alleged events. The following alleged facts are taken as true for purposes of this initial screening.

         1. Whispering Oaks Apartments

         Enfield Management Company, LLC (“Enfield Management”) manages property in Nashville, Tennessee, including Whispering Oaks Apartments (“Whispering Oaks”) and Biltmore Place Apartments (“Biltmore Place”). (Id. at 36.) On August 27, 2017, Enfield Management hired Plaintiff as a leasing consultant and assigned her to work at Whispering Oaks. (Id. at 13-15, 36.) While at Whispering Oaks, Plaintiff and five other residents had known disabilities. (Id. at 6.) These were “[m]ainly anxiety disorders, ” (id.), and Plaintiff herself has anxiety and a “chronic blockage in [her] heart.” (Id. at 10.)

         A resident was “not allowed to report drug activity due to his disability.” (Id. at 6.) Other Whispering Oaks employees treated lease applicants improperly in several ways. This includes not allowing one applicant “to fill out an application due to her anxiety, ” and asking her “to provide a full deposit” that was unnecessary for the application process. (Id.) Nell, an assistant manager, “taunted” an applicant who “was not competent to Nell's . . . standards, ” “ridiculed” an applicant “for her hair, ” and “laughed at” an applicant who “could not speak English.” (Id.) Nell's conduct “resulted in a meeting.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff's co-workers called her a “harasser” and “intimidator” and attacked her in meetings. (Id.) This behavior “was accepted by man[a]gers.” (Id.) “[T]he manager notes” reflect that her co-workers' conduct “was to be portrayed as a personality conflict, not anything else.” (Id.) In addition, Enfield Management refused to train Plaintiff. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff eventually sent the owner of the company an e-mail stating that she “couldn't breathe.” (Id. at 6.)

         2. Biltmore Place Apartments

         At some point, Enfield Management transferred Plaintiff to work at Biltmore Place. (Id. at 37.) Here also, management was “aware of [her] disability.” (Id. at 8.) Juan, a manager at Biltmore Place, persistently complained about “law, illegal activity, people with money, poor people, section 8 residents, the residents in general, the District Manager, and” an acquaintance of Plaintiff's who was an attorney in another state. (Id.) Juan was negligent as to public safety and ...


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