FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2001
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES LINCOLN, NEBRASKA RETIREMENT COMMUNITY FOR DISCRIMINATING AGAINST PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the owners and managers of the Savannah Pines Retirement Community in Lincoln, Nebraska, alleging that they discriminated against persons with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Omaha, alleges that Savannah Pines, LLC, the owner and operator of Savannah Pines, and Hallie Management Company, Inc., the company which manages the development, prohibited residents from operating their motorized wheelchairs and scooters in the development and common areas, including the dining hall. The suit also alleges that Savannah Pines charges higher security deposits to residents who use motorized wheelchairs and scooters and required them to obtain personal liability insurance not required of other residents.
Savannah Pines is a retirement development with individual apartment units and extensive common areas, including common dining facilities where residents receive three meals per day which are paid for as part of their monthly rent.
"We are committed to protecting persons with disabilities from discrimination in housing," said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The Fair Housing Act was enacted to make sure persons with disabilities may choose where they live and not be subjected to arbitrary rules and regulations just because they use a wheelchair or scooter to get around."
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the residents who were subjected to the discrimination, as well as any other individuals who were discouraged from living at Savannah Pines because they use a wheelchair or scooter. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief barring future discrimination.
Also named as defendants are the individual managers of Savannah Pines, Mary Schultz, Debbie Butt, and Jeff Butt, who were involved the management as well as tenant selection at the development.
Any individuals who believe that they were denied housing at Savannah Pines because they use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, or anyone else who has information concerning this case, should contact the office of the Office of the United States Attorney at 402-661-3700 or the Department of Justice at (800) 896-7743.
Persons who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination elsewhere should contact Department of Housing and Urban Development at (800) 669-9777. Additional information is available on HUD's website at www.hud.gov and the Department of Justice website at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing.