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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
SAN JOSE DIVISION


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

LYTTON IV HOUSING CORPORATION,
E.M. SCHAFFRAN AND COMPANY,
CARRASCO & ASSOCIATES, and
TOPFLIGHT SPECS,
     Defendants.

____________________________________

COMPLAINT
DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Mid-Peninsula Citizens for Fair Housing (MCFH), pursuant to subjection 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (Fair Housing Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619.

  2. The Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

  3. Lytton Courtyard ("subject property") is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 202 project for very low income seniors located at 330 Everett Avenue in Palo Alto, California. Subject property is an apartment building containing 51 apartments on three floors. The building contains an elevator. Subject property was designed and constructed for occupancy after March 13, 1991.

  4. Complainant MCFH is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California, with its principal place of business in the City of Palo Alto, County of Santa Clara, State of California. MCFH's specific purposes and goals include: (a) the promotion of equal opportunity in the renting, purchasing, financing and advertising of housing; and (b) the elimination of all forms of illegal housing discrimination. To that end, the activities in which MCFH engages include, but are not limited to:

    1. providing outreach and education to the San Francisco Bay Area Mid-Peninsula community including housing providers and local governments regarding fair housing;

    2. acting as a local and regional advocate of equal housing opportunities;

    3. assisting and aiding individuals through counseling, referrals and other such services to obtain equal access to housing without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, familial status and disability;

    4. conducting tests of housing facilities to determine whether equal opportunity in housing is provided, and otherwise actively monitoring and investigating discriminatory housing practices;

    5. investigating allegations of discrimination; and

    6. taking such steps as it views necessary to assure equal opportunity in housing and to counteract and eliminate discriminatory housing practices.

    MCFH is an aggrieved person, as defined in the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(d) and (i).

  5. Defendant Lytton IV Housing Corporation is a private non-profit 503(c)(3) corporation with its principal place of business in the City of Palo Alto, County of Santa Clara, State of California. Defendant Lytton IV Housing Corporation is the owner of the subject property and is responsible for the design, development and construction of the dwellings at the subject property.

  6. Defendant E.M. Schaffran and Company is a corporation with its principal place in El Cerrito, California. Defendant E.M. Schaffran and Company is responsible for the design, development and construction of the dwellings at the subject property.

  7. Defendant Carrasco and Associates is a professional corporation with its principal place of business in Palo Alto, California. Defendant Carrasco and Associates is an architectural firm responsible for the design of the dwellings at the subject property.

  8. Defendant Topflight Specs is a corporation with its principal place of business in San Francisco, California. Defendant Topflight Specs is responsible for the design, development and construction of the dwellings at the subject property.

  9. On or about July 11, 1995, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") received a housing discrimination complaint from MCFH pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a), alleging that defendants unlawfully discriminated against individuals with disabilities.

  10. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD ("Secretary") conducted an investigation of the complaint, attempted conciliation without success and prepared a final investigative report. Based on the information gathered in this investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that one of the discriminatory housing practices alleged in the complaint occurred. Therefore, on September 8, 2000, the Secretary issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination in this case, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging that the defendants engaged in discriminatory housing practices in violation of Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3604.

  11. On September 20, 2000, complainant elected to have the case resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).

  12. The Secretary, through HUD's Regional Counsel, authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of MCFH pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

  13. The apartments at the subject property are dwellings within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602 (b).

  14. The apartments at the subject property are covered multifamily dwellings within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(7)(k) and are subject to the accessibility requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).

  15. Defendants have violated 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C) by failing to design and construct these dwellings in such a manner that: (a) the public and common use portions of such dwellings are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; (b) all doors are sufficiently wide to allow passage by handicapped persons in wheelchairs; (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; (iii) reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installations of grab bars; and (iv) useable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.

  16. Defendants, through their actions referred to in paragraph 15 above, have:

    1. Discriminated in the rental, 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).

  17. As a result of defendants' conduct, complainant has suffered damages.

  18. Defendants' discriminatory actions were intentional, willful and taken in disregard for the rights of complainant and persons with disabilities.

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

  1. Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of defendants as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619;

  2. Enjoins defendants, their agents, employees, 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 dwelling units and public use and common use areas at the subject property into compliance with 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C); and

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

  3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate complainant for its injuries resulting from the defendants' discriminatory conduct pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1); and

  4. Awards punitive damages to complainant because of the intentional and willful nature of defendants' discriminatory conduct pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1).

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

ROBERT S. MUELLER, III
United States Attorney

Dated:

JOCELYN BURTON
Assistant United States Attorney

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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