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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

Case No. 00-3832

Ghanashyambhai M. Patel and
Joyitshana G. Patel, d/b/a
Econo-Lodge Motel
     Defendant.

___________________________________


CONSENT ORDER

THIS MATTER came before the Court on the parties' Joint Motion to Enter Consent Order. The Court having reviewed the Motion and the file in this matter, and being otherwise duly advised in the premises thereof, finds as follows:

  1. INTRODUCTION

  1. On October 18, 2000, the Plaintiff, United States of America filed this action against the defendants, Ghanashyambhai M. Patel and Joyitshana G. Patel, the owners and/or operators of the Econo Lodge Motel, located at 553 N.E. 1st Avenue, Florida City, Florida, pursuant to Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Public Accommodations Act"), 42 U.S.C. §2000a, seeking a permanent injunction against the defendants from engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of race in the operation of their business.

  2. The complaint alleges that the defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of denying African-Americans the full and equal enjoyment of rights secured to them under 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000a et. seq., in the operation of the Econo Lodge Motel. Specifically, the United States alleges that the Defendants and their employees and/or agents, have implemented a policy and practice of denying African-American persons, on the basis of their race and color, the full and equal enjoyment of the facilities, services and accommodations of the Econo-Lodge Motel on the same basis as such facilities, services and accommodations are provided to white persons. This policy and practice has been implemented, among other ways, as follows:

    1. Assigning African-American persons to specifically designated rooms and/or areas of the motel because of their race and color;

    2. Refusing to accommodate the preferences of African-American guests in the location and options or other amenities of their hotel room; and

    3. Charging African-American persons a higher price for a room than white persons.

  3. Defendants deny all material allegations of the complaint, and specifically have denied that they discriminated against any person on account of their race or color.

  1. PURPOSES OF THIS CONSENT ORDER

  1. The parties have entered into this Consent Order for the following purposes:

    1. To ensure, by means set forth in this Order, that all persons, regardless of race or color, are accorded equal treatment at the Econo Lodge;

    2. To amicably resolve all claims of the United States; and

    3. To avoid the expenses and the uncertainties of litigation.

  1. JURISDICTION, SCOPE, AND TERM OF CONSENT ORDER

  1. The parties have consented to the entry of this Order. To this end, the parties stipulate, and the Court finds that this Court has personal jurisdiction over all the Defendants for purposes of this action and jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §2000a-6(a), and 28 U.S.C. §1345.

  2. The provisions of this Consent Order shall apply to the Defendants, their employees, agents, anyone acting under their direction, and all those acting in concert or participation with any of them. This Consent Order addresses all conduct that the Plaintiffs allege occurred at the Econo Lodge Motel, located at 553 N.E. 1st Avenue, Florida City, Florida, up to the date of this Consent Order. In the event the name of the Econo Lodge Motel changes during the term of this Consent Order, this Consent Order shall continue to apply to the property now known as the Econo Lodge. To the extent the named Defendants, or other persons or entities have ownership or management interests in any other hotel or lodging establishment or properties, these Defendants or other persons or entities remain fully liable for any and all claims that may have occurred out of conduct at any other such property.

  3. This Consent Order is effective immediately upon its entry by the Court and shall be effective through December 31, 2003.

  4. The Court shall retain jurisdiction over this action and over all Defendants through December 31, 2003, to ensure compliance with all provisions of this Consent Order.

  5. The parties to this Consent Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation and compliance with this Consent Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution, and shall certify in writing that such attempts have been made prior to resorting to the Court.

  6. If no action is taken by the United States of America, this Consent Order shall terminate and the Defendants shall be released from all obligations contained within this Consent Order. If an objection to termination is filed based on conduct occurring after the Consent Order is entered, the Court shall hold a hearing on the objection and the burden shall be on the Plaintiffs to demonstrate why this Order should not be terminated. If Plaintiffs fail to meet their burden or if no objection is timely filed, this Consent Order shall terminate forthwith.

  1. NON-ADMISSION OF LIABILITY

  1. By entering into this Consent Order, Defendants do not admit to any violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Public Accommodations Act"), 42 U.S.C. §2000a, and nothing in this Consent Order shall be deemed to be or construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing. Notwithstanding the foregoing, all documents obtained from the Defendants prior to filing this action shall be deemed to be discovery obtained pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in any subsequent litigation under the Public Accommodations Act involving any of the defendants herein. Defendants reserve all objections except that the documents were obtained in another lawsuit. Otherwise, this Consent Order may not be used as evidence of any violation of the Public Accommodations Act or 42 U.S.C. § §2000a.

  1. INJUNCTION

  1. It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that Defendants, their agents, employees, successors in interest, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, are hereby enjoined from doing any of the following:

    1. Failing to refusing to lease rooms at the Econo-Lodge Motel in Florida City, Florida, or any other place of public accommodation owned and/or operated by the defendants, to African-American persons on the same basis and under the same conditions as such rooms are leased to white persons;

    2. Failing or refusing to ensure that all of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of the Econo-Lodge Motel in Florida City, Florida, or any other place of public accommodation owned and/or operated by the Defendants, to African-American persons on the same basis as they are made available to and used by white persons and under the same conditions as they are made available to and used by white persons.

    3. Engaging in any act or practice, which deprives directly or indirectly any persons, on the basis of their race or color, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of the Econo-Lodge Motel in Florida City, Florida, or any other place of public accommodation owned and/or operated by the Defendants, including assigning African-American persons to specifically designated rooms and/or areas of the motel, and charging African-American persons higher rates than is charged white persons; and

    4. Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to eliminate the effects of its past racial discrimination, and to post appropriate notices or otherwise inform the general public that the facilities and services of the Econo-Lodge in Florida City, Florida are available to members of the general public without regard to race or color.

  2. It is agreed by the parties, and it is hereby ORDERED, that:

    1. This Consent Order shall be binding with respect to any other place of public accommodation presently owned, managed or controlled by Defendants, and shall continue to be binding with respect to said business establishments if they are transferred or assigned only to the extent such transferees or assignees are related to the Defendants, Ghanashyambhai M. Patel and Joyitshana G. Patel by blood or marriage, or any entity owned or controlled by the Defendants. Any individual or entity subject to the injunction at paragraph 12 who no longer has any ownership, management, or controlling interest of any kind whatsoever in any of the places of public accommodations subject to this Consent Order shall no longer be subject to the provisions of paragraph 12 of this Consent Order;

    2. Any notices or certifications pertaining to the terms and conditions of this Consent Order to be sent to the United States of America shall be sent to Veronica Harrell-James, Assistant U.S. Attorney, 99 N.E. 4th Street, 6th Floor, Miami, Florida 33132, or to any person designated by the United States of America as her replacement; and

    3. Any notices pertaining to the terms and conditions of this Consent Order to be made to the Defendants shall be sent to Defendants' attorney or to the person, designated by the Defendants, as his replacement.

  1. NOTICE TO PUBLIC OF NONDISCRIMINATORY POLICIES

  1. It is ORDERED that within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Order, the defendants shall take steps to notify the public of their nondiscriminatory policies as follows:

    1. Prominently post in the lobby at the Econo-Lodge motel, and all other places of public accommodation owned , managed, leased or operated by the defendants, a sign no smaller than 10 inches by 13 inches which indicates that all motel rooms are available on a nondiscriminatory basis. A copy of the poster appended to this Consent Order as Attachment A will satisfy this requirement;

    2. Post a notice of Defendants' nondiscriminatory policies, as described Section XII of this Consent Order, the lobby of the Econo-Lodge and other places of public accommodation owned, managed, leased or operated by the defendants. Copies of this notice shall be made available upon request to all persons who inquire about lodging at the facilities.

    3. Within ten (10) days of the hiring of other persons to manage or perform other services at the Econo-Lodge Motel, Defendants shall give written notice of their policy of nondiscrimination and of all the obligations of Defendants, their employees and agents under the terms of this Consent Order. Such persons shall be further advised that violation of this Consent Order could subject them to termination of the employment relationship with Defendants and to possible sanctions by this Court. The parties agree that the notice in the form set forth in Attachment B shall satisfy Defendants' obligation under this paragraph.

  1. TRAINING OF EMPLOYEES

  1. It is ORDERED that within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Consent Order, defendants shall conduct and complete an educational program for all their employees and/or agents who are involved in the management and operation of the Econo-Lodge. This program shall include informing each employee of his or her duties and obligations under this Consent Order as well as his or her duties and obligations under the Public Accommodations Act. Such program shall also include:

    1. Providing each such agent and employee with a copy of the Notice set forth in Attachment B, summarizing Defendants' policies of nondiscrimination under the terms of this Consent Order, and informing each such agent or employee, in person or by general meeting, of the duties of Defendants and their agents and employees pursuant to these policies, and what disciplinary measures might be taken in the event of noncompliance, including possible sanctions by this Court.

    2. Providing a copy of the Public Accommodations Act to each such agent or employee whose duties include management of the motel, motel guests reservations and registration, and the cleaning of motel rooms, as well as employees who supervise the work of any such employees.

    3. Mandatory training of each person currently employed or hired by Defendants during the duration of this Consent Order, who is involved in the management of the motel, motel guests reservations and registration, and the cleaning of motel rooms, as well as employees who supervise the work of any such employees. The training shall include at least the following: (1) instructions on the requirements of the federal Public Accommodations Act; (2) a review of the defendants' nondiscriminatory policies and of the specific requirements of this Consent Order; and (3) instructions in procedures to ensure that race does not enter into the process of assigning motel rooms or accommodating a guest's preferences in the location, options or other amenities of their room. The expense of the training shall be borne by the Defendants. The first training session shall be held within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Consent Order. Training sessions for new employees shall be conducted by the Defendants within ten (10) days of their initial hiring for the duration of this Consent Order. At the end of each training session, the Defendants and each employee who attends the training, shall sign a statement in the form set forth in Attachment C (Employee Acknowledgment).

  1. NONDISCRIMINATORY STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES

  1. It is further ORDERED that:

    1. The Defendants shall, upon entry of this Consent Order, and throughout its term, apply objective, uniform, racially nondiscriminatory standards and shall follow a uniform written procedure in accepting reservations and registering hotel guests. The Defendants have established and agree to comply with specific race-neutral standards, policies and procedures for the operation of the Econo-Lodge during the term of this Consent Order, which consists of those set forth in Attachment B hereto.

    2. Notice of any changes in the hotel registration procedures at Econo-Lodge shall be provided to the United States within three (3) business days after implementation. If the United States of America objects, the United States of America and the Defendants shall attempt to resolve any dispute within ten (10) business days (or some mutually agreeable date) of notice by the United States of America that it objects to any such change. If the parties are unable to resolve the dispute within the ten (10) business day period (or some mutually agreeable date), then the United States of America can present the issue to the Court for resolution. The setting of hotel room rates shall not be deemed part of "rental policies," and Defendants are free to set any rental rates they choose so long as they are charged without regard to race or color.

  1. MAINTENANCE OF RECORDS

  1. It is further ORDERED that until termination of the Consent Order, as set forth in Section III of this Consent Order, Defendants shall preserve and maintain the following records for the Econo-Lodge Motel:

    1. Guest Daily Balance Reports

    2. Guest Arrival Report

    3. Guest Departure Report

    4. Housekeeping Reports

    5. Transaction Report by User

    6. Reservation Records (i.e. Guest Cards, Reservation Printouts from Worldwide Reservation Network, etc.)

    7. Daily Operations Reports or Journals

    8. Sales Report

    9. Revenue Report

    10. Management Daily Report

    11. Guest History Report

    12. Shift Report

    13. Employee Acknowledgment Forms

  2. It is further ORDERED that Plaintiff, United States of America may inspect and copy the records described in this Section IX upon providing reasonable notice of not less than three (3) days to Defendants. The United States of America shall make a good faith effort to minimize any inconvenience to Defendants during the inspection and copying of such records.

  1. COMPLIANCE TESTING

  1. It is further ORDERED that the United States may request a local testing agency to conduct, unannounced, compliance tests at Econo-Lodge Motel twice a year during the duration of this Consent Order. A paired compliance test is defined as using black and white testers to determine the availability of motel rooms and possible discrimination. The cost of each paired compliance test shall not exceed three hundred dollars ($300.00). Payment for each test shall be made by the Defendants within thirty (30) days of the receipt of an invoice from the local testing agency for performing the tests. The expense of the testing, as limited hereunder, shall be borne by the Defendants.

  2. Nothing in this Consent Order shall prevent the United States from conducting additional compliance tests of the Econo-Lodge Motel, at their own expense.

  1. MARKETING AND ADVERTISING

  1. It is further ORDERED that during the term of this Consent Order, Defendants shall place at least one (1) advertisement each year in a newspaper publication, which reaches a substantial African-American audience.

  2. This requirements may be satisfied if Defendants place newspaper advertisements in the South Dade News Leader.

  1. COMPLAINTS

  1. It is further ORDERED that Defendants, during the term of this Consent Order, shall notify Plaintiff the United States of America in writing within fifteen (15) days of receipt of any complaint which comes to the attention of Defendants regarding any alleged discrimination on the basis of race with respect to hotel accommodations and services at the Econo-Lodge. Such report shall include the complainant's name, address, and telephone number, and full details of the complaint and any action taken or proposed to be taken by Defendants in response. If the complaint is written, the Defendants shall provide a copy of the complaint with the written notice.

  2. It is further ORDERED that the Plaintiff, United States of America, shall notify Defendants of any alleged violation of this Consent Order or any alleged discrimination by Defendants that comes to its knowledge, within fifteen (15) days of learning of the alleged violation or discrimination. Such notification shall include all details of the alleged violation or discrimination and any proposed remedy which the United States of America believes Defendants should make.

  3. After notification of any complaint of discrimination or alleged violation of this Consent Order, and before any alleged complaint of discrimination or violation is brought before the Court, the parties shall attempt to resolve the problem among themselves by good faith, face-to-face negotiations.

  4. If the parties are unable, after good faith, face-to-face negotiations, to resolve any complaints of discrimination or allegations of violations of this Consent Order, the United States of America may thereafter petition the Court for enforcement of this Consent Order and may present all relevant evidence to prove that the Defendants are not complying with the terms of this Consent Order.

  1. NOTICE OF TRANSFER OF INTEREST

  1. It is further ORDERED that Defendants Ghanashyambhai M. Patel and Joyitshana G. Patel shall notify the United States of America if they sell or otherwise dispose of their interest in the Econo-Lodge Motel. Such notification shall be made in writing within thirty (30) days after the sale or transfer of interest and shall include the identity of the purchaser(s) or person(s) to whom the interest has been transferred, except that the Defendants shall provide thirty days prior notice of such sale or transfer to a person related to them by blood or marriage. After closing, Defendants shall not be bound by the provisions of Sections VI - XI if Defendants' only interest in the Econo-Lodge Motel is that of a mortgagee or lienholder and the property is owned by a person or entity that is not related to the Defendants by blood or marriage. If, however, the purchaser or transferee is related to the defendants, or the defendants reacquires the Econo-Lodge within the three (3) year period of the Consent Order, then the defendants shall be bound by the provisions of Sections VI-XI for the unexpired portion of the three (3) year period.

  2. It is further ORDERED that the Defendants will notify the United States of America in writing if they assume any managerial or supervisory responsibilities at any transient lodging establishment. Such notification shall be made within ten (10) days after the beginning of the assumption of new responsibilities or new employment.

  3. All attachments hereto are deemed a part of this Consent Order.

  4. This Cases is deemed closed; however, the Court retains jurisdiction to enforce this Consent Order in accordance with its terms.

DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers in Miami, Florida, this _[19th]_ day of __[Oct.]___, 2000.

____________/sig/________________________
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

cc: AUSA Veronica Harrell-James
Charles H. Groves, Esq.

The undersigned apply for and consent to the entry of this Order:

For the United States of America

Janet Reno
Attorney General

Bill Lann Lee
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

Joan A. Magagna
Chief, Housing & Civil Enforcement
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20036-5998

GUY A. LEWIS
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

By: ___/sig/_________________________
Veronica Harrell-James
Assistant United States Attorney
99 N.E. 4th Street, 6th Floor
Miami, Florida 33132-2111
Fla. Bar No. 644791
Tel. No.: (305) 961-9327
Fax No.: (305) 530-7976

For the Defendants

Charles H. Groves, Esq.
12550 Biscayne Blvd.
Suite 303
North Miami, Florida 33181
Tel. No.: (305) 892-2990
Fax No.: (305) 892-2780
Fla. Bar No. _602371________

________/sig/___________________
Ghanashyambhai M. Patel, Defendant

________/sig/___________________
Joyitshana G. Patel, Defendant


Document Signed: October 19, 2000.

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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