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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
URBANA DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

          Plaintiff,

v.

LAVERNE BOETTCHER and
BARBARA A. BOETTCHER
TESTAMENTARY FAMILY TRUST,

           Defendants.

Case No. 05-_________

COMPLAINT





The United States of America alleges:

INTRODUCTION

  1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (Fair Housing Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619.
  2. The United States brings this action on behalf of Earlie Andrew and South Suburban Housing Center, pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
  3. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

  4. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
  5. Venue is proper in the Urbana Division of the Central District of Illinois, since the events giving rise to this claim occurred in Kankakee County, Illinois, which is in the Urbana Division. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).
  6. THE SUBJECT PROPERTY

  7. The building located at 860 Stratford Drive East, Bourbonnais, Illinois ("the Subject Property,") is a four-unit residential dwelling, in the Central District of Illinois.
  8. The Subject Property is a dwelling within the meaning of Section 802(b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
  9. THE DEFENDANTS

  10. At all times relevant to the allegations contained herein, Defendant Laverne Boettcher managed the Subject Property.
  11. At all times relevant to the allegations contained herein, Defendant Barbara A. Boettcher Testamentary Family Trust owned the Subject Property, and Defendant Laverne Boettcher was the beneficiary of the Trust.
  12. THE ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINANTS

  13. Complainant Earlie Andrew and his wife, Jennifer Andrew, are the parents of three minor children.
  14. Complainant Southside Suburban Housing Center ("SSHC") is a non-profit fair housing enforcement organization with its principal place of business at 18220 Harwood Avenue, Suite 1, Homewood, Illinois, 60430.
  15. ALLEGATIONS

  16. On or around September 15, 2002, an advertisement for rental appeared in Kankakee's "The Daily Journal," which read as follows: "BOURBONNAIS Briarcliff 3 bdrm, air, attached garage, appliances, 1.5 baths, no pets, lease, deposit. $680/mo 815/697-2146."
  17. Upon information and belief, the phone number (815) 697-2146 is listed to defendant Laverne Boettcher, and he is the only recipient of calls at that number.
  18. On or about September 15, 2002, Complainant Andrew telephoned 815/697-2146 and spoke with an unidentified man. Complainant Andrew inquired whether the three-bedroom unit was still available. The man informed Complainant Andrew that the unit was available. The man then asked how many adults there would be. Complainant Andrew answered that the unit would be for two adults with three children. The man replied that he was looking for "adults only" because older people lived below the available unit. The call ended.
  19. On or about September 16, 2002, Complainant Andrew contacted Complainant SSHC regarding his phone conversation with the man who refused to show or rent the subject unit to him and his family. In response, Complainant SSHC had two fair housing testers contact the defendants and ask about the availability of the Subject Property.
  20. On September 16, 2002, Tester #1 telephoned 815/697-2146 and left a message stating her interest in the three-bedroom apartment advertised for rent. On the same day, an unidentified man returned the tester's phone call. The tester's call identification read "815/697-2146 Boettcher Laver."
  21. During the conversation, Tester #1 indicated her interest in the three-bedroom apartment. Defendant Laverne Boettcher asked the tester who would be occupying the unit. Tester #1 informed him that the unit was for herself, her husband, two children and one "on the way." Defendant Laverne Boettcher responded that the building did not have any children. He stated that a 70 year-old lady lived in the other three-bedroom apartment and that another man working different hours also lived there. Defendant Laverne Boettcher continued by stating that he was trying to keep the building quiet, and that he could not help her.
  22. On September 17 and 18, 2002, Tester #2 telephoned 815/697-2146 and left two messages regarding her interest in the advertised apartment.
  23. On September 18, 2002, a man who identified himself as "Laverne" returned the tester's calls. After Tester #2 indicated her interest in a rental, defendant Laverne Boettcher asked her who would occupy the unit. Tester #2 replied that the unit was for herself and her husband. During the course of the conversation, defendant Laverne Boettcher informed Tester #2 that the rent and security deposit were each $680. He then provided Tester #2 with the address and directions for 860 Stratford Drive East, the Subject Property. An appointment to view the three-bedroom unit was scheduled for later that evening.
  24. That evening, Tester #2 arrived for the scheduled appointment and met defendant Laverne Boettcher. After entering the subject unit, which was still occupied by another tenant, Tester #2 asked defendant Laverne Boettcher when the unit would be available. He replied that the current tenant should be moved out by that weekend.
  25. During the course of the visit, Tester #2 asked whether the neighborhood was quiet. Defendant Laverne Boettcher replied that he tried to limit the building to no children. He remarked that he keeps the building quiet so no one complains.
  26. THE ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINT

  27. On or about October 24, 2002, Complainants Earlie Andrew and SSHC filed complaints of discrimination (HUD Form 903) with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") alleging that Defendants had discriminated against Mr. Andrew on the basis of familial status and that Defendants had discriminated against SSHC on the basis of familial status and race in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
  28. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD ("Secretary") conducted and completed an investigation of the complaints and engaged in conciliation efforts, which were unsuccessful.
  29. Thereafter, the Secretary prepared a final investigative report based upon the information gathered during the investigation, and the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that discriminatory housing practices on the basis of familial status had occurred. HUD issued its Determination of Reasonable Cause on June 27, 2005.
  30. HUD issued its Charge of Discrimination against the Defendants on or about June 27, 2005, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices on the basis of familial status in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.
  31. On or about July 18, 2005, Defendants made a timely election to have the claims resolved in federal court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
  32. Subsequently, on or about July 20, 2005, the Secretary, through the Regional Counsel of HUD, authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of Complainants, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o)(1).
  33. VIOLATIONS OF LAW

  34. Defendants' conduct, described in paragraphs 11-20 above,

    1. a refusal to rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or a refusal to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable or denying a dwelling because of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a) of the Fair Housing Act; and
    2. making or causing to be made a statement with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on familial status, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c) of the Fair Housing Act.

  35. As a result of Defendants' conduct, Complainant Earlie Andrew has suffered damages and is an aggrieved person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
  36. As a result of Defendants' conduct, Complainant SSHC has suffered damages, including frustration of its mission and diversion of its resources away from other fair housing activities in which it would be otherwise engaged, and is an aggrieved person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
  37. The discriminatory actions of Defendants were intentional, willful, or taken in disregard for the rights of Earlie Andrew and SSHC.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that this Court enter an ORDER that:

1. Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of Defendants Laverne Boettcher and Barbara A. Boettcher Testamentary Family Trust, as set forth above, violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.;

2. Enjoins Defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them from discriminating on the basis of familial status pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and

3. Awards monetary damages to the Complainants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1).

The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.

Respectfully submitted,

JAN PAUL MILLER
United States Attorney

s/ James A. Lewis

By: __________________________________
James A. Lewis, NC Bar No. 5470
Attorney for Plaintiff
United States Attorney's Office
318 South Sixth Street
Springfield, IL 62701
Telephone: 217/492-4450
Fax: 217/492-4888
email: jim.lewis2@usdoj.gov


Document Filed: August 10, 2005
General Information Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
 
Leadership
Steven H. Rosenbaum
Chief
Contact
Housing & Civil
Enforcement Section
(202) 514-4713
TTY - 202-305-1882
FAX - (202) 514-1116
To Report an Incident of Housing Discrimination:
1-800-896-7743
Mailing Contact
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, NWB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Email: fairhousing@usdoj.gov

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