UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
JEAN JOYCE, BRANDON BILLUPS, MICHAEL
BILLUPS and HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES
MADE EQUAL, INC.,
- v -
WNY METRO CROWN REALTY SALES &
APPRAISAL CORPORATION, LISA
BREIDENSTEIN, MARLENE SLADE,
and LILLIAN HOEFFS,
1. Plaintiff, United States of America, initiated this action on July 12, 2001, on behalf of Complainants Jean Joyce, and her sons, Brandon Billups and Michael Billups, and Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. ("HOME"), pursuant to Section 812, as amended 42 U.S.C. §3612(o). The complaint alleges that defendants, WNY Metro Crown Realty Sales & Appraisal Corporation ("Metro Crown"), Lisa Breidenstein ("Breidenstein"), Marlene Slade ("Slade") and Lillian Hoeffs ("Hoeffs") unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiffs-intervenors in the leasing of an apartment in a two unit non-owner occupied dwelling, located at 636 Center Road, West Seneca, New York ("Dwelling"). On August 14, 2001, Jean Joyce, individually and on behalf of her two sons, Brandon Billups and Michael Billups, and HOME filed a motion to intervene, which was granted in an order, dated September 28, 2001. On October 12, 2001, an Intervenors' Complaint was filed.
2. The Dwelling in question is owned by defendant Lisa Breidenstein and was being advertised for rent by the defendant Lisa Breidenstein. The cost of the advertisement was charged to defendant Metro Crown, and was paid by defendant Lisa Breidenstein. Defendant Breidenstein and defendant Slade, at the time of the events of these Complaints, were realtors associated with defendant Metro Crown involved in the sale of residential properties. Defendant Lillian Hoeffs was an employee of J.M. Whittington Agency, a now dissolved appraisal company owned by defendant Marlene Slade.
3. On or about January 10, 2000, Joyce, individually, and on behalf of her sons, Brandon Billups and Michael Billups, and HOME filed complaints with HUD alleging that the defendants had unlawfully discriminated against them on the basis of familial status. HUD conducted an investigation and issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination, charging the defendants with engaging in housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Thereafter, the United States filed this action, and the plaintiffs-intervenors filed their action.
4. The Parties have agreed to the entry of this Consent Order to amicably resolve all claims of the plaintiffs-intervenors and the United States of America against the defendants and to avoid further expenses and the uncertainties of litigation.
II. NON-ADMISSION OF LIABILITY
5. By entering into this Consent Order, the defendants do not admit to any violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. This Consent Order shall not constitute evidence, or an admission, or an adjudication with respect to any allegation of the Complaints or any fact or conclusion of law with respect to any matter alleged in or arising out of the Complaints or any alleged wrongdoing on the part of the defendants.
III. GENERAL INJUNCTION
6. The defendants, their officers, agents, employees, successors and all persons in active concert or participation with them are enjoined, with respect to the rental of any dwellings from:
- Unlawfully refusing to rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or unlawfully refusing to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable or unlawfully denying a dwelling to any person because of familial status;
- Unlawfully discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of familial status;
- Making, printing, or publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicates any unlawful preference, unlawful limitation, or unlawful discrimination based on familial status, or an intention to make any such unlawful preference, unlawful limitation, or unlawful discrimination; and
- Unlawfully coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his or her having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his or her having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted or protected by 42 U.S.C. § 3604.
IV. AFFIRMATIVE RELIEF
7. Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Order, defendants shall inform all current tenants that families with children are permitted to live at any dwelling rented by the defendants as required by law, and that any lease provision to the contrary is void and will not be enforced.
8. For all future leases, defendants will not use any language prohibiting families with children from living at their occupied dwellings as required by law.
9. Defendants shall inform all persons who inquire about renting an apartment at their occupied dwellings that families with children are permitted to live at their dwellings as required by law.
10. Defendants shall promulgate a fair housing policy barring unlawful discrimination, which will include the stipulation that compliance with federal, state and local fair housing laws will be a condition of employment. Further, defendants shall make intentional violations of fair housing laws by employees, grounds for dismissal. Said policy statement shall be given to each current and all future staff personnel who have the responsibility of real estate sales or rentals. Defendants' current employees and all future hires shall sign copies of the written fair housing policy and those copies shall be placed in their personnel file. A copy of the written housing policy signed by current employees shall be provided to HOME within 60 days of the entry of this Order.
11. Defendants shall post and prominently display in the rental office at Metro Crown and in any office where there is rental activity and/or personal contact with applicants for units from the defendants, a poster no smaller than 11 inches by 14 inches indicates that all housing advertised is made available for rent or sale on a equal housing opportunity basis. The poster(s) shall comply with the requirements set out in 24 C.F.R. Part 110.
12. Defendants shall within 30 days of the entry of this Order, include the words "Equal Housing Opportunity" or the fair housing logo in all advertising conducted by defendants in newspapers, telephone directories, radio, television or other media, and on all billboards, signs, pamphlets, brochures and other promotional literature. The words or logo should be prominently placed and easily legible.
V. MANDATORY EDUCATION AND TRAINING
13. Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Order, defendants shall provide a copy of this Order to all their agents and employees involved in the rental or management of apartment units and secure the signed statement from each agent or employee acknowledging that he or she has received and read the Order, and had an opportunity to have questions about the Order answered. This statement shall be substantially in the form of Appendix A annexed hereto.
14. During the term of this Order, within thirty (30) days after the date he or she commences an agency or employment with defendants, each new agent or employee involved in the rental or management of apartment units shall be given a copy of this Order and be required to sign the statement acknowledging that he or she has received and read the Order, and had an opportunity to have questions about the Order answered. This statement shall be substantially in the form of Appendix A annexed hereto.
15. Defendants shall also ensure that they and any other employees and agents who have supervisory authority over the rental or management of apartment units have a copy of, are familiar with, and personally review, the brochure entitled, "Fair Housing Equal Opportunity for All" or "Fair Housing: It's Your Right," published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, available at HUD offices and at http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/FHLaws/FairHousingJan2002.pdf or http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/FHLaws/yourrights.cfm.
16. Within ninety (90) days of the date of entry of this Consent Order, defendants and all employees and agents whose duties, in whole or in part, involved supervisory authority over the rental and management of the apartment units at issue in this case shall undergo training on the sections of the Fair Housing Act pertaining to discrimination on the basis of familial status. The training shall be conducted by HOME or by a qualified third party, unconnected to defendants or their employees, agents or counsel. Defendants shall provide to the United States, within thirty (30) days after the training, the name(s), address(es) and telephone number(s) of the trainer(s); copies of the training outlines and any materials distributed by the trainers; and certifications executed by defendants and covered employees and agents confirming their attendance, in a form substantially equivalent to Appendix B annexed hereto.
VI. COMPENSATION OF AGGRIEVED PERSONS AND ATTORNEY'S FEES
17. No later than April 30, 2004, the defendants will pay the sum of seven thousand five hundred ($7,500.00) dollars in satisfaction of any and all claims which are the subject of this complaint or arise under any act by defendants as alleged therein, provided that no amount shall be paid pursuant to this paragraph before the plaintiffs-intervenors have executed a written release of all claims, legal or equitable, that they might have against defendants relating to the claims asserted in this lawsuit.
18. The sum of $7500.00 shall be broken down as follows: defendants will pay to plaintiff intervenor, Jean Joyce, the sum of two thousand and five hundred dollars ($2,500.00) and to plaintiff-intervenor HOME, the sum of three thousand and seven hundred and fifty dollars ($3,750.00) in compensatory and emotional distress damages, as aggrieved persons under the Fair Housing Act. In addition, within 30 days after the entry of this Order, the defendants will pay the sum of one thousand and two hundred and fifty dollars ($1,250.00) in attorney's fees to counsel for the plaintiffs-intervenors. Such payments shall settle any and all claims for ancillary costs of the plaintiffs, including attorney's fees. Such payments shall be provided to plaintiff intervenors' counsel as attorney.
19. Defendants shall agree to execute the Confession of Judgment attached hereto as Appendix C at the time of the execution of this Consent Order. Should the defendants fail to make the payments outlined in paragraphs 17 and 18 of this Consent Order by April 30, 2004, plaintiffs will file the attached Confession of Judgment and begin executing on the judgment.
VII. RECORD KEEPING AND REPORTING
20. During the term of this Order, defendants agree to retain all rental records (including inquiry logs) maintained for the period from the date of the entry of this Consent Order to the present. Upon reasonable notice, defendants shall produce or permit representatives of the United States to review any rental records of Metro Crown in the possession or control of the defendants, or their agents, employees, or representatives.
21. During the term of this Order, defendants shall advise counsel for the United States in writing within fifteen (15) days of receipt of any written or oral complaint against the defendants regarding unlawful discrimination on the basis of familial status, or conduct prohibited by 42 U.S.C. § 3617, and a description of the resolution of such complaint. If the complaint is written, the defendants shall provide a copy of it with the notice; if the complaint is oral, they shall include a written summary of it with the notice. The notice shall include the full details of the complaint, including the complainant's name, address, and telephone number. The defendants shall also promptly provide the United
States all information it may request concerning any such complaint and its actual or attempted resolution.
VIII. COURT JURISDICTION, SCOPE AND TERM OF CONSENT ORDER
22. The parties have consented to the entry of this Order. To this end, the Parties stipulate and the Court finds that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o). This Consent Order is effective immediately upon its entry by the Court.
23. This case is dismissed without prejudice, except that the Court shall retain jurisdiction over this action and over defendants for three years from the date of entry of this Order to enforce the terms of this Order. The United States or the plaintiffs-intervenors may move the Court to extend the duration of the Order, if they determine that the defendants have violated one or more terms of the Order or if the interests of justice otherwise require an extension of the terms of the Order.
24. 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 the defendants to perform in a timely manner any act required by this Consent Order or otherwise to act in violation of any provision thereof, the United States or the plaintiffs-intervenors may move this Court on notice to defendants 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.
DATED: Buffalo, New York, May , 2004.
FOR THE UNITED STATES
MICHAEL A. BATTLE
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
Western District of New York
138 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14202
Mary E. Fleming
Assistant U.S. Attorney
Dan D. Kohane, Esq.
Attorney for plaintiff-Intervenors
Hurwitz & Fine
1300 Liberty Bank Building
Buffalo, New York 14202
Executive Director HOME
Burd & McCarthy
Timothy A. McCarthy, Esq.
1620 Statler Towers
Buffalo, New York 14202
The terms of this Consent Order have been agreed to by the parties, as indicated by the signatures of counsel above, as well as by signatures of the plaintiffs-intervenors, Jean Joyce, and HOME, the defendants and the duly authorized representative of the defendants, and the parties request the entry of this Consent Order.
HON. JOHN T. CURTIN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
DATED: May ___, 2004
AT: BUFFALO, NEW YORK
Document Filed: May 5, 2004 > >