UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CHATEAU VILLAGE APARTMENTS
L.L.C., BANNER PROPERTY
MANAGEMENT, INC., and ANITA ZUBOR,
The United States, by its attorney, PATRICK J. FITZGERALD, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, for its complaint states:
1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Wendy Walsh and HOPE Fair Housing Center to enforce the 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.
2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o). Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o) as defendants are located in this judicial district and the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in this judicial district.
3. Defendant Chateau Village L.L.C. is the owner of the subject property, Chateau Village Apartments, a multifamily apartment complex consisting of 210 units, located in Carol Stream, Illinois. Chateau Village L.L.C. is located in Northfield, Illinois.
4. Defendant Banner Property Management, Inc. is the management company that at all times relevant to the allegations of this complaint managed Chateau Village Apartments. Banner Property Management, Inc. is located in Northfield, Illinois.
5. Defendant Anita Zubor is the property manager of Chateau Village Apartments and an agent of Banner Property Management, Inc.
6. Defendants are responsible for the general overall management and operation of the multiple dwellings and common areas which constitute Chateau Village Apartments.
7. The units at Chateau Village Apartments are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
8. Wendy Walsh is an individual with cervical and spinal disorders which substantially limit her in the major life activity of walking. She requires the use of crutches to walk, is often in pain, and has difficulty climbing and descending stairs. Wendy Walsh is a person with a disability within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
9. HOPE Fair Housing Center is a non-profit fair housing organization located in Wheaton, Illinois, which, among other activities, assists persons who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination in pursuing their rights. HOPE Fair Housing Center serves Chicago's western suburbs as well as twenty-eight other counties in Northern and North Central Illinois.
10. In or about October 2000, Wendy Walsh applied for a unit at Chateau Village Apartments. In her application, she made clear that she had a mobility disability.
11. Ms. Walsh was offered and accepted a one-bedroom subsidized apartment on the first floor of the Chateau Village Apartments. This unit was difficult for Ms. Walsh to access. If she entered her unit through the rear entrance, she would have to walk the entire length of the building from the parking lot, which took her approximately 180 steps, and then negotiate one step. Because it was difficult for Ms. Walsh to walk that distance, she entered her unit through the front entrance, which was closer to the parking lot, but required her to negotiate sixteen steps to reach her apartment.
12. To access a unit on the second/main floor of the building, Ms. Walsh could enter through the front entrance and have to negotiate only four steps.
13. In addition, the unit Ms. Walsh was living in was too small to accommodate her exercise and therapeutic equipment, which she used to ameliorate the effects of her disability.
14. In or about December 2000, shortly after moving into the Chateau Village Apartments, Wendy Walsh began making numerous oral requests of defendant Zubor to be moved to a one or two-bedroom unit on the main/second floor due to her disability.
15. Ms. Walsh obtained in May 2001 and delivered to defendant Anita Zubor two doctors' notes, one on letterhead stationery and one on a prescription pad, documenting that for medical reasons due to her disability, she required larger quarters and a unit that was accessible. 16. In or about October 2001, Wendy Walsh contacted HOPE Fair Housing Center to assist her in obtaining a transfer to a two-bedroom unit on the second/main floor at Chateau Village.
16. HOPE spent time and resources assisting Ms. Walsh in her effort to obtain a reasonable accommodation and with her complaint to HUD.
17. In or about November 2001, Wendy Walsh sought and received a two-bedroom Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher from the DuPage Housing Authority. DuPage Housing Authority awarded her a two-bedroom voucher as a reasonable accommodation for her disability because she demonstrated a need for space for her therapeutic and exercise equipment.
18. On December 14, 2001, Wendy Walsh sent a letter to defendant Zubor requesting to transfer to a two-bedroom apartment on the main floor of the building due to her disability. She referenced the documentation from her doctors and stated further that she had obtained a voucher for a two-bedroom unit from the DuPage Housing Authority. She asked to be placed on a waiting list for two-bedroom units on the main floor and to be given priority because of her disability.
19. On or about December 17, 2001, defendant Zubor wrote back to Ms. Walsh, through her attorney, refusing to consider Ms. Walsh for a two-bedroom unit on the main/second floor.
20. In or about March 2002, Ms. Walsh moved from the Chateau Village Apartments because of the failure of defendants to provide a reasonable accommodation for her disability.
21. On December 10, 2001, Wendy Walsh filed a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), alleging discrimination on the basis of disability.
22. On December 18, 2001, HOPE Fair Housing Center also filed a complaint with HUD, alleging that Ms. Walsh had been discriminated against on the basis of disability, and that HOPE, a nonprofit fair housing organization, had spent its time and resources investigating and processing Walsh's complaint, which diverted HOPE's resources from its other activities.
23. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based upon the information gathered in the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause existed to believe that illegal discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Therefore, on September 30, 2004, the Secretary issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging that the defendants had engaged in discriminatory practices, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(1)(A), (f)(2)(A) and (f)(3)(B).
24. On October 26, 2004, defendants made a timely election to have the claims asserted in HUD's Charge of Discrimination decided in a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
25. On October 27, 2004, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election and terminated the administrative proceedings on the complaints filed by Ms. Walsh and HOPE Fair Housing Center.
26. 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).
27. Defendants, through the actions referred to above, have:
a. Discriminated in the rental, or otherwise made unavailable or denied a dwelling because of disability in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1)(A);
b. Discriminated in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2)(A); and
c. Refused to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may have been necessary to afford Wendy Walsh, a person with a disability, equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B).
28. Wendy Walsh is an aggrieved person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and has suffered damages as a result of the defendants' discriminatory conduct as described above.
29. HOPE Fair Housing Center is an aggrieved person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and, as a result of the defendants' discriminatory conduct as described above, has suffered damages, including the diversion of resources from its counseling, referral, educational and other programs.
30. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Wendy Walsh and HOPE Fair Housing Center.
WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays for relief as follows:
1. A declaration that the conduct of defendants as set forth above violates the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.
2. An injunction against defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from discriminating on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.
3. Awards of monetary damages to Wendy Walsh and HOPE Fair Housing Center, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1).
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
PATRICK J. FITZGERALD
United States Attorney
Assistant United States Attorney
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Document Filed: April 19, 2005 > >