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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NORTH DAKOTA


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

CA No. A1-00-143

KELVIN A. MOLDENHAUER; and
LAUNA L. MOLDENHAUER,
     Defendants

______________________________

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Jeff and Bobbi Zueger, their minor child, Katie Zueger; Deanne and Stewart Schatz, their minor children, Kaeley and Daxton Schatz; and the North Dakota Fair Housing Council, 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. Defendants Kelvin A. and Launa L. Moldenhauer are residents of the District of North Dakota. At all relevant times, Defendants Kelvin and Launa Moldenhauer owned K & L Apartments, located in Bismarck, North Dakota.

  4. At all relevant times, in addition to owning K & L Apartments, Kelvin Moldenhauer reviewed applications for rental and made decisions to accept or reject prospective tenants.

  5. Jeff Zueger, Bobbi Zueger and their minor child Katie Zueger are residents of the State of North Dakota.

  6. Deanne and Stewart Schatz and their minor children, Kaeley and Daxton Schatz, are residents of the State of North Dakota.

  7. The North Dakota Fair Housing Council, Inc. (NDFHC), is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of North Dakota with its principal place of business located in Bismarck, North Dakota. NDFHC's mission is to achieve equal housing for its constituents in North Dakota, including families with children, through education, counseling, referral services and enforcement activities.

  8. The units in K & L Apartments are dwellings within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).

  9. On or about April 1, 1996, Jeff Zueger called K & L Apartments to inquire about vacancies. Mr. Zueger spoke with an employee of K & L Apartments who stated a unit would be available May 1 and another on June 1. The employee referred Mr. Zueger to the resident manager, Pearl Moldenhauer, who is the mother of Defendant Kelvin Moldenhauer.

  10. Mr. Zueger contacted Pearl Moldenhauer. Ms. Moldenhauer asked Mr. Zueger whether he had any children. Mr. Zueger told her that he had a daughter.

  11. The Zuegers viewed a unit and thereafter told Ms. Moldenhauer that they would like to rent the unit that would be available on May 1.

  12. Defendants refused to rent the unit to the Zuegers because they had a child. Defendants, through their agents, indicated they did not want children in the available units.

  13. After denying the unit to the Zuegers, Defendants continued to advertise the unit.

  14. On or about April 8, 1996, the Zuegers contacted NDFHC for legal assistance on this matter. NDFHC thereafter diverted resources to investigate and provide assistance to the Zuegers in pursuing their complaint.

  15. On or about November 16, 1998, Deanne Schatz called K & L Apartments in response to an advertisement in the Bismarck Tribune offering two-bedroom apartments for rent. Ms. Schatz told Defendant Kelvin Moldenhauer that she had young children. Defendants refused to rent a unit to the Schatz family because they had young children.

  16. On or about November 18, 1998, the Schatzes contacted NDFHC for legal assistance on this matter. NDFHC diverted resources to investigate and assist the Schatzes in pursuing their complaint.

CLAIM FOR RELIEF

  1. The United States re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-16 above.

  2. On or about June 5, 1996, Jeff and Bobbi Zueger filed a timely complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleging that Defendants had discriminated against them and their minor child because of familial status.

  3. On or about September 1, 1999, Deanne and Stewart Schatz filed a timely complaint with HUD alleging that Defendants had discriminated against them and their minor children because of familial status.

  4. On or about September 1, 1999, NDFHC filed a timely complaint with HUD alleging that Defendants, in discriminating against families with children, frustrated NDFHC's mission of achieving equal housing through education, counseling, referral services and enforcement activities and diverted NDFHC's resources.

  5. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) & (b), the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development conducted and completed an investigation of the complaints filed by Jeff and Bobbi Zueger, Deanne and Stewart Schatz, and NDFHC, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on information gathered in the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on or about September 15, 2000, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

  6. On or about September 29, 2000, Defendants Kelvin and Launa Moldenhauer elected to have the Charge resolved in a civil action filed in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).

  7. On October 2, 2000, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceeding on the complaints filed by Jeff and Bobbi Zueger, Deanne and Stewart Schatz, and NDFHC.

  8. Following this Notice of Election, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

  9. Defendants, through the actions referred to above, have:

    1. refused to rent, or to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, a dwelling because of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);

    2. made or caused to be made, statements with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination because of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and

    3. represented to individuals, because of familial status, that dwellings were not available for inspection or rental when such dwellings were in fact so available, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(d).

  10. Jeff and Bobbi Zueger and their daughter Katie Zueger are aggrieved persons, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of the Defendants' discriminatory conduct described above.

  11. Deanne and Stewart Schatz and their children Kaeley and Daxton Schatz are aggrieved persons, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of the Defendants' discriminatory conduct described above.

  12. NDFHC is an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and has suffered damages as a result of the Defendants' discriminatory conduct described above.

  13. The discriminatory actions of Defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Jeff, Bobbi and Katie Zueger, Deanne, Stewart, Kaeley and Daxton Schatz, and NDFHC.

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 the Defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from discriminating on the basis of familial status against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;

  3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate Jeff, Bobbi and Katie Zueger, Deanne, Stewart, Kaeley and Daxton Schatz, and the North Dakota Fair Housing Council for injuries caused by Defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and

  4. Awards punitive damages to Jeff, Bobbi and Katie Zueger, Deanne, Stewart, Kaeley and Daxton Schatz, and the North Dakota Fair Housing Council pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613 (c)(1).

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

JANET RENO
Attorney General

By: BILL LANN LEE
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing & Civil Enforcement Section

ISABELLE M. THABAULT
Deputy Chief
ELIZABETH O. TUCCI
Attorney
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
Tel: (202) 514-8036
Fax: (202) 514-1116

JOHN SCHNEIDER
United States Attorney

By: SHON HASTINGS
Assistant United States Attorney
655 First Ave. North
Suite 250
Fargo, ND 58102-4932
Tel: (701) 297-7400
Fax: (701) 297-7405
ND Bar Board ID No. 05084

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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