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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

CA No. 9:99CV287

DWAIN CHRISTOPHER,      Defendant

______________________________


COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Rhonda Fawcett, and her minor children pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

  3. Rhonda Fawcett is a white female, and two of her children are bi-racial (black/white). Rhonda Fawcett and her children are residents of the State of Texas.

  4. Defendant Dwain Christopher is a resident of the State of Texas and is the owner of a single-family dwelling located at FM 225, Route 3; Box 2400; Nacogdoches, TX 75964 ("the house"), which defendant rents to the public.

  5. Defendant receives federal funds through the Section 8 rental assistance program, through which he has rented the house both prior to and subsequent to the events at issue here.

  6. On or about February 26, 1998, Rhonda Fawcett filed a timely complaint alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of race or color with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). That complaint was amended on March 16, 1999. In her complaint, Ms. Fawcett alleged, inter alia, that on or about July 21, 1997, defendant discriminated against her and her children when he refused to rent the house to her on the basis of race or color.

  7. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of Ms. Fawcett's complaints, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared final investigative reports. Based on the information gathered in the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on August 31, 1999, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendant with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

  8. On or about September 23, 1999, Defendant elected to have the Charge resolved in a civil action in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).

  9. Following this election, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

  10. As alleged in the HUD complaint described in paragraph 6 above, on or about July 21, 1997 defendant showed Ms. Fawcett the house, agreed to rent it to her, and instructed her to have her Section 8 counselor, Sharon Conner, call him about the rental. However, when Ms. Conner called defendant, approximately 30 minutes later, defendant stated that he would not rent to Ms. Fawcett because he was concerned for the safety of the house and the Fawcetts due to the racial composition of Ms. Fawcett's family and the fact that the house was located in an all white, "red neck" community. He informed Ms. Conner that he was taking the house off the market.

  11. The conduct of defendant described in the previous numbered paragraph constitutes:

    1. A refusal to rent after making a bona fide offer, a refusal to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable or denying dwellings to persons because of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a); and

    2. The making of a statement with respect to rental of a dwelling that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race or color or an intention to make such preference, limitation, or discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).

  12. Rhonda Fawcett and her five minor children are aggrieved persons, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of the Defendant's conduct described above.

  13. The discriminatory actions of the defendant were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Rhonda Fawcett and her five minor children.

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

  1. Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of Defendant as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.;

  2. Enjoins the Defendant, any agents, employees, and successors he may have, and all other persons in active concert or participation with him from discriminating on the basis of race or color against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;

  3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate Rhonda Fawcett and her five minor children for injuries caused by Defendant's discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and

  4. Awards punitive damages to Rhonda Fawcett and her five minor children 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.


JANET RENO
Attorney General

Mathey D. Orwig
Assistant United States Attorney
660 N. Central Expressway
Ste. 400
Plano, TX 75074
(972) 509-1201
(972) 509-1209 (fax)
Texas Bar No. 15325300

Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

Joan A. Magagna
Acting Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

Brian F. Heffernan
Myron S. Lehtman
Attorneys
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
(202) 514-4738
(202) 514-1116 (fax)


Document Filed: October 25, 1999

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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