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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
WESTERN DIVISION


United States of America,
     Plaintiff,

v.

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,
     Defendants.

___________________________________


CONSENT DECREE

  1. The United States filed this action against the above-named Defendants on behalf of Nathaniel and Diane Black, an interracial couple, and Francesca, their minor child, pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o). Defendants James "Jim" W. Webb ("Jim Webb") and Dianna S. "Sue" Webb ("Sue Webb") are the former managers of the Lakewood House Apartments, which is a 107 unit apartment complex located at 4801 North Hills Boulevard, in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Defendant General Properties, Inc. manages the Lakewood House Apartments. Defendant James P. Matthews is a partner in Lakewood House, L.L.P., and is president and shareholder in General Properties, Inc. Defendant The Crestwood Company was an owner of the Lakewood House at the time of the discriminatory acts alleged in the Complaint. Defendant The Crestwood Company transferred title of the complex to Defendant The Woodcrest Company, L.L.P. on August 31, 1998. Defendant The Woodcrest Company, L.L.P. transferred title of the complex to Lakewood House, L.L.P. on July 30, 1999. Defendant Lakewood House, L.L.P. currently owns the complex. In its Complaint, the United States alleges that Defendants discriminated against Mr. and Ms. Black and their daughter by refusing to rent, or otherwise make available to them, an apartment unit at the Lakewood House on account of race, in violation of Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604.

  2. The parties desire to avoid costly and protracted litigation and agree that this action should be resolved by settlement, without a trial or other evidentiary hearing. Accordingly, the parties agree to the entry of this Consent Order, as indicated by the signatures appearing below.

PURPOSES OF THIS ORDER

  1. The parties have agreed to the entry of this Order for the following purposes:

    1. To ensure, by the specific means set forth herein, that Defendants do not refuse to rent, or otherwise make available, apartment units at the Lakewood House, or at any other residential dwelling, on the basis of race or color; and

    2. To provide compensatory relief to Mr. and Ms. Black and their daughter for the injuries they allege to have suffered as a result of Defendants' conduct.

GENERAL NONDISCRIMINATION PROVISIONS

  1. Defendants, their employees, successors, agents, assigns, anyone acting under their direction, and all those acting in concert or participation with any of them, are hereby enjoined from:

    1. Refusing to rent or refusing to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable dwellings to persons because of the race or color of such persons;

    2. Imposing different terms and conditions in the rental of dwellings on the basis of race or color;

    3. Making statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference or limitation on the basis of race or color;

    4. Engaging in any conduct which has the intent or effect of deterring, discouraging, and/or interfering on the basis of race or color with any person who is inquiring about or applying for residency in any dwelling owned, operated, managed, or staffed by Defendants; and

    5. Taking any other action in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended 42 U.S.C. §3601-3619.

COMPENSATORY RELIEF

  1. On or before September 15, 2001, Defendants shall make a monetary disbursement in the amount of twenty-seven thousand five hundred dollars ($27,500.00) to Mr. and Ms. Black, in full and final settlement of any and all claims made or that could be made by them or their minor daughter against Defendants in connection with the transactions or occurrences referenced in the Complaint, including any and all claims for damages and for attorneys' fees and costs. Said payment shall be in the form of a cashier's check made payable to Diane and Nathaniel Black. In consideration of Defendants' payment of twenty-seven thousand five hundred dollars ($27,500.00) to Mr. and Ms. Black, Mr. and Ms. Black shall execute and deliver to Defendants a release in the form of Exhibit 1 attached hereto. (1)

AFFIRMATIVE RELIEF

  1. Defendants, their employees, successors, agents, assigns, anyone acting under their direction and, all those acting in concert or participation with any of them shall take the following affirmative measures in order to ensure compliance with all state and federal fair housing laws and to ensure that, in the future, all residential rental properties owned, operated, managed, or staffed by them will be made available for rental on an equal basis and under the same terms and conditions to all persons:

    1. Within thirty (30) days from the date of entry of this Order, Defendants James P. Matthews, Jim Webb, and Sue Webb and each employee or agent of the Defendants who is involved in the rental of dwellings owned, operated, managed, or staffed by Defendants, shall execute a statement, in the form of Exhibit 2 attached hereto, verifying that he or she has read this Order; and that he or she understands his or her legal responsibilities under it and the Fair Housing Act, as amended.

    2. If Defendants employ or otherwise contract with any other person to assist in the rental of any dwelling owned, operated, managed, or staffed by Defendants during the term of this Order, Defendants shall, within ten (10) days of entering into such a relationship:

      1. instruct any such person in writing that all rentals shall be in accordance with the Fair Housing Act, as amended, and that all dwellings must be rented to any qualified prospective purchaser without regard to his or her race or color;

      2. furnish to each such employee or agent a copy of this Order; and

      3. require all employees to sign the statement contained in Exhibit 2 so as to indicate that he or she has read this Order and that he or she understands his or her legal responsibilities under it and the Fair Housing Act, as amended.

    3. As of the date of this Order, Defendants shall adopt at Lakewood House and implement objective, uniform, and non-discriminatory procedures and criteria for the receipt and handling of rental inquiries, the processing of applications, the establishment of waiting lists (if any), and the approval of applicants for the rental of available dwellings and/or positions on waiting lists (if any). These procedures and criteria shall be posted and prominently displayed in any office or location where Defendants have any personal contact with persons inquiring about or applying for rental units at Lakewood House. A copy of these procedures and criteria shall be made available upon request to any person inquiring about or applying for such rental unit. Defendants shall also submit a copy of these procedures and criteria to the United States upon entry of this Order. If the United States has any objections to the procedures and criteria, it shall notify Defendants, in writing, within twenty (20) days after receiving the procedures and criteria from Defendants. If the United States does not timely object, the procedures and criteria shall be effected. If the United States does timely object, the procedures and criteria shall not be effected until the objection is resolved. The parties shall confer in an effort to resolve any differences.

    4. As of the date of this Order, Defendants shall inform all persons who appear in person at Lakewood House about the procedures and criteria as follows:

      1. provide a copy of the procedures and criteria to all persons who complete a lease application or request a copy of the procedures and criteria in person at the rental office;

      2. advise orally all other persons who appear in person where the procedures and criteria are posted and that a copy may be obtained at the rental office.

    5. Should Defendants choose to advertise, all advertising related to the rental of any dwelling at the Lakewood House or any other dwelling owned, operated, managed, or staffed by any Defendant which is placed in any newspaper or telephone directory, or on radio, television or in other media, or on any sign, pamphlet, brochure, handout, business card, stationery, form or other writing that is routinely used to communicate with prospective tenants, shall include the words "Equal Housing Opportunity". The words shall be prominently placed and legible. In addition, all newspaper and radio advertising by Defendants shall conform to the provisions of the HUD advertising guidelines, which formerly appeared at 24 C.F.R. Part 109 (1989) (2) (a copy of which is attached as Exhibit 3).

    6. Defendants shall post in a prominent location in all rental offices utilized by Defendants a sign no smaller than 11 inches by 14 inches that indicates that all units are available on a nondiscriminatory basis (a poster which comports with the HUD regulations set forth at 24 C.F.R. Part 110 will satisfy this requirement).

    7. All standard rental applications used by Defendants shall contain the following language: "We are an equal opportunity housing provider. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, handicap, or familial status (having children under 18 years of age)."

  2. The costs of all measures required by this Section shall be borne by Defendants separate and apart from any funds they are obligated to expend herein.

RECORD KEEPING

  1. Beginning ten (10) days after the date that this Order is entered by the Court, Defendants shall establish and maintain the following records with regard to Lakewood House:

    1. An Inquiry Log, which shall conform to Exhibit 4 attached hereto and which shall specify the following information with regard to each person who inquires about renting from Defendants a unit at the Lakewood House: full name; current address and telephone number; and any action taken on the inquiry (including whether the inquirer rented a dwelling). Defendants shall maintain the Inquiry Log at the rental office at Lakewood House. Defendants shall request that each such individual provide the information requested and complete any appropriate form;

    2. Representative samples of all advertising and any other printed materials used by Defendants to promote the rental of dwellings at the Lakewood House, including but not limited to newspaper advertisements, fliers and business cards;

    3. A list of all persons whom Defendants have contracted with or employed to assist in the rental of their dwellings at Lakewood House;

    4. All application forms completed by prospective or actual tenants and all other documents relating to the application process, including credit check records, correspondence and receipts;

    5. All Waiting Lists(if any are kept); and

    6. All Apartment Availability Lists.

INSPECTION OF RECORDS

  1. For so long as this Order remains in effect, counsel for the United States shall have the right to inspect and copy any of the records described in the preceding section of this Order during normal business hours and upon reasonable written notice to Defendants. Counsel for the United States shall attempt to minimize any inconvenience and expense to the Defendants during any inspection and copying of such records.

REPORTING

  1. Defendants shall serve the following reports on counsel for the United States: (3)

    1. Defendants represent that they currently own or manage as residential properties the Lakewood House and an apartment complex known as Foothills Apartments Phases 1 and 2. Foothills Apartments are currently subject to periodic reporting requirements to HUD and the IRS.

    2. Once every six (6) months, for so long as this Order is in effect, Defendants shall inform counsel for the United States in writing of any changes to Defendants' residential ownership and management interests described in paragraph 10(a).

    3. Within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order, Defendants shall provide a report indicating:

      1. All actions taken to comply with each provision of this Order;

      2. A list, by unit, indicating the race of the current occupants of each apartment unit at Lakewood House.

    4. Once every six months and for so long as this Order remains in effect, Defendants shall provide to the United States a listing of all units at Lakewood House newly rented during the reporting period, including the name, address, telephone number, and race of each renter. The reports under this provision shall be due no later than ten (10) days after the close of each six (6) month period. The first such report shall be due no later than six (6) months and ten (10) days after the date this Order is entered.

    5. Once every six months and for so long as this Order remains in effect, Defendants shall provide to the United States copies of any and all Inquiry Logs for the Lakewood House that are compiled during the reporting period. The Inquiry Logs shall be due no later than ten (10) days after the close of each six (6) month period. The first such Inquiry Log shall be due no later than six (6) months and ten (10) days after the date this Order is entered.

INSURANCE RECOVERY

  1. If at any time any Defendant recovers any monetary amount from any insurance company or carrier, which provides or provided liability insurance coverage to any one or more of the Defendants at the time of the alleged acts of discrimination, as coverage, indemnity, reimbursement, or payment for any expenses incurred in connection with the present suit, including but not limited to payment for attorneys' fees and costs, such amount, whether paid directly to any of the defendants or to any other person or entity, shall be donated by Defendants to a fair housing organization that serves the Little Rock, Arkansas area.

    1. Within 10 days of Defendants' receipt of such recovery, Defendants shall inform counsel for the United States in writing of the source and the amount of such recovery.

    2. Within 20 days of the United States' receipt of the letter described in Paragraph 10(a), the United States shall decide in its sole discretion the fair housing organization to which the contribution shall be made and shall inform Defendants in writing of this determination.

    3. Within 10 days of Defendants' receipt of the letter from the United States described in Paragraph 10(b), Defendants shall send by certified check the donation to the fair housing organization specified by the United States.

DISMISSAL

  1. This action is dismissed without prejudice. At any time after three (3) years from the date of entry of this Order, Defendants may move for dismissal of this case with prejudice. Dismissal shall be granted unless, no later than thirty (30) days after receipt of Defendants' motion, the United States serves a written objection, which shall be grounded upon a violation or breach by Defendants of some provision of this Order. If an objection is filed, the Court shall hold a hearing on the dismissal motion and the burden shall be on the United States to demonstrate why this Order should not be terminated. If the United States fails to meet its burden, or if no objection is timely filed (except for good cause shown), this Order shall terminate forthwith and this case shall be dismissed with prejudice.

  2. The parties to this Consent Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution. However, in the event of a failure by Defendants, whether willful or otherwise, to act in accordance with this Consent Order, the United States may move this Court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including, but not limited to, an order requiring performance of such act or deeming such act to have been performed and an award of any damages, costs and attorneys' fees which may have been occasioned by Defendants' actions. The Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of this Order. It is so ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED this _[27]_ day of _[Sept]__, 2001.


_____/sig/_______________________
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

Agreed to by the parties as indicated by the signatures below.


For the Defendants: For the Plaintiffs:

RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
Assistant Attorney General

JAMES P. MATTHEWS, on behald
of himself and Defendants
General Properties, INC.,
Lakewood House, L.L.P.,
Thw Woodcrest Company, and
The Crestwood Company

JOAN A. MAGAGNA
JEANINE M. WORDEN
REBECCA B. BOND
Attorneys
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
(202) 514-3870

JAMES "JIM" WEBB

DIANNA S. "Sue" WEBB

PHILIP E. KAPLAN
Kaplan, Brewer, Maxey & Haralson, P.A.
Attorney for Defendants
415 Main Street
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
(716) 852-2464


EXHIBIT 1

R E L E A S E

In consideration of the agreement by 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, (collectively "Defendants") to enter into the Consent Order in United States v. James "Jim" W. Webb, et al, United States District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, Case No. 4-00 CV-00698 JMM, and to pay to us the sum of twenty-seven thousand five hundred dollars ($27,500.00), the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, we, Nathaniel Black and Diane Black, individually and on behalf of our minor child, Francesca Black, hereby release, acquit and discharge the Defendants, their partners, agents and employees, from any and all liability for any claims and damages, including any attorneys' fees and costs, that we or our child may have against them, whether known or unknown, as a result of or based upon any violation, whether alleged or actual, of any state or federal law, including the Fair Housing Act, or any common law theory, occurring prior to the date of entry of said Consent Order.

We fully acknowledge and agree that this Release shall be binding on our heirs, representatives, executors, successors, administrators and assigns. We represent that we have not assigned or otherwise transferred to any person, firm, or other entity not a signatory to this Release any right, claim or cause of action against Defendants.

We hereby acknowledge that we have read and understand this Release and that its consequences have been explained to me by my own attorney and counsel for the United States. We have executed the same voluntarily and with full knowledge of its legal consequences.

___________________________
NATHANIEL BLACK

Date: _____________________________

County of _______________

State of Arkansas

Subscribed and sworn before me this __________ day of ________________, 2001.

______________________
Notary Public

My commission expires: ______________________.

___________________________
DIANE BLACK

Date: _____________________________

County of _______________

State of Arkansas

Subscribed and sworn before me this __________ day of ________________, 2001.

______________________
Notary Public

My commission expires: ______________________.


EXHIBIT 2

STATEMENT OF RECEIPT AND UNDERSTANDING OF CONSENT ORDER AND FAIR HOUSING ACT

I, ______________________________, hereby acknowledge that I have received copies of and read the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19, and the Consent Order entered by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in United States v. James "Jim" W. Webb, et al, United States District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, Case No. 4-00 CV-00698 JMM.

I understand my obligation under these documents not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or familial status in making dwellings available for sale or for rental.

I agree to comply with the Fair Housing Act and the Court's Order. I fully understand my legal obligations under the Fair Housing Act and the Order, and I am aware that my failure or refusal to adhere to them could result in possible sanctions against me.

_______________________

Sworn to and subscribed before me

this ___ day of _______, _____.

_______________________
NOTARY PUBLIC

My commission expires ___________________.


1. Defendants shall forward the check to counsel for the United States:

Rebecca B. Bond
United States Department of Justice
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20004

Upon receipt of the $27,500.00 payment, counsel for the United States shall forward the check to Mr. and Ms. Black and, at the same time, forward to Defendants the release form signed by Mr. and Ms. Black. Counsel for the United States shall forward to counsel for Defendants a letter that all claims raised in this action on behalf of Mr. and Ms. Black and their minor child have been resolved.

2. These guidelines no longer appear in C.F.R. because they were removed therefrom in 1996 in an effort to streamline the regulations. They were nevertheless retained by HUD.

3. 3 Any reports required by this Order shall be addressed to Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, D.C. 20035-5998.


Document Entered: September 27, 2001.

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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