Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
GALVESTON DIVISION


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

BRAZORIA MANOR APARTMENTS,
LTD., BRAZORIA MANOR, LTD.,
JOHNSON ENTERPRISES, LTD.
APARTMENTS, JOHNSON
ENTERPRISES, LTD., JOHNSON
ENTERPRISES MANAGEMENT CO.,
a/k/a JEM-CO, JAN R.CLUTE,
individually and in her official
capacity, and JEAN E. JOHNSON,
individually and in her official
capacity,
     Defendants.

__________________________________


COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

JURISDICTION AND VENUE
  1. This is a civil action brought by the United States to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §3601 et seq. (The "Fair Housing Act").
  2. This Court has jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §3612(o).
  3. Venue is proper in this judicial district under 28 U.S.C. §1391(b), in that the events giving rise to this action occurred in this district.
  4. Defendants Brazoria Manor Apartments, Ltd. and Johnson Enterprises, Ltd. Apartments, located in Angleton, Texas, within the Southern District of Texas, are dwellings within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).
PARTIES
  1. Upon information and belief, Defendants Johnson Enterprises, Ltd, and Johnson Enterprises Management Company, a/k/a JEM-CO, do business at 110 East Orange Street, Angleton, Texas, in the Southern District of Texas. Upon information and belief, at all relevant times, Johnson Enterprises, Ltd., and Johnson Enterprises Management Company, have provided management services for Defendants Brazoria Manor Apartments, Ltd., Brazoria Manor, Ltd., and for Johnson Enterprises, Ltd., Apartments, which are limited partnerships organized under Texas law. The Defendants shall be referred to collectively herein as "JEM-CO" or the "JEM-CO Defendants."
  2. Upon information and belief, at all relevant times, Defendant Jan R. Clute has been an owner, agent, partner, president, officer and/or director of the JEM-CO Defendants. Upon information and belief, at all relevant times, Defendant Jean E. Johnson has been an owner, agent and/or general partner of the JEM-CO Defendants.
  3. Upon information and belief, at all relevant times, the JEM-CO Defendants were separate but related entities under the control of Defendants Jean E. Johnson and Jan R. Clute. Defendants Jan R. Clute and Jean E. Johnson are liable personally and in their representative and official capacities for the violations specified in this Complaint. In addition, as general partner, Jean E. Johnson is jointly and severally liable with the JEM-CO Defendants for partnership obligations.
  4. Complainant Betty M. Walters was employed as a property manager at Johnson Enterprises, Ltd., Apartments from March 15, 1996 through December 31, 1998. Ms. Walters was employed as a property manager with Defendant Brazoria Manor Apartments, another property managed and controlled by the JEM-CO Defendants, beginning on or about December 31, 1998 until Defendants terminated her employment on January 28, 1999.
COUNT ONE
(VIOLATION OF SECTION 818 OF THE FAIR HOUSING ACT)
  1. Plaintiff realleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 8 above.
  2. In October, 1998, Francis Griffin, then a tenant residing at Johnson Enterprises, Ltd., Apartments, filed a fair housing complaint (hereinafter the "Griffin complaint") with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (hereinafter "HUD"), against complainant Betty Walters and the Defendants. HUD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (hereinafter "USDA") investigated the Griffin complaint. During the course of this investigation, HUD and USDA officials sought and received Ms. Walters' cooperation in the investigation.
  3. On January 28, 1999, Defendant Jan Clute, acting individually and as agent for JEM-CO, fired Ms. Walters from her position as property manager of Brazoria Manor Apartments in retaliation for her cooperation in the Griffin housing discrimination investigation.
  4. On or about March 30, 1999, Ms. Walters timely filed a complaint with HUD, pursuant to the Act, 42 U.S.C. §3610(a). The complaint alleged, inter alia, that Defendants engaged in discriminatory housing practices by interfering in a previously filed housing discrimination investigation and by terminating Ms. Walters' employment as part of that interference. The complaint alleged that these actions caused Ms. Walters personal and financial injury.
  5. As required by the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD (hereinafter the "Secretary") conducted an investigation of the complaint, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on the information gathered in this investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred.
  6. On September 14, 2000, the Secretary issued a charge of discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3610(g)(2), charging that the Defendants engaged in discriminatory practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3617, specifically, that Defendants violated the Act by firing Ms. Walters from her position of employment for cooperating with the investigation of a violation of a right protected under §804.
  7. On September 21, 2000, Defendants made a timely election to have the claims asserted in the Secretary's charge decided in a federal action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(a). On or about September 21, 2000, the Secretary authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action on behalf of Ms. Walters, pursuant to §812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3612(o).
  8. Defendants, through the actions referenced in paragraphs 1-14 above, have coerced, intimidated, threatened, or interfered with a person on account of her having aided or encouraged another person in the exercise or enjoyment of a right granted or protected by §§803, 804, 805, or 806 of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 3617.
  9. Ms. Walters is an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. §3602(i) and has suffered damages as a result of the Defendants' conduct described above.
  10. The discriminatory actions of the Defendants were intentional, willful and taken in disregard for the rights of Ms. Walters.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that this Court enter an order that:

  1. Declares that Defendants' discriminatory action in terminating Ms. Walters' employment violates the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3601 et seq.;
  2. Enjoins Defendants from further intimidating, threatening, or interfering with Ms. Walters or otherwise violating 42 U.S.C. §3617;
  3. Awards such damages as will fully compensate Ms. Walters for all injury occasioned by Defendants' discriminatory statements, actions, decisions, intimidation, and interference, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o)(3) and 3613(c); and
  4. Awards punitive damages because of the intentional and willful nature of Defendants' actions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3) and 3613(c).
  5. Provides for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.

JANET RENO
Attorney General

BILL LANN LEE
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section

JEANINE M. WORDEN
Deputy Chief
LORI KEITZ WAGNER
Attorney-In-Charge
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
Phone No.: (202) 305-3107
Fax:(202) 514-1116

MERVYN M. MOSBACKER
United States Attorney

Daniel David Hu
Deputy Chief, Civil Division
Texas Bar No. 10131415
S.D. Texas I.D. No. 7959
Assistant U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 61129
Houston, TX 77208
(713) 567-9518
(713) 718-3303 (facsimile) > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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