UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Civil Action No.
BLUEBERRY HILL ASSOCIATES,
L.P.; COSTICH ENGINEERING;
and PASSERO ASSOCIATES, P.C.;
The United States of America alleges:
- This action is brought by the United States to enforce Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (Fair Housing Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619. It is brought on behalf of Gerald Osborn and Susan Plummer, pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), as well as pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o) and 3614(a).
- Venue is proper because the claims alleged herein arose in the Western District of New York.
- Blueberry Hill Apartments ("Blueberry Hill") is a multifamily apartment complex located in Rochester, New York.
- Blueberry Hill consists of 21 two-story buildings. None of the 21 buildings has an elevator.
- Each of the 21 buildings contains 16 units. Blueberry Hill has a total of 336 units, 168 of which are located on the ground floor.
- Blueberry Hill was designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 13, 1991. Each of Blueberry Hill's 336 units is a " dwelling " within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
- Blueberry Hill's 168 ground-floor units are " covered multifamily dwellings " within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(7)(B) and are subject to the design and construction requirements set forth at 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).
- Defendant Blueberry Hill Associates, L.P., the owner of Blueberry Hill at the time of its design and construction, has its principal place of business in Rochester, New York.
- Defendant Costich Engineering, a licensed engineering firm that performed site plan services for the Blueberry Hill project, has its principal place of business in Rochester, New York.
- Defendant Passero Associates, P.C., a licensed architectural firm that was responsible for the design of Blueberry Hill, has its principal place of business in Rochester, New York.
- Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-11, above.
- Gerald Osborn is an individual with a disability who currently lives in Wrentham, Massachusetts. He resides with his daughter, Susan Plummer.
- Gerald Osborn and Susan Plummer (" the Osborns ") were residents of Blueberry Hill from on or about June 6, 1998 to on or about September 1, 1998.
- On or about September 1, 1999, the Osborns filed a timely complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (" HUD ") pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a), alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of handicap. In their complaint, the Osborns alleged that Blueberry Hill was neither designed nor constructed in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
- Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § § 3610(a), (b) & (f), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint filed by the Osborns, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on information gathered during 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 4, 2002, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging the defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
- On or about September 23, 2002, defendant Passero Associates, P.C. elected to have the Charge of Discrimination resolved in a civil action filed in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
- On or about September 24, 2002, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceeding on the complaint filed by the Osborns.
- Following this Notice of Election, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
- The defendants have failed to design and construct Blueberry Hill so that:
- the public use and common use portions are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;
- all doors within the 168 ground-floor units are sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs; and
- the 168 ground-floor units contain the following features of adaptive design: (i) an accessible route into and through the dwelling; (ii) electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls in accessible locations; (iii) reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars; and iv) usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual using a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.
- The defendants, through the actions referred to in the preceding paragraph, have:
- 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);
- Discriminated against persons in the terms, conditions or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with a dwelling, because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2); and
- Failed to design and construct dwellings in compliance with the accessibility and adaptability features mandated by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).
- The Osborns 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 the defendants were intentional, willful and taken in disregard for the rights of the Osborns and others.
- Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-11, and 13-23, above.
- The conduct of the defendants described in paragraph 20 and 21 constitutes:
- A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619; and
- A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619, which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
- In addition to the Osborns, there may be other victims of the defendants' discriminatory actions and practices who are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). All of these persons may have suffered actual injury and damages as a result of the above actions and practices.
- The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful and taken in disregard for the rights of the Osborns, and the other victims of this discrimination.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the court enter an ORDER that:
- Declares that the defendants' policies and practices, as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act;
- Enjoins the defendants, their officers, employees, agents, successors and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:
- Failing or refusing to bring the 168 ground-floor units and public use and common use areas at Blueberry Hill into compliance with 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C);
- Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of the defendants' unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct; and
- Designing or constructing covered multifamily dwellings in the future that do not contain the accessibility and adaptability features required by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C);
- Awards such damages, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1),and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B), to fully compensate each person aggrieved by the defendants' discriminatory housing practices, including the Osborns, for injuries resulting from the defendants' discriminatory conduct;
- Awards punitive damages, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1),and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B), to each person aggrieved by the defendants' discriminatory housing practices, including the Osborns, because of the intentional and willful nature of the defendants' conduct;
- 5. Assesses a civil penalty against each defendant in an amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), in order to vindicate the public interest.
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
Dated: October __, 2002
| MICHAEL A. BATTLE
United States Attorney
RALPH F. BOYD JR.
ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY
CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION
Document Filed: October 23, 2002 > >