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United States v. Louis A. Rupp, II and Pauline Rupp (E.D. Mo.)


On August 19, 2021, after a three-day jury trial on damages, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the United States in United States v. Rupp (E.D. Mo.), a Fair Housing Act (FHA) election case referred by HUD alleging that the owners of rental properties in St. Louis discriminated against the complainants, a family with children, on the basis of familial status, by terminating their lease after the birth of their second child. Specifically, the jury awarded a total of $74,400 to the complainants -- $14,400 in compensatory damages and $60,000 in punitive damages. Additionally, on January 31, 2022 the Court denied Defendant’s Rule 50 or Rule 59 post-trial motion to set aside or reduce the jury’s punitive damages award, ruling that there was sufficient evidence to support the punitive damages instruction, and that the amount of the award to the children was proper. On May 19, 2023, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s January 31, 2022 order, holding that the district court did not err by submitting punitive damages for the jury’s consideration, and that the jury’s punitive damages award was grossly excessive.  

Previously, on May 28, 2021, the court had granted the United States’ motion for summary judgment on liability and denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Defendant used a lease and application that stated that “no children” were allowed; rented an apartment to the complainants, with one minor child at the time, “on a trial basis” in light of their “no children” lease condition; and later terminated the complainants’ lease after the landlord learned they had had a second child. The court denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, in which they argued that the United States’ case is barred by collateral estoppel and res judicata based on prior state court actions, holding that none of the required elements for collateral estoppel were present. The court granted the United States’ motion in full, finding that Defendant’s conduct violated 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a), (b), and (c). It held that the lease termination notice, which identified the complainants’ two children as lease violations, discriminated “[o]n its face,” and therefore Defendant’s subsequent deposition testimony about his purported non-discriminatory reasons for terminating the lease did not create a genuine dispute.

Case Open Date
Case Name
United States v. Louis A. Rupp, II and Pauline Rupp (E.D. Mo.)
Civil Rights
  • 4:19-cv-02644
  • Fair Housing Act
  • FHA
  • residential
  • four-plex apartment
  • rental property
  • two-bedroom
  • leasing agreement
  • management
  • revocable trust
  • application for lease
  • no pets
  • Children are permitted
  • HUD
  • No children policy
Industry Code(s)
  • None
Updated June 6, 2023