FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, AUGUST 27, 2002
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES FLORIDA APARTMENT OWNER & MANAGERS
FOR ENGAGING IN RACE AND FAMILIAL STATUS DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a housing discrimination lawsuit against the owners and managers of the Mallards Cove apartment complex in Jupiter, Florida, alleging discrimination against apartment seekers on the basis of race or color and familial status.
The complaint names as defendants corporate entities Meadows of Jupiter, Ltd.; RMF Properties, Inc.; Walter J. Mackey, Jr., the general manager and registered agent of Meadows of Jupiter, Ltd. and an officer of RMF Properties; Ethel Allen, the rental manager; and Teresa Ventimiglia, the assistant manager.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleges that managers of the Mallards Cove used a variety of tactics to discourage black persons from renting an apartment at the 240-unit complex. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the defendants told black prospective applicants that there were no apartments available for rent at Mallards Cove while at the same time telling white applicants that apartments were available.
In addition, the complaint alleges the managers made numerous statements indicating they did not want to rent to families with children and indicated to apartment seekers with children that no apartments were available. The complaint alleges that defendants' actions violated the Fair Housing Act.
"Denying people housing because of the color of their skin or the fact that a household includes children is a violation of the law," said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Using surreptitious tactics including giving false information to applicants because of their race or because they have children denies people their right to seek a home of their choice. We will enforce the law to protect the rights of all Americans to be treated equally in their search for housing."
Today's suit stems from the Department's fair housing testing program coordionation with the Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches, Inc., of Lantana, FL. The Department's testing program trains individuals to pose as prospective tenants inquiring about the availability of rental units.
The lawsuit seeks an order prohibiting the defendants from engaging in unlawful housing discrimination at Mallards Cove apartment complex. The lawsuit also seeks monetary damages for victims of the defendants' unlawful conduct and payment of a civil penalty.
Individuals who believe that they may have been the victim of discrimination at Mallards Cove apartment complex should call the Justice Department's Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at 1-800-896-7743 (ext. 993). For more information about the Civil Rights Division, and the laws it enforces, go to www.usdoj.crt