UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
B & S PROPERTIES OF ST. BERNARD,
L.L.C.; FOSCO ENTERPRISES, INC.;
BERKELEY FOSTER; LINDA FOSTER;
LONNIE FOSTER; and SELENA
The United States of America alleges:
1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce 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.
2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614. Venue is proper as the claims alleged herein arose in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
3. Foster Apartments, which are owned and managed by the Defendants, are located throughout Chalmette and St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, in the Eastern District of Louisiana. They include, inter alia, apartments located at 3233, 3301-33, 3401-21 and 3501 Golden; 3605-15 and 3624-26 Jupiter; and 312 Oak Tree.
4. Defendants B & S Properties of St. Bernard, L.L.C., Fosco Enterprises, Inc., Berkeley Foster, Linda Foster, Lonnie Foster and Selena Foster own the real properties, including those specifically identified above, commonly known as Foster Apartments.
5. Defendants Linda Foster, Lonnie Foster and Selena Foster also manage the properties and participate in, among other things, the rental of apartments.
6. All the Defendants do business in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
7. The apartments owned and managed by these Defendants are dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
8. The United States Department of Justice conducted a series of tests to evaluate the Defendants' compliance with the Fair Housing Act. The testing undertaken by the United States revealed that the Defendants are engaged in housing practices that discriminate on the basis of race or color at Foster Apartments, including:
- Denying the availability of apartments to black persons while at the same time telling white persons about available apartments;
- Failing to provide black persons information about the availability of apartments that is as full, complete and consistent with the information provided to white persons;
- Discouraging black persons from renting apartments owned and managed by the Defendants while encouraging white persons to rent such apartments; and/or
- Restricting or attempting to restrict the choices of available apartments.
9. The conduct of the Defendants described in the previous numbered paragraph constitutes:
- A refusal to rent, a refusal to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable or denying dwellings to persons because of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
- Discrimination against persons in the terms, conditions or privileges of rental, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b); and
- A representation to persons because of race or color that dwellings are not available for rental when such dwellings are in fact so available, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(d).
- A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.; and
- A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
11. Upon information and belief, persons who have been the victims of discriminatory housing practices by the Defendants are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered injuries as a result of the Defendants' conduct described above.
12. The Defendants' conduct described above was intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of others.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an order that:
1. Declares that the Defendants' policies and practices, as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act;
2. Enjoins the Defendants, their officers, employees, and agents, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:
- Discriminating against any person on the basis of race or color in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
- Failing or refusing to notify the public that dwellings owned or operated by the Defendants are available to all persons on a nondiscriminatory basis; and
- Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of the Defendants' unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct;
3. Awards monetary damages to each person injured by the Defendants' conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
4. Assesses a civil penalty against the Defendants in the amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), to vindicate the public interest.
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
United States Attorney
SANDRA E. GUTIERREZ
Assistant United States Attorney
Hale Boggs Federal Building
500 Poydras St., Room 210 B
New Orleans, LA 70130
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division _________________________________
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
MICHAEL S. MAURER, Deputy Chief
KATHLEEN M. PENNINGTON, Trial Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
Document Filed: April 15, 2004 > >