IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
United States of America,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 4-00-CV-00698JMM
James "Jim" W. Webb, Dianna S.
"Sue" Webb, General Properties,
Inc., James P. Matthews,
Lakewood House, L.L.P.,
The Woodcrest Company, L.L.P. and
The Crestwood Company,
The United States of America alleges:
- This action is brought by the United States on behalf of
Nathaniel Black, Diane Black, and Francesca Black, a minor child,
pursuant to Section 812(o) of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action under
28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
- The Lakewood House Apartments is a 107 unit rental
housing complex located at 4801 North Hills Boulevard, North
Little Rock (the "complex") within the Eastern District of
- Defendants James "Jim" W. Webb ("Jim Webb") and Dianna
"Sue" W. Webb ("Sue Webb") are married and are residents of North
Little Rock, Arkansas in the Eastern District of Arkansas. At
all relevant times, they have co-managed the Lakewood House
- Defendant General Properties, Inc. is an Arkansas
corporation doing business in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
At all relevant times, defendant General Properties, Inc. has
managed the Lakewood House Apartments.
- Defendant James P. Matthews is a resident of Roland,
Arkansas in the Eastern District of Arkansas. At all relevant
times, he has been an owner of the Lakewood House Apartments.
- Defendants The Crestwood Company, which is an Arkansas
corporation, The Woodcrest Company, L.L.P., which is registered
in Arkansas, and Lakewood House, L.L.P., which is registered in
Arkansas, all do business in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
The Crestwood Company, which was an owner of the complex at the
time of the discriminatory acts alleged in this complaint,
transferred title of the complex to the The Woodcrest Company,
L.L.P. on August 31, 1998, which subsequently transferred title
of the complex to Lakewood House, L.L.P. on July 30, 1999.
Plaintiff is informed and believes that The Crestwood Company,
The Woodcrest Company, L.L.P., and Lakewood House, L.L.P. are
separate but related entities under the control of defendant
James P. Matthews.
- The apartments located in the Lakewood House Apartments
are dwellings as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
- Nathaniel Black, a black male, and Diane Black, a white
female, are married and together with their minor child,
Francesca ("the Blacks"), resided in the Eastern District of
Arkansas at the time of the discriminatory acts alleged in this
- On or about July 9, 1998, Diane Black telephoned the
Lakewood House Apartments to inquire about the availability of a
three bedroom apartment and spoke with defendant Sue Webb.
Sue Webb confirmed the availability of a three bedroom unit and
told Ms. Black that she could look at a vacant three bedroom
- On or about July 10, 1998, Mr. and Ms. Black visited
the Lakewood House Apartments. During their visit, defendant
Jim Webb told Mr. and Ms. Black that there were no vacancies and
that none would be coming available.
- A test was conducted to determine if the Lakewood House
Apartments was discriminating on the basis of race in the rental
of apartments. Testers are persons who, without the intent to
rent an apartment or buy a house, gather information about
housing for rent or sale in order to help determine whether or
not discriminatory housing practices are occurring.
- On or about July 10, 1998, a white female tester
visited the Lakewood House Apartments, met with defendant Sue
Webb, and inquired about the availability of a three bedroom
apartment. Sue Webb showed the tester a three bedroom unit and
told her that such a unit would be available shortly. She
offered the tester the next available three bedroom unit and
encouraged the tester to leave an application and a deposit with
the security guard at the complex by 11:30 p.m. that evening, if
she wanted to secure the unit.
- On or about August 17, 1998, Mr. and Ms. Black filed a
timely complaint with the United States Department of Housing and
Urban Development ("HUD") alleging that defendants unlawfully
discriminated against them on the basis of race or color in
violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). In the
complaint, which was amended on or about December 1, 1998 and
again on March 23, 2000, the Blacks allege, inter alia, that, on
or about July 10, 1998, defendants engaged in unlawful
discrimination on the basis of race or color by refusing to rent
them an apartment in the Lakewood House Apartments.
- Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a)
and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an
investigation of the Blacks' complaint, 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)(2)(A), determined that
reasonable cause exists to believe that discriminatory housing
practices had occurred. Accordingly, on August 17, 2000, the
Secretary of HUD issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A) (the "Charge"), charging defendants
with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of
the Fair Housing Act.
- On or about August 21, 2000, defendants made an
election to have the Charge resolved in a civil action filed in
federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a).
- Following the election, the Secretary of HUD authorized
the Attorney General to commence a civil action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
- Defendants, through actions referred to in paragraphs
10-15 above, have:
- refused to rent or negotiate for, or otherwise
made unavailable or denied, a dwelling because of
race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a); and
- represented to a person because of race or color
that a dwelling was not available for inspection,
sale, or rental when such dwelling was in fact so
available, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(d).
- The Blacks are aggrieved persons, as defined in
42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of the
defendants' conduct described above.
- The discriminatory actions of defendants were
intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an
- Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of
defendants as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.;
- Enjoins the defendants, their agents, employees, and
successors, and all other persons in active concert or
participation with them from discriminating on the basis of race
or color against any person in any aspect of the rental of a
- Awards such damages as would fully compensate the
Blacks for injuries caused by the defendants' discriminatory
conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1);
- Awards punitive damages to the Blacks pursuant to
42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and
- Awards such additional relief as the interests of
justice may require.
PAULA J. CASEY
United States Attorney
BILL LANN LEE
Assistant Attorney General
Assistant United States Attorney
425 W. Capitol
Little Rock AR 72201
JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
ISABELLE M. THABAULT
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
Tel: (202) 305-1457
Fax: (202) 514-1116