Consent Decree United States v. Applewood of Cross Plains (W.D. Wis.)

Date: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Document Type: 
Settlement/Consent Decree

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

Plaintiff,

v.

APPLEWOOD of CROSS PLAINS, LLC,

WILLIAM RANGUETIE, and CANDACE

WOOD,

Defendants.

CONSENT DECREE

I. INTRODUCTION

Case No. 16-cv-37

1. The United States filed a Complaint in the United States District Court for the

Western District of Wisconsin to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act

of 1968 (the "Fair Housing Act" or Act), as amended by the Fair Housing Act Amendments

Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619. The United States initiated the action on behalf of

Laura Doty, Brenda Doty, and Sandie Kisting, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(0) and

3614(a).

2. The Complaint alleges that at all relevant times, defendant Applewood of

Cross Plains, LLC (" ACP"), a Wisconsin Limited Liability Corporation, owned Applewood

Apartments, located at 2704 Military Road, Cross Plains, Wisconsin 53528 (the "Subject

Property"), and that defendant William Ranguette ("Ranguette") had an ownership

interest in ACP and was authorized to act on its behalf. Furthermore, between November

2013, and June 2014, defendants ACP and Ranguette employed defendant Candace Wood

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("Wood") (collectively "Defendants") to serve as an agent and the resident manager of the

Subject Property.

3. The Subject Property contained 15 rental units, including 12 two-bedroom

apartments and 3 one-bedroom apartments, and is a ''dwelling" within the meaning of 42

U.S.C. § 3602(b).

4. The United States' Complaint alleges that Laura Doty and Brenda Doty

(collectively the "Dotys") are persons with disabilities within the meaning of the Fair

Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h), as Laura Doty has cerebral palsy and a visual

impairment, and Brenda Doty has Down Syndrome. The Complaint also alleges that

· Sandie Kisting ("Kisting") is a close friend of the Dotys and has served as the

representative payee for the Dotys' Social Security benefits from November 2013, to the

present. Ms. Kisting also frequently serves as an advocate for the Dotys, and assists them

with things such as finding housing, communicating with others on their behalf, shopping,

and running errands.

5. The United States alleges that defendants ACP and Ranguette discriminated

against the Dotys, who were residents of Applewood Apartments, and denied rights to a

group of persons that raises an issue of general public importance: by refusing to renew.

the Dotys' lease because of their disabilities; and by demanding that the Dotys develop a

"plan" to deal with Brenda Doty' s disability-related behavior and pressuring the Dotys to

move. Furthermore, the United States alleges that all Defendants discriminated against

the Dotys by failing to fulfill their duty to take prompt action to correct and end the

disability-related harassment of the Dotys by other tenants.

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6. On or about February 4, 2015, Laura Doty timely filed a complaint with the

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), on behalf of

herself and Brenda Doty, alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. She also filed

amended complaints with HUD on May 12, 2015, and September 9, 2015. Laura Doty is

the court-appointed guardian of her daughter Brenda.

7. Pursuant to 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)(2)(A), determined that

reasonable cause existed to believe that illegal discriminatory housing practices had

occurred because of disability. As a result, on September 30, 2015, the Secretary issued a

Charge of Discrimination, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging that the

defenqants had engaged in discriminatory practices, in violation of the Fair Housing Act,

as amended.

8. On October 22, 2015, defendant ACP elected to have the claims asserted in

HUD's Charge of Discrimination decided in a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).

9. The Defendants deny that they discriminated against the Dotys on the basis

of disability and enter into this Consent Decree for settlement purposes only, and neither

the entry of this Consent Decree nor any action taken under it should be construed as an

admission by the Defendants of any fault or wrongdoing, nor an admission by the United

States that its claims are not well founded. Defendant Candace Wood further represents

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that she is no longer employed or engaged in the business of managing any rental

properties.

10. The parties agree that this Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of

this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331and1345, and 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(0) and 3614(a). The

parties further agree that, to avoid costly and protracted litigation, they have chosen to

resolve this matter through a negotiated settlement. Therefore, as indicated by the

signatures below, the parties agree to the entry of this Consent Decree. This Consent

Decree constitutes full resolution of the claims alleged in the Complaint.

It is hereby ADJUDGED, ORDERED, and DECREED:

II. GENERAL INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

11. The Defendants, their agents, employees, officers, or contract workers whose

duties, in whole or in part, involve the management or rental of dwellings, and all other

persons in active concert or participation with them, are enjoined from violating the Fair

Housing Act on the basis of disability and from:

a. discriminating in the management or rental, or otherwise making

unavailable or denying, a dwelling to any person because of disability, in violation of 42

u.s.c. § 3604(£)(1);

b. discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or

privileges of a management or 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(£)(2);

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c. 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 the Fair Housing Act, in violation of 42

U.S.C. § 3617; and

d. retaliating against any person in violation of section 818 of the Act if

the person asserts his or her right to an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling

without being subject to disability-related harassment, 42 U.S.C. § 3617.

III. SPECIFIC INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

12. Upon entry of this Consent Decree, defendants ACP and Ranguette shall

implement the Nondiscrimination Policy appearing at Appendix A at Applewood

Apartments, and at all properties owned or managed by defendants ACP and Ranguette,

for the duration of the Consent Decree.

13. . Within thirty days from the date of entry of this Consent Decree and

throughout the term of this Consent Decree, defendants ACP and Ranguette shall post

and prominently display at Applewood Apartments, and at all properties owned or

managed by defendants ACP or Ranguette that have a rental office or common areas, a

sign no smaller than 10 inches by 14 inches indicating that all dwellings are available for

sale or rental on a non-discriminatory basis. A poster that comports with 24 C.F .R. Part

110 will satisfy this requirement. This poster shall be plainly visible to all persons,

including those who use wheelchairs.

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14. Within thirty days from the date of entry of this Consent Decree and

throughout the term of this Consent Decree, defendants ACP and Ranguette shall, at all

properties owned or managed by defendants ACP or Ranguette, ensure that any

advertising for dwellings, in newspapers, telephone directories, radio, television, the

internet or other media, and on signs, pamphlets, brochures, and other promotional

literature, include a fair housing logo. The following language shall also be included in

any advertising materials and in any rental application, using letters of equal or greater

size to those of the text or in the body of the document:

We are an equal opportunity housing provider. We do not discriminate on

the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or

disability.

The words should be prominently placed and clearly legible.

IV. TRAINING AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM

15. Within thirty days from the entry date of this Consent Decree, defendants

ACP and Ranguette shall provide a copy of this Consent Decree and the

Nondiscrimination Policy to all of their agents, employees, or contract workers whose

duties, in whole or in part, involve the management or rental of units at Applewood

Apartments, and at all properties owned or managed by defendants ACP or Rangu~tte,

and secure a signed statement from each agent or employee acknowledging that he or she

has received and read the Consent Decree and Nondiscrimination Policy, and has had an

opportunity to have questions about the Consent Decree and policy answered. This

statement shall be substantially in the form of Appendix B.

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16. During the term of this Consent Decree, within thirty days after the date he

or she commences an agency or employment relationship with defendants ACP or

Ranguette, each new agent, employee, or contract worker whose duties, in whole or in

part, involve the management or rental of units at Applewood Apartments, and at all

properties owned or managed by defendants ACP or Ranguette, shall be given a copy of

this Consent Decree and the Nondiscrimination Policy and be required to sign the

statement acknowledging that he or she has received and read the Consent Decree and

Nondiscrimination Policy, and had an opportunity to have questions about the Consent

Decree and policy answered. This statement shall be substantially in the form of

Appendix B.

17. Within ninety days from the entry date of this Consent Decree, the

Defendants and all of their agents, officers, employees, or contract workers whose duties,

in whole or in part, involve the management or rental of units at Applewood Apartments,

and at all properties owned or managed by defendants ACP or Ranguette, shall undergo

training on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act, including the duty to ensure that

individuals with disabilities have the right to an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the

property and are not subjected to disability-related harassment. The training shall be

conducted in-person by a qualified third-party, who is unconnected to defendants ACP or

Ranguette, or any of their employees, agents, or counsel, and approved by the United

States. All expenses associated with this training shall be borne by defendants ACP and

Ranguette. Defendant Candace Wood is exempt from the tra":IDg requirements of this

Paragraph unless she becomes employed or engaged in the business of managing any

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rental properties. Defendants ACP and Ranguette shall provide to the United States,

within thirty 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 each defendant, covered employees, and agents confirming

their attendance. In addition, each individual who receives the training shall execute the

Certification of Completion of Training substantially equivalent to Appendix C.

V. MONETARYPAYMENTS

18. Within forty-five days from the entry date of this Consent Decree,

Defendants shall cause to be delivered to the United States Attorney's Office for the

Western District of Wisconsin a check made payable to Laura Doty in the sum of

$17,500.00, in full and final resolution of Laura Doty' s claim for monetary damages under

42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(0)(3) and 3613(c)(l). Upon receipt of the check, counsel for the United

States on behalf of Laura Doty shall promptly provide the defendants an executed Release

of All Claims (see Appendix D), legal or equitable, that Laura Doty has or might have

against the defendants arising from the allegations raised in this action.

19. Within forty-five days from the entry date of this Consent Decree,

Defendants shall cause to be delivered to the United States Attorney's Office for the

Western District of Wisconsin a check made payable to Brenda Doty in the sum of

$17,500.00, in full and final resolution of Brenda Doty' s claim for monetary damages under

42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(0)(3) and 3613(c)(l). Upon receipt of the check and receiving notification

of court-approval, counsel for the United States, on behalf of Laura Doty as courtappointed

legal guardian for Brenda Doty, shall promptly provide to the defendants an

.8

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executed Release of All Claims (see Appendix E), legal or equitable, that Brenda Doty has

or might have against the defendants arising from the allegations raised in this action.

20. Within forty-five days from the entry date of this Consent Decree,

Defendants shall cause to be delivered to the United States Attorney's Office for the

Western District of Wisconsin a check made payable to Sandie Kisting in the sum of

$5,000.00, in full and final resolution of Sandie Kisting' s claim for monetary damages

under 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(0)(3) and 3613(c)(l). Upon receipt of the check, counsel for the

United States on behalf of Sandie Kisting shall promptly provide the defendants an

executed Release of All Claims (see Appendix F), legal or equitable, that Sandie Kisting has

or might have against tl_i.e defendants arising from the allegations raised in this action.

21. The defendants shall send the payments to the following address:

United States Department of Justice

United States Attorney's Office

222 West Washington Avenue

Suite 700

Madison, WI 53703

VI. REPORTING AND RECORD-KEEPING REQUIREMENTS

22. Within ninety days from the entry date of this Consent Decree, and

thereafter on the anniversary of the entry date of this Consent Decree, defendants ACP

and Ranguette shall submit to the United States a compliance report, except that the final

report shall be submitted sixty days prior to the expiration of this Consent Decree. The

compliance report shall include: (a) the signed statement of each agent, employee, or

contract worker referred to in paragraphs 15 and 16, above; (b) copies of the

Nondiscrimination Policy described in Section III, above; and (c) copies of any

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advertisements, pamphlets, brochures, or other promotional literature of Applewood

Apartments, and all other rental properties owned or managed by defendants ACP or

Ranguette.

23. For the duration of this Consent Decree, defendants ACP and Ranguette

shall notify counsel for the United States, in writing, within fifteen days of receipt of any

oral or written complaint of housing discrimination against the defendants or any of their

agents, employees, or contract workers. Such notification shall include the date of the

complaint, and contact information for the complaining party. Within fifteen days of the

resolution of any such complaint, the defendants shall notify counsel for the United States,

in writing, providing the details of the resolution.

24. For the duration of this Consent Decree, Defendants shall preserve all

records related to this Consent Decree and any other documents related to the

management or rental of units at Applewood Apartments, and at all properties owned or

managed by defendants ACP or Ranguette. Such other documents include, but are not

limited to, applications, leases, complaints, and evidence that each resident has been

presented the Nondiscrimination Policy.

25. Upon reasonable notice to defendants ACP and Ranguette, representatives

of the United States shall be permitted to inspect and copy any of defendant ACP or

Ranguett~'s records or inspect Applewood Apartments at any and all reasonable times so

as to determine compliance with the Consent Decree; provided, however, that the United

States shall endeavor to minimize any inconvenience to defendants ACP and Ranguette

from such inspections.

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VII. DURATION OF CONSENT DECREE AND

TERMINATION OF LEGAL ACTION

26. The Court shall retain jurisdiction for three years after the entry date of this

Consent Decree to enforce the terms of the Consent Decree, at which time the case shall be

dismissed with prejudice. Prior to the expiration of the Consent pecree' s term, the United

States may move the Court to extend the duration of the Consent Decree for good cause,

including on the basis that the Defendants have failed to comply with a provision of the

Consent Decree.

27. The Parties shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences

regarding the interpretation of, and compliance with, this Consent Decree prior to

bringing such matters to the Court for a resolution. However, in the event of a failure by

any of the Defendants or their agents, employees, officers, or contract workers to perform

in a timely manner any act required by this Consent Decree or otherwise to act in violation

of any provision thereof, the United States may move this Court 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, and an award of any damages,

costs, and reasonable attorney's fees that may have occasioned by the violation or failure

to perform.

VIII. TIME FOR PERFORMANCE

28. Any time limits for performance imposed by this Consent Decree may be

extended by the mutual, written agreement of the United States and the Defendants.

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IX. COSTS OF LITIGATION

29.- With the exception of the potential for costs and attorneys' fees pursuant to

Paragraph 27, above, each party to this Consent Decree shall bear its own costs and

attorneys' fees associated with this litigation.

IT IS SO ORDERED:

This _;?o_~ay of _r/_~_V_f/k__~ ___ ,, 2016.

D. ~~--

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The undersigned apply fora11d consent to the entry of this Consent Decree:

Respectfully submitted,

ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED ST ATES

LORETTA E. LYNCIT

Attoniey General of the United States

/.;/Vanita Gupta

VANITA GUPTA

Principal Deputy Assistant Attomey General

Civil Rights Division

/s/ Elizabeth A. Singer

SAMEENA Sl-HNA MAJEEI)

Acting Chief

ELIZABETH A SING.ER

Director, U.S. Attorney's Fair Housing Program

I-lousing & Civil Enforcement Section

Civil Rights Division

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania A venuei NW - NWB

Washington, DC 20530

(202) 514-6164 (telephone)

JOHN W. VAUDREUIL

Uhited States Attorney

Assistant United Sta 'es Attorney

Chief, Civil Division

Assishtnt United States Attorney

222 West Washington Avenue

Suite700

Madison, WI 53703

(608) 264-5158 (telephone)

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Date: l-1~-I/.

·~......,---

FOR DEFENDANTS APPLEWOOD OF

CROSS PLAINS, LLC, WILLIAM

RANGUETT ,,and D E WOOD

Hurley, Burish & Stanton, S.C.

33 East Main Street, Suite 400

Madison, WI 53701-1528

(608) 257-0945 (telephone)

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APPENDIX A

NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY

It is the policy of Applewood of Cross Plains, LLC, and William Ranguette, to

comply with Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (commonly known as the ,.,.Fair

Housing Act") by ensuring that dwellings are available to all persons without regard

to race, color, religion, national origin, disability, familial status, or sex.

This policy means, among other things, that Applewood of Cross Plains, LLC,

and all agents or employees of Applewood of Cross Plains, LLC, and William

Ranguette, with the responsibility of renting or managing any dwelling units must

not discriminate in any aspect of the management or rental of dwellings to qualified

applicants or tenants. Such agents and employees must refrain from, among other

things:

A. Discriminating in the management or rental of, or otherwise making

unavailable or denying to any person because of race, color, religion, sex,

familial status (having children under 18), national origin, or a disability

of the resident or of any person associated with the resident;

B. · Discriminating against a person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of

the management or rental of a dwelling or in the provision of services or

facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of race, color, religion,

sex, familial status (having children under 18), national origin, or a

disability of the resident or of any person associated with the resident;

C. Refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices,

or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a

resident with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a

dwelling; and

D. Coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with any person in the

exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his/her having exercised or

enjoyed, or an account of his/her having aided or encouraged any other

person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by

the Fair Housing Act.

Any owner, agent, or employee who fails to comply with this NonDiscrimination

Policy shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. Any action

taken by an agent or employee that results in unequal service, treatment or behavior

to residents on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status (having children

under 18), national origin, or disability, may constitute a violation of state and federal

fair housing laws. Any resident who believes that any of the above policies have been

violated by any owner, agent or employee may contact the U.S. Department of

Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777, or the United States Attorney's

Office at 608-264-5158.

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APPENDIXB

EMPLOYEE ACKNOWLEDGMENT

I acknowledge that on (date), I was provided

copies of the Consent Decree entered by the Court in United States of America

v. Applewood of Cross Plains, LLC, William Ranguette, and Candace Wood, United

States District Court, Western District of Wisconsin Case Number ___ _,

and the Nondiscrimination Policy. I have read and understand these

documents, and have had my questions, if any, about these documents

answered. I understand my legal responsibilities and shall comply with

those responsibilities.

SIGNATURE

PRINT NAME

JOB TITLE

DATE

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APPENDIXC

CERTIFICATION OF FAIR HOUSING TRAINING

On (date), I attended training on the Federal Fair

Housing Act, including the duty to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the

right to an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the property, and are not subjected to

disability-related harassmel)t. I have had all of my questions, if any, concerning the

Fair Housing Act answered to my satisfaction.

SIGNATURE

PRINT NAME

DATE

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APPENDIXD

RELEASE OF CLAIMS BY LAURA DOTY

In consideration of the Parties' agreement to the terms of the Consent Decree

entered by the Court in United States of America v. Applewood of Cross Plains, LLC, William

Ranguette, and Candace Wood, United States District Court, Western District of Wisconsin

Case Number and the Defendants' payment of the sum of $ I,

Laura Doty, my heirs and assigns, hereby release and fully and forever discharge the

Defendants in this action and their successors, insurers, agents and assigns, from any

and all liability for any existing, pending or potential claims or causes of action, legal or

equitable, I may have against them arising out of the allegations raised in this action.

DATE LAURA DOTY

7510 Rohlich Court, #5

Middleton, WI 53562-2656

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APPENDIXE

RELEASE OF CLAIMS BY BRENDA DOTY

In consideration of the Parties' agreement to the terms of the Consent Decree

entered by the Court in United States of America v. Applewood of Cross Plains, LLC, William

Ranguette, and Candace Wood, United States District Court, Western District of Wisconsin

Case Number and the Defendants' payment of the sum of $ I,

Laura Doty, on behalf of, and as court-appointed legal guardian for Brenda Doty,

Brenda Doty, and her heirs and assigns, hereby release and fully and forever discharge

the Defendants in this action and their successors, insurers, agents and assigns, from

any and all liability for any existing, pending or potential claims or causes of action,

legal or equitable, Brenda Doty may have against them arising out of the allegations

raised in this action.

DATE LA URA DOTY, on behalf of, and as

Court-Appointed Guardian for, Brenda Doty

7510 Rohlich Court, #5

Middleton, WI 53562-2656

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APPENDIXF

RELEASE OF CLAIMS BY SANDIE KISTING

In consideration of the Parties' agreement to the terms of the Consent Decree

entered by the Court in United States of America v. Applewood of Cross Plains, LLC, William

Ranguette, and Candace Wood, United States District Court, Western District of Wisconsin

Case Number and the Defendants' payment of the sum of $ I,

Sandie Kisting, my heirs and assigns, hereby release and fully and forever discharge the

Defendants in this action and their successors, insurers, agents and assigns, from any

and all liability for any existing, pending or potential claims or causes of action, legal or

equitable, I may have against them arising out of the allegations raised in this action.

DATE SANDIE KISTING

7510 Rohlich Court, #7

Middleton, WI 53562-2656

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Updated January 21, 2016