Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NORTH DAKOTA
SOUTHEASTERN DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

CA No. A3-99-177

POWERS PROPERTIES;
NCM PROPERTIES, INC.;
TERRACE MANAGEMENT COMPANY;
RICHARD JORDAHL;
WILLIAM BRANDT;
JESSE R. CRAIG; and
VELVA PETERSON,
     Defendants.

______________________________

CONSENT ORDER

This action was commenced by the United States of America, pursuant to section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), on December 15, 1999, to enforce the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. ("the Act"). The complaint alleges that Defendants Powers Properties, NCM Properties Inc., Terrace Management Company, Velva Peterson, Jesse Craig, Richard Jordahl, and William Brandt discriminated, on the basis of familial status, against Keith Stoutenburg, Lisa Stoutenburg, and Keith Stoutenburg's minor son, Oscar Luke Stoutenburg, in the operation of the Billmeyer Apartments, a 28-unit building located at 37 Seventh Street North, Fargo, North Dakota.

Specifically, the Complaint alleges that Defendants violated section 3604(a) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a), by raising the Stoutenburgs' rent, due to the presence of a child in the unit, so as to deny or otherwise make unavailable housing to the Stoutenburgs on the basis of family status. The Complaint also alleges that Defendants raised the Stoutenburgs' rent more than other tenants who did not have children and that Defendants, through their agent Defendant Peterson, harassed complainants after learning that a child was living in the apartment and prohibited complainants from enjoying public portions of the apartment complex with their son, thereby discriminating in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of dwellings because of familial status in violation of section 3604(b) of the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b). The Complaint also alleges that Defendants, through their agent, made, or caused to be made, statements with respect to the rental of dwellings that indicated a preference, limitation or discrimination because of familial status, in violation of section 3604(c) of the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c). Finally the Complaint alleges that within ten days of receiving notice from HUD of the Stoutenburg's fair housing complaint, defendants falsely accused Keith and Lisa Stoutenburg of not paying rent for the month of June 1995, threatened them with collection action if they did not pay the rent within ten days, and eventually caused derogatory remarks to be placed in Keith and Lisa Stoutenburg's credit history, thereby coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with the Stoutenburgs in their exercise or enjoyment, or on account of their having exercised or enjoyed, rights granted or protected by the Act, in violation of Section 818 of the Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3617.

The Defendants deny the allegations in the complaint. Defendant Jordahl further points out that his involvement in this litigation is by virtue of his being an owner of the Billmeyer Apartments and Terrace Management Company during all or a portion of the time in question. However, in order to avoid protracted and costly litigation, the defendants have agreed, along with the United States, to settle this matter.

Therefore, without a trial or adjudication on the merits, and without admission of liability by the defendants, the parties have consented to the entry of this Order, as indicated by the signatures appearing below.

It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED:

Injuntive Relief

Defendants, their agents, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them are permanently enjoined, with respect to the rental of dwellings1 at the Billmeyer Apartments as well as at any other locations where they engage in the sale or rental of dwellings or the management of such sale or rental of dwellings, from:

  1. Refusing to rent a dwelling unit, refusing or failing to provide or offer information about a dwelling unit, or otherwise making unavailable or denying a dwelling unit to any person because of familial status;
  2. Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of rental of a dwelling unit, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of familial status;
  3. Making, printing, publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the rental of a dwelling unit that states any preference, limitation or discrimination because of familial status; and
  4. Coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by 42 U.S.C. § 3603-3606.
Monetary Compensation

Defendants shall pay the total sum of FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS ($15,000.00) to Keith Stoutenburg, Lisa Stoutenburg, and Oscar Luke Stoutenburg, which shall constitute payment of monetary relief under 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c). Such payment shall be made within thirty (30) days after the date of this Order.

Payment shall be made by certified check, which shall be sent to counsel for the United States. Counsel for the United States shall retain possession of the check for each aggrieved person until a release of that aggrieved person's claims against Defendants that were raised in this lawsuit, conforming with that set out at Attachment A, has been signed by or on behalf of that aggrieved person. Counsel for the United States shall forward the original releases to counsel for Defendants. Each party shall otherwise bear its own costs to date in this action.

Mandatory Education and Training

  1. Defendants shall ensure that all persons associated with the management, rental, or administration of the Billmeyer Apartments or any other property owned or managed by any Defendant shall attend educational training concerning their responsibilities under federal, state, and local fair housing laws, regulations, or ordinances. This training session shall be conducted by a Fair Housing organization agreed upon by the parties. All persons attending the training session shall complete a form acknowledging attendance, under penalty of perjury, which Defendants shall retain.

    Defendant Craig may provide certification to the United States of sixteen (16) hours of fair housing training within the last twelve (12) months in satisfaction of this requirement.

  2. Within ten (10) days after the date of entry of this Consent Order, Defendants shall conduct and complete the following described educational program for all their agents and employees with responsibilities for or oversight of the rental of housing at the Billmeyer Apartments or any other rental residential property owned or managed by a defendant, to inform them of the provisions of this Order. Such program shall include:

    1. Furnishing to each such employee or agent a copy of this Consent Order, and informing each person, in person, of the duties of Defendants and their employees and agents pursuant to the Order; and
    2. Securing a signed statement, upon which the parties will agree, from each such employee and agent indicating that he or she has received, read, and understands this Consent Order and Defendants' policy of nondiscrimination and further understands that violation of this Order may result in sanctions against them by Defendants and/or the Court. Defendants shall provide a copy of such signed statement to the United States.

  3. For the duration of this Order, each new agent or employee of Defendants with rental or oversight responsibilities at the Billmeyer or any other rental residential property owned or managed by any defendant shall be given a copy of and required to read this Consent Order, and sign the statement described in Section III.B.1 above, within ten (10) days after the date he or she commences such an employment or agency relationship. Defendants shall provide a copy of such signed statement to the United States.
  4. The requirements of this section shall not apply to Defendants Jordahl, Brandt, Peterson, Powers Properties, Terrace Management Company, or NCM Properties, Inc. as long as they are not involved in the business of providing rental housing. However, should any of these defendants again become involved in the business of providing rental housing at any time during the duration of this Order, they must advise the United States to that effect in writing within fifteen (15) days of their re-involvement and must comply with the requirements of this section within thirty (30) days of their re-involvement into the rental housing business.
Notice of Non-discrimination Policies
  1. Within thirty (30) days after the date of entry of this Order, defendant Craig shall provide all current tenants of the Billmeyer Apartments at 37 Seventh Street North, Fargo, North Dakota with a written notice, conforming with that set out at Attachment B, indicating that defendant Craig follows a policy of nondiscrimination in housing and that his occupancy policy contains no restrictions on the rental of units and the provision of rental services and facilities to families with children. Defendant Craig shall retain a copy of this notice and provide a copy of this notice to the United States.
  2. Within five (5) days after the date of entry of this Consent Order, Defendants shall take the following steps to notify the public of his nondiscriminatory policies:
    1. Post and prominently display in the rental office at the Billmeyer Apartments and any other rental residential property owned or managed by any Defendant, and in any office where there is rental activity and/or personal contact with applicants for units at the Billmeyer Apartments or any other rental residential property owned or managed by any Defendant, a poster no smaller than 10 inches by 13 inches that indicates that all apartments are available for rent on a nondiscriminatory basis;
    2. Include the words "Equal Housing Opportunity" in all advertising conducted by Defendants for any rental residential property owned or managed by any Defendant in newspapers (except classified advertisements of less than 5 lines), telephone directories, radio, television or other media, and on all billboards, signs, pamphlets, brochures and other promotional literature. Those words should be prominently placed and easily legible.
    3. Include the following phrase in the standard lease used for the Billmeyer Apartments as well as any other rental residential property owned or managed by any Defendant:

      We are an equal housing opportunity provider. We do not discriminate because of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, handicap or familial status (having children under age 18).

  3. The requirements of subsection B of this section shall not apply to Defendants Jordahl, Brandt, Peterson, Powers Properties, Terrace Management Company, or NCM Properties, Inc. as long as they are not involved in the business of providing rental housing. However, should any of these defendants again become involved in the business of providing rental housing at any time during the duration of this Order, they must advise the United States to that effect in writing within fifteen (15) days of their re-involvement and must comply with the requirements of this section within thirty (30) days of their re-involvement into the rental housing business.
Record Keeping and Monitoring
  1. With respect to the rental of dwellings at the Billmeyer Apartments, Defendant Craig shall maintain:
    1. Copies of all signed statements secured pursuant to Sections III.A, III.B, and III.C of this Order;
    2. Copies of all advertisements that are of display advertisement size or larger; and
    3. All rental applications and leases for dwellings at the Billmeyer Apartments. Applications shall capture at least the following information: the applicants' names, current address and telephone number, a description of the dwelling desired (e.g., number of bedrooms), family composition, rent and fees to be charged, reason why the application was accepted or denied, and, if accepted, which unit the applicant rented.
  2. During the term of this Order, Defendants shall advise counsel for the United States in writing within fifteen (15) days of receipt of any written administrative or legal complaint alleging housing discrimination against Defendants, or against any of their employees or agents acting in the scope of their employment with the Defendants, in regard to any rental residential property owned or managed by any Defendant. They shall also promptly provide the United States all information it may request concerning any such complaint.
  3. During the term of this Order, Defendant Craig shall advise the United States, in writing within fifteen (15) days, any change in ownership or management of the Billmeyer Apartments at 37 Seventh Street North, Fargo, North Dakota.
  4. Until final dismissal of this action with prejudice, Defendants shall preserve all records which are the source of, contain, or relate to any of the information pertinent to their obligations under this Order.
  5. Periodically, upon reasonable notice and request to counsel for Defendants, Defendants will complete and submit to the United States the form in Attachment C.
  6. Upon reasonable notice to counsel for Defendants, representatives of the United States shall be permitted to inspect and copy all such records of Defendants at any and all reasonable times; provided, however, that the United States shall endeavor to minimize any inconvenience to Defendants from inspection of such records.
  7. The requirements of subsections B, D, E, and F of this section shall not apply to Defendants Jordahl, Brandt, Peterson, Powers Properties, Terrace Management Company, or NCM Properties, Inc. as long as they are not involved in the business of providing rental housing. However, should any of these defendants again become involved in the business of providing rental housing at any time during the duration of this Order, they must advise the United States to that effect in writing within fifteen (15) days of their re-involvement and must comply with the requirements of this section within thirty (30) days of their re-involvement into the rental housing business.
Dismissal
  1. This Order shall remain in effect for two (2) years from the date of its entry. This Court shall retain jurisdiction of this action for purposes of enforcing this Order.
  2. The above captioned complaint is dismissed without prejudice. If no action is taken by the United States within twenty-six (26) months of the date of entry of this Order, then the above captioned actions against defendants Powers Properties, NCM Properties, Inc., Terrace Management Company, Richard Jordahl, William Brandt, Jesse Craig, and Velva Peterson, shall be dismissed with prejudice.
Remedies for Non-Performance

The parties to this Consent Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution. However, in the event of a failure by Defendants, whether willful or otherwise, to perform in a timely manner any act required by this Consent Order or otherwise to act in violation of any provision thereof, the United States may move this Court to impose against the offending defendant 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. The Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of this Order upon a motion to reopen the case for such purpose.

Time for Performance

Any time limits for performance imposed by this Consent Order may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties.

Correspondence

Any information, documentation, or notification required to be sent to counsel for the United States, shall be addressed to:

Chief,
ATTN: DJ 175-56-43
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section,
Civil Rights Division,
United States Department of Justice,
Post Office Box 65998,
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998.

ORDERED this ___[7th]___ day of _[November]__, 2000.

________/s/________________
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

The undersigned apply for and consent to the entry of this Order:

For the United States:

Isabelle M. Thabault
Deputy Chief
Howard Griffin
Ana Henderson
Attorneys
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
(202) 514-4713

JOHN SCHNEIDER
United States Attorney
By:___________________
SHON HASTINGS
Assistant United States Attorney
Quentin N. Burdick United States Courthouse
655 First Avenue North - Suite 250
Fargo, N.D. 58108-4932
(701) 297-7400
ND Bar Board ID No. 05084
Attorney for United States

For Defendant Brandt, Craig, Peterson, and NCM Properties:

Steven Marquart
Cahill & Marquart
PO Bx 1238
Moorehead MN 56561-1238
(218) 236-4900

For Defendants Jordahl, Powers Properties, and Terrace Management Company:

Jeff Bredahl
Bredahl Hill, P.C.
15 Broadway, Ste. 206
First National Bank Building
PO Box 1029
Fargo ND 58107
(701) 298-9363


ATTACHMENT A
RELEASE OF CLAIMS

In consideration for the covenants and agreements made and reflected in the Consent Order entered in United States v. Powers Properties, as well as in consideration of the payments required to be made thereunder, I hereby release all claims, including attorney fees, that I may have against Powers Properties, NCM Properties, Inc., Terrace Management Company, Jesse Craig, Richard Jordahl, Velva Peterson, or William Brandt arising out of, or related to the aforesaid litigation. I further understand that the release of claims shall be binding upon my heirs, successors, including Oscar Luke Stoutenburg, and any and all persons acting in concert with me.

I also acknowledge that I have had the opportunity to review the terms of this Release with an attorney of my choosing, and to the extent that I have not obtained that legal advice, I voluntarily and knowingly waive my right to do so.

____________________________
Keith Stoutenburg

____________________________
Lisa Stoutenburg

STATE OF ARIZONA

SUBSCRIBED and sworn to before me this _____ day of _____________________, 1999.

_______________________________________
Notary Public
My Commission expires:


ATTACHMENT B

This is to inform you that [defendant] follows a policy of nondiscrimination in housing in all aspects of his rental property management business, [name of business], and that [name of business] neither enforces nor permits any occupancy policy or procedure which contains restrictions on the rental of apartments and the provision of rental services and facilities because of family status (i.e. the presence of children).

If you have any questions about this policy, please contact the management.


1. "'Dwelling' means any building, structure, or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more families, and any vacant land which is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location thereon of any such building, structure, or portion thereof." 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b). > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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