UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
|UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
1. This action is brought by the United States of America on behalf of Elie, Silvia, Albert, and Elizabeth Bitton, pursuant to section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
2. This court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
3. Elie and Silvia Bitton, and their minor children, Albert Bitton and Elizabeth Bitton, are residents of Illinois and are the owners of a single family house located at 2515 Jarvis Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, in which they reside. The Bittons are Jewish. Elie Bitton is of Israeli origin, and Silvia Bitton is of Mexican origin.
4. Defendant Peter Altmayer is a resident of Illinois and is the owner of a single family house located at 2511 Jarvis Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, in which he resides. Altmayer's house is next door to the Bittons' house.
5. The single family houses in which the Bitton family resides and in which Mr. Altmayer resides are "dwellings" within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
6. On or about April 4, 2002, Elie and Silvia Bitton filed a timely complaint on behalf of themselves and their children alleging harassment and discrimination in housing on the basis of religion and national origin 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). That complaint alleged, inter alia, that Peter Altmayer harassed the members of the Bitton family on a number of occasions during the period from October 1999 through the time of the filing of the HUD complaint.
7. 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 on the information gathered in the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that discriminatory housing practices occurred. Accordingly, on or about September 21, 2004, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination ("the Charge") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging defendant with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3617.
8. On or about October 15, 2004, defendant elected to have the Charge resolved in a civil action in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
9. Following this election, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
10. As alleged in the HUD complaint described in paragraph 6 above, when the Bitton family purchased their home at 2515 West Jarvis in Chicago, Illinois in October 1999, Elie Bitton introduced himself to his new neighbor Peter Altmayer. Bitton asked Altmayer whether he was Jewish, and Altmayer responded that he was not, that his ancestors were German and that he hated Jews, or words to that effect.
11. Since then, Altmayer has harassed and discriminated against one or more members of the Bitton family on many occasions, some examples of which include the following:
a. On or about November 5, 1999, punching Elie Bitton, grabbing Bitton's jacket and telling Bitton that he was going to kill him.
b. In or about April 2000, swearing at Silvia Bitton and saying, "Why don't you go back to South America?" or words to that effect.
c. On or about May 1, 2000, throwing a brick at the front door of the Bittons' house.
d. On or about July 18, 2000, throwing a stick at Silvia Bitton, and yelling at her, "Shut up you fucking bitch. You don't even know how to speak English. Go back to your country," or words to that effect.
e. On or about August 15, 2000, while Elizabeth Bitton, then age 8, was riding her bicycle in front of the Bittons' house, making lewd gestures to her and grabbing his crotch in front of her.
f. On or about September 11, 2000, trying to hit Elie Bitton with a car.
g. On or about April 23, 2001, damaging the Bittons' fence with his car.
h. On or about May 2, 2001, when Albert Bitton, then age 14, was riding his bicycle, pushing Albert Bitton, causing him to lose his balance and fall over.
i. On or about July 13, 2001, engaging in lewd conduct in front of the Bittons and making anti-Semitic remarks to them.
j. On or about June 19, 2002, calling Elie Bitton "asshole," saying "fucking Jew, go back to Jerusalem," or words to that effect, making lewd gestures to the Bittons, and then opening his pants and exposing his genitals to the Bittons.
k. On or about July 25, 2002, making lewd gestures to Elie Bitton and saying to him, "shut-up you fucking Jew. Go back to Israel. You don't belong in this country," or words to that effect.
l. On or about August 23, 2002, throwing garbage from his yard over the fence into the Bittons' yard, hitting Silvia Bitton in the face with a tree branch, causing damage to her eye, and hitting Albert Bitton in the face.
m. On or about August 28, 2002, saying to Elie Bitton, "Go back to Israel, you fucking Jew. I hate your kind," or words to that effect.
n. On or about May 23, 2003, hitting Elie Bitton with an automobile.
12. Defendant Altmayer's conduct described in paragraphs 10 and 11 above constitutes unlawful coercion of, intimidation of, threatening of, or interference with the Bittons in their exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of their having exercised or enjoyed, rights granted or protected by the Fair Housing Act, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617.
13. Elie, Silvia, Albert, and Elizabeth Bitton are aggrieved persons, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of the defendant's conduct described above.
14. The discriminatory actions of defendant Altmayer were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Elie, Silvia, Albert, and Elizabeth Bitton.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that this Court:
1. Declare that the discriminatory housing practices of defendant as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3617;
2. Enjoin the defendant from engaging in any harassment of the Bittons and from discriminating against them; and
3. Award monetary damages to Elie Bitton, Silvia Bitton, Albert Bitton, and Elizabeth Bitton 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.
Dated: March 2, 2005
PATRICK J. FITZGERALD
United States Attorney
By: JOAN C. LASER
Assistant United States Attorney
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Document Filed: March 2, 2005 > >