IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
- This action is brought by the United States to enforce provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. 3601, et seq.
- This court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. 1331, 28 U.S.C. 1345, and 42 U.S.C. 3614(a) and (b)(2).
- Defendant Lyle Krueger is a resident of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, residing at 20030 82nd Street, Bristol, Wisconsin, 53140. At all relevant times, defendant has been the owner and manager of numerous residential rental properties in Bristol and Kenosha, Wisconsin, also in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
- The rental properties at issue in this case are dwellings within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. 3602(b).
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
- Defendant owns and, at all relevant times, managed a rental property located in the Eastern District of Wisconsin at 1870 Sheridan Road, Lot #29, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
- Complainant Teresa Szopinski lived in the rental property described in ¶5 between April 1994 and around February 1996.
- In November 1996, Ms. Szopinski filed a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleging that defendant violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601, et seq., by harassing her and attempting to evict her on the basis of sex and race and threatening to retaliate against her for exercising her rights under the Fair Housing Act (Attachment A).
- On August 20, 1997, after the administrative complaint was filed but before a charge was issued, defendant and Ms. Szopinski signed a Conciliation Agreement. HUD approved the Conciliation Agreement on August 27, 1997, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3610(b) (Attachment B).
- The Conciliation Agreement provides that defendant will refrain from violating the Fair Housing Act, and will pay Ms. Szopinski $200 by August 27, 1997, and will pay her $2,000 by September 30, 1997.
- Subject to defendant's performance of his obligations under the Conciliation Agreement, Ms. Szopinski agreed to waive, release, and covenant not to sue defendant with respect to any matters which were or might have been alleged as charges filed with HUD. The Conciliation Agreement provides that the Secretary of HUD will determine whether defendant has complied with the terms of the Agreement.
- Defendant's performance under the Conciliation Agreement was a condition precedent to Ms. Szopinski's duty to perform her obligations under the Agreement.
- Defendant paid $200 to Ms. Szopinski on August 27, 1997.
- To date, defendant has failed to tender the $2,000 that was due September 30, 1997.
- After numerous attempts to secure defendant's performance of his obligations under the Conciliation Agreement, the Secretary of HUD determined that defendant has failed to perform those obligations and materially breached the Agreement. On June 9, 1998, the Secretary referred the matter to the United States Department of Justice for enforcement, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3610(c) and 3614(b)(2) (Attachment C).
- Defendant's breach of the Conciliation Agreement and failure to perform a condition precedent was willful and in bad faith.
SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
- For many years defendant has subjected female tenants of the properties that he owns and manages to extensive, continuous, and unwelcome sexual harassment by conditioning their tenancy on the grant of sexual favors and creating a hostile environment for female tenants through, among other actions, sexual advances and propositions, invasions of privacy, and sexual touching.
- By the actions set forth in ¶16 above, defendant has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of sex against persons in the rental of dwellings in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
- Defendant has implemented this pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act, among other ways, by:
- Discriminating against persons in the terms, conditions, or privileges of the rental of a dwelling because of sex, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 3604(b);
- Coercing, intimidating, threatening, and/or interfering with female tenants in the exercise or enjoyment of rights granted and protected by Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 3617.
- The conduct of the defendant described in ¶16 constitutes:
- A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights secured by Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq.; and
- A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
- There are numerous victims of defendant's discriminatory actions and practices, including Sandra Johnson, Teresa Szopinski and Debbie Maze, all former female tenants of properties owned and managed by the defendant. These victims are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. 3602(i). These victims have suffered damages as a result of the defendant's conduct as described in ¶16.
- The defendant's conduct was intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of others.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER:
- For declaratory relief, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3614(d)(1)(B):
- Declaring (1) that the defendant has failed to perform a condition precedent under the Conciliation Agreement and that Ms. Szopinski's obligations under the Conciliation Agreement are discharged; and (2) that the defendant has breached the Conciliation Agreement; and
- Declaring that the discriminatory practices of defendant violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq.;
- For injunctive relief, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3614(d)(1)(A), enjoining the defendant from:
- discriminating against any person in violation of the Fair Housing Act, including (1) discriminating on account of sex or race against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling, and (2) interfering with or threatening to take any action against any person in the exercise or enjoyment of rights granted or protected by the Fair Housing Act; and
- Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary (1) to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of the defendant's past unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct; and (2) to notify residents of his rental properties as well as the public that they will be operated in a manner so as not to discriminate on the basis of sex;
- Awarding such monetary relief as would fully compensate each identifiable victim of defendant's discriminatory housing practices for injuries caused by the defendant's discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3614(d)(1)(B);
- Awarding punitive damages to each identifiable victim of defendant's discriminatory housing practices, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3614(d)(1)(B); and
- Assessing a civil penalty against the defendant to vindicate the public interest, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3614(d)(1)(C)(ii).
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
BILL LANN LEE
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
ROBERT S. BERMAN
MICHELLE M. ARONOWITZ
Attorneys, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
TEL: (202) 305-1077
FAX: (202) 514-1116
THOMAS P. SCHNEIDER
United States Attorney
MEL S. JOHNSON
Assistant United States Attorney
517 East Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202
TEL: (414) 297-1700
FAX: (414) 297-1738 > >