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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

Civil Action No. 00 C 7603

ROBERT P. FRANSWAY; PETER E.
FRANSWAY; ROBERT'S CONSTRUCTION
COMPANY; JOHN BARRON SHEPHERD;
and THE SHEPHERD PARTNERSHIP,
     Defendants.

_______________________________________

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought to enforce the Fair Housing Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619.

  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).

  3. Springbrook Cercle (SBC) is a residential apartment complex on Springbrook Boulevard located off of West Puetz Road, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. SBC is comprised of a clubhouse and 34 apartment buildings with 176 ground-floor units in Buildings 9-34, some of which are still under construction. Buildings 9-16 and 24-31 at SBC are each comprised of 16 dwelling units, eight of which are located on the ground floor of each building. Buildings 17-19 and 22 at SBC are comprised of 12 dwelling units each, 6 of which are located on the ground floor of each building. Buildings 20, 21, 23 and 32-34 at SBC are comprised of 8 dwelling units each, 4 of which are located on the ground floor of each building. None of the buildings have elevators.

  4. Defendant Robert P. Fransway is co-owner of SBC. His principal place of business is located in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Defendant Robert Fransway is responsible for the design, development, construction and rental of the residential dwellings at SBC.

  5. Defendant Peter E. Fransway is co-owner of SBC. His principal place of business is located in Appleton, Wisconsin, in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Defendant Peter Fransway is responsible for the design, development, construction and rental of the residential dwellings at SBC.

  6. Defendant Robert's Construction Company is a sole-proprietorship owned and operated by defendant Robert Fransway and is located in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Defendant Robert's Construction Company is responsible for the development and construction of the residential dwellings in Buildings 9-34 and the clubhouse at SBC.

  7. Defendant John Barron Shepherd is an architect whose principal place of business is in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Defendant Shepherd is responsible for the design of the residential dwellings in Buildings 14-34, the common and public use areas associated with Buildings 14-34, and the clubhouse at SBC.

  8. Defendant The Shepherd Partnership is a Wisconsin partnership whose principal place of business is in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Defendant The Shepherd Partnership is responsible for the architectural design of the residential dwellings in Buildings 14-34, the common and public use areas associated with Buildings 14-34, and the clubhouse and recreational amenities at SBC.

  9. SBC's apartments are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).

  10. All of the dwelling units in Buildings 9-34 at SBC were designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 13, 1991. All of the 176 ground-floor units in Buildings 9-34 at SBC are "covered multifamily dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(7)(A) and are subject to the accessibility requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).

  11. Defendants Robert Fransway, Peter Fransway and Robert's Construction Company have violated 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C) by failing to design and construct the ground-floor units in Buildings 9-34, the public and common use areas and the clubhouse at SBC in such a manner that: (a) the public use and common use portions of such dwellings, including the clubhouse, are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; (b) all doors designed to allow passage into and within the dwellings are sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons who use wheelchairs; and (c) all premises within such dwellings contain: (i) an accessible route into and through the dwelling; (ii) light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls in accessible locations; and (iii) usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.

  12. Defendants John Barron Shepherd and the Shepherd Partnership have violated 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C) by failing to design and construct the ground-floor units in Buildings 14-34, the common and public use areas associated with Buildings 14-34, and the clubhouse and recreational amenities at SBC in such a manner that: (a) the public use and common use portions of such dwellings, including the clubhouse, are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; (b) all doors designed to allow passage into and within the dwellings are sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons who use wheelchairs; and (c) all premises within such dwellings contain: (i) an accessible route into and through the dwelling; (ii) light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls in accessible locations; and (iii) usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.

  13. Defendants, through the actions referred to in paragraphs 11 and 12, above, have:

    1. Discriminated in the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, dwellings to renters because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1); and

    2. Failed to design and construct dwellings in compliance with the accessibility and adaptability features mandated by 42 U.S.C. § 3604 (f)(3)(C).

  14. The conduct of defendants described above constitutes:

    1. A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a); and

    2. A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619, which denial raises an issue of general public importance, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).

  15. Persons who may have been the victims of defendants' discriminatory housing practices are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i) and may have suffered injuries as a result of defendants' conduct described above.

  16. Defendants' conduct described above was intentional, willful, and taken in reckless disregard for the rights of others.

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

  1. Declares that defendants' policies and practices, as alleged herein, violate the Act;

  2. Enjoins defendants, their officers, employees, agents, successors and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:

    1. Failing or refusing, to the extent possible, to bring the covered multifamily dwellings and public use and common use areas at SBC into compliance with 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C);

    2. Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of defendants' unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct; and

    3. Designing or constructing any covered multifamily dwellings in the future that do not contain the accessibility and adaptability features set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C);

  3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate each person aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory housing practices for their injuries resulting from defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B);

  4. Awards punitive damages to each person aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory housing practices because of the intentional and willful nature of defendants' conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and

  5. Assesses a civil penalty against each defendant in the maximum amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), in order to vindicate the public interest.

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

Janet Reno
Attorney General

Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

Joan A. Magagna
Chief
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

Brian F. Heffernan
Deputy Chief

Kathleen M. Pennington
Trial Attorney
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
202-353-9759

Thomas P. Schneider
United States Attorney
517 E. Wisconsin St.,
Suite 530
Milwaukee, WI
414-297-1700

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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