IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CA No. 9:99CV287
The United States of America alleges:
- 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).
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28
U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Following this election, the Secretary of HUD authorized
the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 3612(o).
- 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 conduct of defendant described in the previous
numbered paragraph constitutes:
- 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. §
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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.;
- 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;
- 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
- 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.
Mathey D. Orwig
Assistant United States Attorney
660 N. Central Expressway
Plano, TX 75074
(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
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
(202) 514-1116 (fax)
Document Filed: October 25, 1999