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

HCE Cases black banner

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,                    Case No.

           Plaintiff,

vs.

ENVOY APARTMENTS
ASSOCIATION, INC.,

           Defendant.

______________________________

COMPLAINT

Plaintiff, the United States of America, files this complaint and alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States of America on behalf of Edward W. Dresner ("Complainant"), 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. Complainant, Edward W. Dresner, suffers from physical and mental impairments, and is handicapped within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3602(h)(1).

  4. Envoy Apartments is a 29-unit condominium building, located at 455 Golden Isle Drive, Hallandale, Florida, and is a dwelling within the meaning of Section 802(b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).

  5. Defendant Envoy Apartments Association, Inc. ("the Association") is a Florida corporation with its principal place of business in Broward County, Florida.

  6. The Association is the governing body for Envoy Apartments. All unit owners are members of the Association, which is run by an elected Board of Directors ("the Board").

  7. The Board, on behalf of the Association has authority to approve or disapprove a contract to purchase a unit.

    GENERAL ALLEGATIONS

  8. On or about January 8, 2002, Complainant Dresner offered to purchase Unit 302 in the Envoy Apartments (the subject property), and an application for approval was presented to the Board.

  9. On or about January 21, 2002, Complainant Dresner and his agent, met with Steven Holden, Board President, and other members of the Board for a presale screening.

  10. During the meeting, Mr. Holden inquired about Complainant Dresner's disabilities.

  11. On or about January 24, 2002, the Board contracted with Renters Reference of Florida, Inc. to perform background investigations and screening of applicants.

  12. On or about January 29, 2002, Defendant requested additional information from Complainant Dresner, including character references, an additional bank reference, and information concerning his current residence.

  13. On or about January 31, 2002, Mr. Holden stated that he got water on the application and requested that Complainant Dresner submit a new application.

  14. On or about February 1, 2002, Complainant Dresner submitted a new application through his agent.

  15. On or about February 20, 2002, Complainant Dresner received a "Notice of Non-Qualification" from Defendant stating that Complainant Dresner was unqualified to live in the subject building.

  16. As of September 9, 2002, the unit that the Complainant offered to purchase nine months earlier was still available for sale.

  17. Between April 1999 and August 28, 2002, Defendant approved at least four applicants, none of whom had a disability, for purchase of a unit.

  18. Defendant did not subject any of these applicants to the terms and conditions of sale of a dwelling that it applied to Complainant Dresner.

  19. At all times pertinent to the application process and continuing to the present, Complainant Dresner was qualified and ready, willing and able to purchase the unit under the same terms and conditions applied to applicants without disabilities.

  20. On or about February 22, 2002, Complainant Dresner filed a housing discrimination complaint (HUD Form 903) with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), alleging that the Association discriminated against him on the basis of handicap by rejecting his application to purchase Unit 302.

  21. 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 complaint, but was unsuccessful in the conciliation effort.

  22. The Secretary thereafter prepared a final investigative report based upon 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 had occurred.

  23. Thereafter, on September 26, 2002, the Secretary issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3610(g)(2)(A), charging the Association with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et. seq.

  24. On October 21, 2002, the Association made a timely election to have the claims resolved in federal court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(a).

  25. Subsequently, on October 21, 2002, the Secretary, through the General Counsel of HUD, authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of Complainant Dresner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o)(1).

    COUNT I

    Plaintiff, United States of America, realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 25 above.

  26. Defendant Envoy Apartments Association, Inc. discriminated against Complainant Dresner by denying his application to purchase Unit 302 at the Envoy Apartments and otherwise making the unit unavailable to him for purchase on the basis of Complainant Dresner's handicap, in violation of Section 804(f)(1)(A) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604(f)(1)(A).

  27. As a result of the conduct or actions of the Association, Complainant Dresner suffered damages and he is an aggrieved person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §3602(i).

  28. The discriminatory conduct or actions of the Association were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Complainant Dresner.

    COUNT II

    Plaintiff, United States of America, realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 25 above.

  29. The Defendant Envoy Apartment Association, Inc., through the conduct or acts described above, discriminated against Complainant Dresner in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale of a dwelling, in violation of Section 804(f)(2)(A) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604(f)(2)(A).

  30. As a result of the conduct or actions of the Association, Complainant Dresner has suffered damages and he is an aggrieved person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §3602(i).

  31. The discriminatory conduct or actions of the Association were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Complainant Dresner.

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

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

  2. Enjoins Defendant, Envoy Apartments Association, Inc., its agents, members and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from continuing to discriminate on account of handicap, against any person in any aspect of the rental or purchase of a dwelling, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1);

  3. Awards actual damages, including compensatory and emotional distress damages, to fully compensate Complainant Dresner for his injuries caused by the conduct or actions of Defendant Envoy Apartments Association, Inc., pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and

  4. Awards punitive damages to Complainant Dresner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1).

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

Respectfully submitted,

JOHN ASHCROFT
ATTORNEY GENERAL





MARCOS DANIEL JIMENEZ
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Civil Rights Division

By: __________________________
VERONICA HARRELL-JAMES
Assistant U.S. Attorney
Florida Bar No. 644791
99 N.E. 4th Street, 6th Floor
Miami, Florida 33132
Tel (305) 961-9327
FAX (305) 536-7976
Veronica.Harrell-James@usdoj.gov


JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Donald Tunnage, Attorney
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW-GSt.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Tel.: (202) 305-2789

Document Filed: November 19, 2002.
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