UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
ORCHARD HILL BUILDING CO, INC.;
ORCHARD HILL CONSTRUCTION, LLC;
THE LINDEN GROUP, INC.;
and WILLIAM K. OLSON
The United States files this Consent Decree simultaneously with its Complaint against Orchard Hill Building Co., Inc. (OHBC), Orchard Hill Construction, LLC (Orchard Hill), The Linden Group, Inc. (Linden), and William K. Olson Associates, L.L.C. (Olson) (collectively referred to as defendants), alleging violations of Section 804(f)(3)(C) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619 (the Act).
OHBC is the developer of Creekside of Spring Creek (Creekside), a development consisting of, inter alia, condominiums and "ranch style" (single level) townhomes, located at 14008 Norwich Lane, Orland Park, Illinois 60462. OHBC is also the developer of Covington Knolls, a development consisting, inter alia, of ranch style townhomes, located north of 127th Street, Lemont, Illinois. Linden is the architectural firm which designed the condominiums at Creekside. Olson is the architectural firm which designed the townhomes at Creekside and Covington Knolls. Orchard Hill is now performing the home building activities previously performed by OHBC.
The United States' Complaint alleges that the defendants have engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against persons with disabilities by failing to design and construct Creekside and Covington Knolls with the features of accessible and adaptable design set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).
Creekside is a housing development that, when completed, will be comprised of 367 dwelling units - 271 single family dwellings, sixty condominium units, and thirty-six townhomes, some of which are ranch style. The condominium units are located in five, three-story elevator buildings. The townhomes are located in eight separate buildings. Seventy-eight of the 367 units at Creekside (sixty condominium units and eighteen ranch style towmhomes) are "covered" units within the meaning of the Act 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(7)(A).
Covington Knolls is a housing development that, when completed, will be comprised of 424 single family, detached homes and seventy-four townhomes, some of which will be ranch style. The first phase of the town home area at Covington Knolls includes sixteen ranch style townhomes in three and four unit clusters. Fourteen of the sixteen ranch style townhomes in phase one of Covington Knolls are also "covered" units within the meaning of the Act 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(7)(A).
In general, the Act requires that, for buildings with four or more units, all units in elevator buildings and all ground floor units in non-elevator buildings include certain basic accessibility and adaptability design features intended to make housing usable or adaptable by a person who is or who becomes disabled.
The design requirements under the Act include: (a) public use and common use areas that are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities; (b) doors designed to allow passage into and within all premises that are sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons in wheelchairs; (c) an accessible route into and through the dwelling; (d) light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and environmental controls in accessible locations; (e) reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars; and (f) usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.
The United States alleges that as originally designed, twenty-four of the sixty condominium units and ten of the eighteen covered townhomes at Creekside, as well as six of the fourteen covered townhomes in phase one at Covington Knolls did not comply with the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C) and were constructed pursuant to the original designs. None of those units, (a total of forty), as designed and constructed, comply with the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).
For instance, the United States alleges in its Complaint that, as originally designed and constructed: (1) the entrances to the ranch style townhomes and most of the condominium buildings are inaccessible; (2) most of the doors in the individual condominium units and some of the doors in the ranch style townhomes are not sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons in wheelchairs; (3) the thermostats in the ranch style townhomes are inaccessible; (4) no reinforcements are provided in bathroom walls in the condominium units or ranch style townhomes to allow later installation of grab bars; and (5) bathrooms and kitchens in some of the condominium units are not usable such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.
The parties agree that this Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case. Defendants do not admit that they failed to design and construct the condominium units at Creekside and the ranch style townhomes at Creekside and Covington Knolls in compliance with the Act. The parties agree that the controversy should be resolved without further proceedings and without an evidentiary hearing. Therefore, the parties have consented to the entry of this Consent Decree as indicated by the signatures appearing below.
It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED:
- GENERAL INJUNCTION
Defendants, their officers, employees, agents, successors and assigns and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them are permanently enjoined from discriminating on the basis of disability as prohibited by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C), and as set forth in the Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines, 56 Fed. Reg. 9472 (1991) (the Guidelines).
- NON-DISCRIMINATION IN FUTURE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
- Every year for four years from the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendant Orchard Hill shall, for the covered, multi-family dwellings it intends to develop or build, and for which zoning approval and issuance of building permits for construction have been obtained, submit to counsel for the United States the following information: (1) the name of the architect and site engineer, (2) the name and address of the project, (3) a description of the project and the individual units, and (4) a statement by a licensed architect who knows the requirements of § 3604(f)(3)(C) of the Act, which statement (a) describes the architect's knowledge and training in the field of accessible design, and (b) certifies that the architect has reviewed the plans and ascertained that they appear to include design specifications that fully comply with the requirements of the Act to the best of the architect's knowledge and belief.
- Every year for four years from the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendant Linden shall, regarding any covered, multi-family projects which defendant Linden has designed, submit to counsel for the United States the following information: (1) the name of the builder or developer, (2) the name and address of the project, (3) a description of the project and the individual units, and (4) a written certification that it has reviewed the plans and that the plans include design specifications that fully comply with the requirements of the Act and the Guidelines.
- Every year for four years from the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendant Olson shall, regarding any covered, multi-family projects which defendant Olson has designed, submit to counsel for the United States the following information: (1) the name of the builder or developer, (2) the name and address of the project, (3) a description of the project and the individual units, and (4) a written certification that it has reviewed the plans and that the plans include design specifications that fully comply with the requirements of the Act and the Guidelines.
- MODIFICATION OF EXISTING NON-COMPLYING UNITS
- Defendant Orchard Hill shall, no later than 30 days after the date of entry of this Consent Decree and then again two years after, mail by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owners and/or occupants of the twenty-four allegedly non-complying condominium units and the ten allegedly non-complying townhomes at Creekside, as well as to the owners of the six allegedly non-complying townhomes at Covington Knolls, a letter, as applicable, (attached as Appendices A and B), informing the owner that he or she has 45 days to elect to have any of the modifications specified therein made to his or her unit at defendants' expense.
- Defendants shall complete the requested modifications referred to in subparagraph A above no later than 90 days after the owners' 45-day election period has expired.
- Defendants' total expenditures in making all modifications under this section shall not exceed the following:
- As to the condominiums at Creekside, the cap on expenditures shall be THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS ($30,000); and
- As to the townhomes, at Creekside and Covington Knolls, the cap on the expenditures shall be TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS ($20,000).
- DAMAGES TO IDENTIFIED VICTIMS OF DISCRIMINATION
- Defendant Orchard Hill shall, no later than 30 days after the date of entry of this Consent Decree, give the United States identifying information in its possession about 1) the persons who, between July 1, 1996, and December 1, 1996, visited a covered, multi-family unit or model, or inquired about covered, multi-family dwellings at Creekside and Covington Knolls, and 2) the persons who purchased a covered allegedly non-compliant unit.
- The United States may contact these persons by mailing to them a letter (attached as Appendix C). No later than 90 days after defendants have given the identifying information to the United States, the United States shall give defendants a list of the persons the United States has determined, pursuant to subparagraph C below, to be aggrieved persons and indicating the amount of compensation to be paid by defendants to each such person. No later than ten (10) days after having received the list of aggrieved persons, and fully executed releases and declarations, defendants shall deliver to the United States certified or cashier's checks payable to each aggrieved person in the amount indicated. Before forwarding these checks to the aggrieved persons, the United States shall obtain from each aggrieved person a written release of all claims, legal or equitable, that the aggrieved person might have against defendants relating to the claims asserted in this lawsuit, and a declaration under penalty of perjury attesting to the discrimination the aggrieved person has allegedly suffered. No person shall be paid any amount pursuant to this paragraph before he or she has executed the release and declaration and the same have been received by the United States. The United States shall furnish the defendants with the releases and declarations received from the aggrieved persons.
- The United States shall, using the following guidelines, and in its sole and unreviewable discretion, identify aggrieved persons:
- The aggrieved person was, at the time of his or her expressed interest in Creekside or Covington Knolls, able and willing to purchase a covered or allegedly covered unit at Creekside or Covington Knolls and was discouraged from doing so due to the lack of accessibility features required under 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C); or
- The aggrieved person, at his or her own expense, modified his or her dwelling at Creekside or Covington Knolls to add one or more of the accessibility features required under 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C), or otherwise suffered injuries due to the lack of such accessibility features at Creekside or Covington Knolls.
- No aggrieved person shall be entitled to receive more than TWENTY-FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($2,500), and the total compensation for which defendants shall be liable under this section shall not exceed TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS ($20,000).
- CONSTRUCTION OF NEW, COMPLIANT HOUSING
- To avoid future expense and litigation, compromise a disputed claim, and provide additional dwellings that are usable by and adaptable for persons with disabilities where none would have been required under the Act, defendants shall, within the term of this Consent Decree, construct forty dwelling units in compliance with the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C), which units would not be considered "covered multifamily dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(7) (replacement units). Up to 25% of the replacement units may be multi-story dwellings that would not be "covered multifamily dwellings," provided that their ground floors contain at least one bedroom and one full bathroom. In such a case, only the ground floors need comply with 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).
- In the event that defendants are unable to construct compensating units referred to in subparagraph A above within the term of this Consent Decree, defendants shall place EIGHTY THOUSAND DOLLARS ($80,000), proportionately reduced for each compensating unit constructed, into a fund to be administered in accordance with Appendix D.
- EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM
No later than 60 days after the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendant Orchard Hill shall provide to all its management and supervisory personnel involved in the design and construction of multi-family dwellings covered by the Act a copy of this Consent Decree and training on 1) its requirements, 2) the requirements of the Act relating to design and construction, and 3) the trainee's particular responsibilities and obligations under the Decree and the Act. The training shall be conducted by a qualified person or organization of defendant's choice approved by the United States. Any expenses associated with this training shall be borne by defendant. All new management or supervisory personnel involved in the design and construction of multi-family dwellings covered by the Act employed by defendant during the term of this Decree must comply with the above requirements no later than 30 days after the date he or she commences employment. No later than 30 days after the completion of the training, defendant Orchard Hill shall secure and retain a signed statement from each such manager or supervisor attesting that he or she has received, read, and understands this Decree and has completed the training.
- NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC OF DEFENDANTS' NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY
- No later than 10 days after the date of entry of this Consent Decree, defendant Orchard Hill shall post and prominently display in the sales or rental offices of all covered, multi-family housing units owned or operated by it, a sign no smaller than 10 by 14 inches indicating that all dwellings are available for sale or rental on a nondiscriminatory basis. Defendant Orchard Hill shall also post such a sign in the sales or rental office of any other covered, multi-family housing units developed or acquired by it during the effective period of this Consent Decree. A poster that comports with 24 C.F.R. Part 110 will satisfy this requirement.
- For the duration of this Consent Decree, in all advertising in newspapers, and on pamphlets, brochures, and other promotional literature regarding any covered, multi-family dwellings designed or constructed by defendants, defendants shall place in a conspicuous location a statement indicating that the dwelling units meet the accessibility features for persons with disabilities required by the federal Fair Housing Act.
- REPORTING AND DOCUMENT RETENTION REQUIREMENTS
- No later than 60 days after the entry of this Consent Decree, defendant Orchard Hill shall submit to counsel for the United States initial reports containing the following:
- A certification listing the names and addresses of the persons to whom letters have been sent and from whom return receipts have been received pursuant to section III; and
- Signed statements of current management and supervisory personnel involved in the design and construction of multi-family dwellings covered by the Act who have completed the educational program pursuant to section VI.
- Six months after the entry of this Consent Decree, and every one year thereafter for the duration of this Consent Decree, each defendant shall submit to counsel for the United States reports containing information and certifications for new construction pursuant to section II.
- In addition to the information required in subparagraph B above, defendant Orchard Hill shall also submit the following:
- Signed statements of new management and supervisory personnel involved in the design and construction of multi-family dwellings covered by the Act who have completed the educational program during the most recent reporting period pursuant to section VI; and
- For the first report only, a list of the persons who elected to have modifications made to their dwellings pursuant to section III, itemizing for each the modifications elected, the cost of each modification, and including supporting documentation.
- Defendants shall advise counsel for the United States in writing no later than 30 days after receipt of any written administrative or legal complaint against them, or against any of their employees or agents, regarding an alleged violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(c)(3) relating to units designed and constructed after the date of this Consent Decree. Defendants shall also promptly provide the United States all information it may request concerning any such complaints.
- For the term of this Consent Decree, defendants are required to preserve all records related to this Consent Decree for all properties designed, constructed, owned, operated, or acquired by it. Upon reasonable notice, representatives of the United States shall be permitted to inspect and copy any such records related to any developments or residential units under defendants' control covered by the Act bearing on compliance with this Consent Decree at any and all reasonable times, provided, however, that the United States shall endeavor to minimize any inconvenience from such inspections.
- DURATION OF DECREE AND TERMINATION OF LEGAL ACTION
- This Consent Decree shall remain in effect for four years after the date of its entry.
- The United States' Complaint shall be dismissed with prejudice, but the Court shall retain the right, upon petition by the United States or defendants at any time during the duration of this Decree, to reopen the case for the purpose of enforcing the Decree. The parties to this Consent Decree shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with this Decree prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution.
- X. TIME FOR PERFORMANCE
Any time limits for performance imposed by this Consent Decree may be extended by the mutual agreement of the parties.
- COSTS OF LITIGATION
Each party to this litigation will bear its own costs and attorney's fees associated with this litigation.
It is so ORDERED this________ day of ________________ 1999.
United States District Judge
Agreed to by the parties as indicated by the signatures of counsel below:
FOR THE PLAINTIFF UNITED STATES:
BRIAN F. HEFFERNAN
SUNNY E. PIETRAFESA
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
FOR DEFENDANTS ORCHARD HILL BUILDING CO., INC. and ORCHARD HILL CONSTRUCTION, LLC:
KENNETH C. SHEPRO
F. JOHN MCGINNIS
Altheimer & Gray
10 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606-7482
FOR DEFENDANT THE LINDEN GROUP, INC.:
Quinlan and Crisham, Ltd.
30 North LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois 60602
FOR DEFENDANT WILLIAM K. OLSON ASSOCIATES:
Kirsh & Berman, Ltd.
10 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 2424
Chicago, IL 60603
708-848-0700 > >