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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

HABERSHAM PROPERTIES, INC.;
HABERSHAM PROPERTIES
d/b/a Crescent Court
Apartments;
PEACHTREE BATTLE INVESTORS, L.L.C.;
SUZANNE MONNER,
     Defendants.

___________________________________


COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.

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

  3. Crescent Court Apartments is a 60-unit apartment complex located at 1021 Scott Boulevard in Decatur, Georgia.

  4. Defendant, Habersham Properties, Inc., is the manager of the Crescent Court Apartment complex, as well as other properties, including approximately 30 apartment communities in DeKalb County, and has its principal place of business in the Northern District of Georgia.

  5. Defendant, Peachtree Battle Investors II, a limited liability company, is the corporate owner of the Crescent Court Apartment complex, with headquarters located in DeKalb County. The company has its principal place of business in the Northern District of Georgia.

  6. Defendant, Suzanne Monner, is the rental manager of Crescent Court Apartments, and resides in the Northern District of Georgia. Defendant, Suzanne Monner, was the rental manager at Crescent Court Apartments during the time of the acts alleged in paragraphs 8-11 of this complaint.

  7. The apartments at the Crescent Court Apartment complex are dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).

  8. The United States Department of Justice conducted an investigation from February, 2001 through August, 2001 to determine Defendants' compliance with the Fair Housing Act. As part of its investigation, the Department of Justice conducted a series of tests to evaluate the Defendants' compliance with the Fair Housing Act. Testers are persons who, without the intention of renting an apartment, seek information about the availability of dwellings to determine whether discriminatory housing practices are occurring at a particular property.

  9. In each test conducted by the Department of Justice, African-American and white testers went to Crescent Court Apartments and inquired about available apartments.

  10. Defendants consistently told white testers about availabilities at Crescent Court, and offered them the opportunity to view the units, while telling the African-American testers that no units were available to view or rent at Crescent Court during the testers' requested time period. Defendants also steered the African-American testers to other properties managed by and/or owned by Defendant Habersham Properties, Inc.

  11. In January, 2001, Lynda Osborne, an African-American woman, inquired about the availability of an apartment at the Crescent Court apartment complex. Defendants falsely told Ms. Osborne that there were no available units to rent at Crescent Court, and that there were none that she could inspect. Defendants misrepresented the availability of housing to Ms. Osborne because of her race and/or color.

  12. The conduct, as described above, indicates that the Defendants are engaged in housing practices that discriminate on the basis of race at the Crescent Court Apartment complex, including:

    1. Representing to African-Americans inquiring about apartments that no dwelling units are available for rent at Crescent Court, while telling white applicants that apartments are available for rent;

    2. Discouraging African-Americans from renting at Crescent Court, while encouraging white persons to rent there;

    3. Refusing to allow African-Americans to view vacant apartments at Crescent Court, while allowing white persons to view those apartments; and

    4. Steering African-Americans, but not white persons, away from Crescent Court apartments to other properties owned and/or managed by Defendants even when there were vacancies at Crescent Court.

  13. The conduct of the Defendants described in the previously numbered paragraphs constitutes a:

    1. Refusal to rent, a refusal to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable or denying dwellings to persons because of their race or color in violation of §3604(a); and

    2. Representation to persons because of their race or color that dwellings are not available for rental when such dwellings are in fact so available in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(d).

  14. The conduct of the Defendants described above constitutes:

    1. a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§3601, et seq.; and

    2. a denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§3601, et seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.

  15. As a result of Defendants' discriminatory conduct, Lynda Osborne has suffered damages, and is an aggrieved person as defined in 42 U.S.C. §3602(i).

  16. There may be other individuals who have been victims of the Defendants' discriminatory housing practices who have suffered damages as a result of the Defendants' conduct described above. Such persons are aggrieved persons, as defined in 42 U.S.C. §3602(i).

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

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

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

  2. Enjoins the Defendants, their officers, employees, and agents, and all other persons in active concert or participation with Defendants, from:
    1. Discriminating against any person on the basis of race or color in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;

    2. Failing or refusing to notify the public that dwellings owned or operated by the Defendants are available to all persons on a nondiscriminatory basis; and

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

  3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate each per-son aggrieved by the Defendants' discriminatory housing practices for injuries caused by the Defendants' pattern or practice of discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d(1(B;

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

  5. Assesses a civil penalty against the Defendants in the 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.


WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR.
United States Attorney
Northen District of Georgia
75 Sprint Street, S.W.
Suite 600
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 581-6000
JOHN D. ASHCROFT
Attorney General

RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division

ISABELLE M. THABAULT
Deputy Chief
CHARLA D. JACKSON
Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
10th & Constitution Ave., N.W.
Northwestern Building
7th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 353-9705


Document Filed: June 5, 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

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