The United States Department of Justice Department of Justice SealF The United States Department of Justice
Search The Site
 

HCE Cases black banner

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EASTERN DIVISION



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

          Plaintiff,

No.

v.

CHATEAU VILLAGE APARTMENTS
L.L.C., BANNER PROPERTY
MANAGEMENT, INC., and ANITA ZUBOR,

          Defendants.



CONSENT DECREE

The United States files this Consent Decree together with its complaint (the "Complaint") on behalf of Wendy Walsh and HOPE Fair Housing Center against Chateau Village Apartments, L.L.C., Banner Property Management, Inc., and Anita Zubor, to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. The United States brought its complaint following a Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination (the "Determination") issued by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and a timely notice of election filed by Defendants. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o).

Defendants Chateau Village Apartments, L.L.C., Banner Property Management, Inc., and Anita Zubor (the "Defendants") are the owners and managers of Chateau Village Apartments (the "Property"), a multifamily apartment complex consisting of 210 units, located in Carol Stream, Illinois. As explained in more detail below, the Defendants vigorously deny the allegations in the Complaint and the Determination.



I.    Allegations and Denials

1. The United States alleged in its Complaint that Wendy Walsh ("Ms. Walsh") is a person with a disability within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).

2. The United States further alleged that HOPE Fair Housing is a non-profit fair housing organization located in Wheaton, Illinois, which, among other activities, assists persons who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination in pursuing their rights.

3. The United States alleged that Defendants violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(1)(A), (f)(2)(A) and (f)(3)(B) by refusing to make a requested accommodation when such accommodation was reasonable and necessary to afford Ms. Walsh an equal opportunity to use and enjoy her dwelling.

4. The United States alleged that HOPE Fair Housing Center spent time and resources assisting Ms. Walsh in her effort to obtain a reasonable accommodation and with her complaint to HUD, diverting resources from its other activities.

5. The United States alleged that, as a result of Defendants' unlawful conduct, Wendy Walsh and HOPE Fair Housing Center suffered damages.

6. The Defendants vigorously deny all of the allegations asserted against them in the Complaint and the Determination and contend that at all times, they operated their Property in compliance with the Fair Housing Act and all applicable regulations of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

II.    Agreement to Settle Matter

Notwithstanding the forgoing allegations and denials, the parties believe that it is their mutual best interest to resolve this matter immediately and without further litigation. In doing so, the parties agree that there shall be no finding of fault or admission of liability or wrongdoing by or among any of the parties with respect to the matters in the Complaint or the Determination. (1)

III.    Affirmative Relief

A. Order

Defendants, their employees, agents, and all persons in active concert or participation with them shall be enjoined from:

a. Discriminating in the rental, or otherwise making unavailable or denying a dwelling to any renter because of disability in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1)(A);

b. Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2)(A);

c. Refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford all residents with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B).

B. Reasonable Accommodation Policy

1. Within sixty (60) days after the date of entry of this Decree, subject to the approval of the United States, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld, Defendants shall adopt and implement specific written guidelines for receiving and handling requests made by tenants or applicants for tenancy at the Property with disabilities for reasonable accommodations. These guidelines shall comply with the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq., and include the following elements:

a. A provision describing where and how requests for accommodations in Defendants' rules, policies, practices or services are to be accepted and processed at the Property;

b. A provision stating that each request for reasonable accommodation and response thereto shall be fully documented by Defendants;

c. A provision stating that all requests for accommodation shall be acknowledged, in writing, within seven (7) days of any defendant's receipt of an oral or written request; however, Defendants reserve the right (i) in the case of an oral request to seek written statement or confirmation of the request and (ii) to request information to allow the Defendants to determine (a) the specific disability asserted, (b) the specific accommodation requested, and (c) the relation between the asserted disability and the requested accommodation;

d. A provision stating that those requesting a reasonable accommodation shall be notified in writing of the decision regarding their request for accommodation within twenty-one (21) days of any Defendant's receipt of the request; if a request is denied, an explanation of the basis for such denial shall be included in this written notification;

e. A provision stating that the final written decision regarding the reasonable accommodation request will be retained in Defendants' files;

f. A provision stating that Defendants shall consider all such requests for accommodations because of disability and shall grant those requests that are reasonable and may be necessary within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act; and

g. A provision stating that Defendants shall not impose any additional fees or costs (except as may be allowed by applicable law or regulation), or otherwise retaliate against any person who has exercised his or her right under the Fair Housing Act at the Property to make one or more reasonable accommodation requests and, if applicable, receive a reasonable accommodation.

2. Within ninety (90) days of the date of entry of this Decree, Defendants shall provide a copy of the Reasonable Accommodation Policy for Persons with Disabilities to each current Chateau Village Apartment tenant.

3. For the duration of this Decree, Defendants shall provide a copy of the Reasonable Accommodation Policy for Persons with Disabilities to each new Chateau Village Apartment tenant within ten (10) days of the beginning of the tenancy.

4. Defendants shall keep written records of each request for reasonable accommodation they receive from tenants or applicants for tenancy at the Property during the duration of this Consent Decree. These records shall include: (a) the name, address, and telephone number of the person making the request; (b) the date on which the request was received; (c) the nature of the request; (d) whether the request was granted or denied; and (e) if the request was denied, the reason(s) for the denial.

5. Defendants shall post the Reasonable Accommodation Policy by which a tenant may request a reasonable accommodation in the Property's leasing office in a conspicuous location, easily viewable to tenants and prospective tenants.

6. If, during the duration of this decree, Defendants propose to change these guidelines, they shall first notify the United States with a copy of the proposed changes. If the United States does not deliver written objections to the Defendants within thirty (30) days of receiving the proposed changes, the changes may be effected. If the United States makes any objections to the proposed changes within the thirty (30) day period, the specific changes to which the United States objects shall not be effected until the objections are resolved.

C. Notice to Employees

1. Within ten (10) days after the date of entry of this Decree, Defendants shall inform each of their employees, agents or any other persons who have responsibility for the management and/or maintenance of dwellings at the Property of such person's obligations under this Consent Decree and under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq. Defendants shall furnish each such employee, agent, or other person covered by this paragraph with a copy of this Consent Decree. Each such employee, agent, or other person covered by this paragraph shall sign a statement in the form of Attachment A, acknowledging that he or she has received, read, and understood a copy of this Consent Decree, and declaring that he or she will perform his or her duties in accordance with this Consent Decree and the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.

2. During the term of this Agreement, new employees or new agents who have responsibility for the management and/or maintenance of dwellings at the Property shall be informed of the contents of this Consent Decree and of their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq., when their employment commences; be provided a copy of this Consent Decree; and execute the statement appended hereto as Attachment A no later than five (5) calendar days following their first day of employment.

D. Fair Housing Notice

Within ninety (90) days after the entry of this Order, Defendants shall post and maintain in the Property's leasing office a HUD fair housing poster no smaller than 11 inches by 14 inches that indicates that all apartments are available for rent on a nondiscriminatory basis. The poster shall be in compliance with regulations promulgated by HUD and described in 24 C.F.R. §110.25.

E. Training

1. Within thirty (30) days after the date of entry of this Decree, Defendants shall provide verification of any educational training concerning the sections of the Fair Housing Act pertaining to discrimination on the basis of disability previously received by their employees and agents whose duties, in whole or in part, involve supervisory authority over the rental and management of dwellings at the Property. All such employees and agents who have not received such training shall attend an educational training program concerning the sections of the Fair Housing Act pertaining to discrimination on the basis of disability within ninety (90) days after the date of entry of this decree. This training shall be conducted by a qualified third party unaffiliated with Defendants or their employees or agents, subject to approval by the United States. Defendants shall provide to the United States, within thirty (30) days after the training, the name(s), address(es) and telephone number(s) of the trainer(s) and certifications executed by the trainers confirming the attendance of the trainee(s).

2. During the period in which this Decree is in effect, each new employee or agent of Defendants who has supervisory authority over the rental and management of dwellings at the Property shall attend, after his or her hiring, the next practicable training session conducted by the training entity.

3. All costs and expenses related to the training requirements of this Consent Decree shall be the sole responsibility of Defendants.

IV.     Reporting Requirements

1. Defendants shall, no later than ninety (90) days after the date of entry of this Consent Decree, serve upon counsel for the United States a written report. (2) This report shall consist of the following:

a. Copies of the statements signed by any and all employees pursuant to Section III(C) of this Consent Decree;

b. Copies of certification of attendance at fair housing educational programs pursuant to Section III(E) of this Consent Decree.

2. Six (6) months, fifteen (15) months, twenty-four (24) months and thirty-three (33) months after the date of entry of this Consent Decree, Defendants shall serve on counsel for the United States a written report. In each report required under this paragraph, Defendants shall:

a. Provide copies of statements signed by any new employees pursuant to Section III(C) of this Consent Decree;

b. Provide copies of certification of attendance at fair housing educational programs for any new employees pursuant to Section III(E) of this Consent Decree;

c. Notify counsel for the United States of any request they have received for reasonable accommodation. Such notification shall include information contained in Section III(B)(1)(d);

d. Notify counsel for the United States of any written complaint that involves housing discrimination on the basis of disability at the Property which has come to the attention of Defendants or any of their employees, agents or other representatives in the preceding reporting period. A request for a reasonable accommodation and ongoing negotiations pertaining thereto shall not be considered a "written complaint" for purposes of this paragraph. Defendants shall include a copy of the complaint and any records relating to the complaint, including those relating to the resolution of the complaint; and

e. Notify counsel for the United States upon any change in the ownership or management of the Chateau Village Apartments. Such notification shall include the address and the name of any new owner or manager.

V.     Inspection of Documents

For the duration of this Decree, Defendants shall preserve all records pertaining to their obligations under this Decree. Upon reasonable notice to Defendants' counsel, representatives of the United States Attorney's Office shall be permitted to inspect during regular business hours and copy all such records in order to monitor Defendants' compliance with this Decree.

VI.     Monetary Relief

Defendants shall pay a total of thirty-seven thousand, five hundred dollars ($37,500.00) to Wendy Walsh and HOPE Fair Housing. This amount shall be paid as follows:

1. Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this Consent Decree, the Wendy Walsh Special Needs Trust shall be established. The sole beneficiary of the trust will be Wendy Walsh. The United States will notify Defendants of the establishment of the Wendy Walsh Special Needs Trust. Within ten (10) days of such notification, Defendants will pay to the Wendy Walsh Special Needs Trust the total sum of thirty-three thousand dollars ($33,000). This amount will be paid by check, made payable to the Wendy Walsh Special Needs Trust, and delivered to counsel for the United States.

2. Within fourteen (14) days of the effective date of this Consent Decree, Defendants shall pay to HOPE Fair Housing Center the total sum of four thousand five hundred dollars ($4,500.00). This amount shall be paid by check, made payable to HOPE Fair Housing Center, and delivered to counsel for the United States.

3. Wendy Walsh and HOPE Fair Housing Center have agreed to the terms of the Release Agreements attached hereto as Attachment B and shall, respectively, within ten (10) days of the United States' receipt of each check, sign the Release Agreements attached hereto as Attachment B. Counsel for the United States shall not forward the checks to Wendy Walsh and HOPE Fair Housing Center until the United States has received said executed Release Agreements from Wendy Walsh and HOPE Fair Housing Center and a copy of the Consent Decree entered by this Court. The United States shall forward the executed Release Agreements to Defendants upon receipt.

VII.     Scope and Term of Decree and Dismissal of Action

1. This Decree constitutes the entire agreement among the parties and supersedes and renders void all prior agreements, written or oral, among the parties. In the event any provision or term of this Decree is determined to be or is rendered invalid or unenforceable, all other provisions and terms of the Decree shall remain unaffected to the extent permitted by law.

2. This Decree is effective immediately upon its entry by the Court and shall be effective for a period of three (3) years thereafter.

3. The Court shall retain jurisdiction for the duration of this Decree to enforce the terms of the Decree, after which time the case shall be dismissed with prejudice.

4. Each party shall bear its own attorneys' fees and costs.



It is so ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED on this ______ day of _____________, 2005.



________________________________
United States District Judge



Agreed to by the parties as indicated by the signatures of counsel below.




For Defendants Chateau Village Apartments,
L.L.C; Banner Property Management, Inc.; and Anita Zubor:



_____________________________
HARRY J. KELLY
Nixon Peabody LLP
Suite 900
401 9th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 585-8712
For Plaintiff United States:

PATRICK J. FITZGERALD

______________________________
United States Attorney

By:______________________
JOAN LASER
Assistant United States Attorney
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois


Attachment A

EMPLOYEE ACKNOWLEDGMENT

I have received and I have read a copy of the Consent Decree entered in United States v. Chateau Village Apartments, L.L.C.; Banner Property Management, Inc., and Anita Zubor, No. ______, United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois. I understand the terms of that Consent Decree.

I further understand that federal law prohibits refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodation may be necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy his/her dwelling.

With this understanding, I agree that, as a condition of my employment or contract relationship with Chateau Village Apartments with respect to the management and/or maintenance of residential housing, I shall not discriminate in any manner on account of disability in violation of federal law or regulation in carrying out my employment or contract services.

_________________________________
Signature

_________________________________
Name (Please Print)

_________________________________
Home Address

_________________________________
Home Telephone Number

_________________________________
Date




Attachment B-1

RELEASE AGREEMENT

In consideration of and contingent upon the payment of the sum of thirty-three thousand dollars ($ 33,000.00), pursuant to the Consent Decree entered in United States v. Chateau Village Apartments, L.L.C.; Banner Property Management, Inc.; and Anita Zubor, No. ______, United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, I hereby release and forever discharge the Defendants named in this action from any and all liability for any claims, legal or equitable, I may have against them arising out of the issues alleged in this action as of the date of the entry of that Consent Decree. I fully acknowledge and agree that this release of the Defendants shall be binding on my heirs, representatives, executors, successors, administrators, and assigns. I hereby acknowledge that I have read and understand this release and have executed it voluntarily and with full knowledge of its legal consequences.

_______________________________
Wendy Walsh, Complainant

Dated: ________________


Attachment B-2

RELEASE AGREEMENT

In consideration of and contingent upon the payment of the sum of four thousand five hundred dollars ($ 4,500.00), pursuant to the Consent Decree entered in United States v. Chateau Village Apartments, L.L.C.; Banner Property Management, Inc.; and Anita Zubor, No. ______, United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, HOPE Fair Housing Center hereby releases and forever discharges the Defendants named in this action from any and all liability for any claims, legal or equitable, it may have against them arising out of the issues alleged in this action as of the date of the entry of that Consent Decree. It fully acknowledges and agrees that this release of the Defendants shall be binding on its heirs, representatives, executors, successors, administrators, and assigns. I hereby acknowledge that I have read and understand this release and have executed it voluntarily and with full knowledge of its legal consequences.

______________________________
[Name and Title]
on behalf of HOPE Fair Housing, Complainant

Dated:________________




1. Based on Defendants' representation that Defendant Anita Zubor is no longer an employee of the other Defendants or otherwise involved in the management of Chateau Village Apartments, the requirements of sections III.B, III.C, III.D, IV and V shall not apply to her.

2. All documents or other communications required by this Consent Decree to be sent to the United States or counsel for the United States shall be sent to United States Attorney's Office, Civil Division, 219 South Dearborn, Chicago, Illinois 60604.

Document Filed: April 19, 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

Stay Connected YouTube MySpace Twitter Facebook Sign Up for E-Mail Updates Subscribe to News Feeds