MARILU LORA, ANTONIA
AL-HINNAWI, and LISA CATO,
The United States of America, by its attorney, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, brings this action on behalf of Tanya Edmond and Tahir Edmond, pursuant to section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), and alleges as follows:
1. This court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
2. Tanya Edmond and Tahir Edmond, her minor son, are residents of Illinois and are African-American.
3. Defendant Marilu Lora is a resident of Illinois and the owner of a four-unit rental apartment building at 2734 West Argyle, Chicago, Illinois ("the property"), which is in the Northern District of Illinois.
4. Defendant Antonia Al-Hinnawi is the sister of Marilu Lora and at all relevant times, lived in the first floor apartment and managed the property.
5. Defendant Jamal Al-Hinnawi is Antonia Al-Hinnawi's son and at all relevant times, lived with his mother in the first floor apartment.
6. Defendant Lisa Cato is Antonia Al-Hinnawi's daughter.
7. The four units in the property are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
8. On or about November 28, 2000, Tanya Edmond filed a timely complaint alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of race with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). That complaint alleged, inter alia, that from June 1999 to May 2000, defendants Marilu Lora, Antonia Al-Hinnawi, and Jamal Al-Hinnawi discriminated against Tanya and Tahir Edmond by: (1) making statements to the Edmonds regarding the rental of an apartment indicating a preference or intent to discriminate based on their race; (2) intimidating, threatening, and interfering with the Edmonds in their use and enjoyment of their apartment based on their race; and (3) forcing the Edmonds to move from their apartment before their lease expired because of their race.
9. Pursuant to the requirements of 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 on the information gathered in the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause existed to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on or about September 13, 2002, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination ("the Charge") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging defendants Marilu Lora, Antonia Al-Hinnawi, and Jamal Al-Hinnawi with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of section 804(a) and (c), and section 818 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a), (c), and 3617. (1)
10. On or about October 3, 2002, defendant Marilu Lora elected to have the HUD Charge resolved in a civil action in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
11. Following this election, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
12. As alleged in the HUD complaint described in paragraph 8 above, Tanya Edmond first visited the property in June 1999 and spoke with Antonia and Jamal Al-Hinnawi about renting an apartment. Both Antonia and Jamal Al-Hinnawi made statements about African-Americans, indicating a preference not to rent to Tanya Edmond because of her race. Notwithstanding these statements, Tanya Edmond rented the apartment.
13. Prior to the Edmonds moving into the apartment, defendant Antonia Al-Hinnawi told a white tenant at the property that now that she had rented to African-Americans, they would have roaches and that the only reason she rented the unit to the Edmonds was because she feared Tanya Edmond would file a discrimination complaint against her.
14. On or about June 29, 1999, Tanya Edmond signed a one-year lease for the second floor apartment of the property, which was directly above the unit occupied by defendants Antonia and Jamal Al-Hinnawi.
15. Beginning on or about August 1999 and continuing until the Edmonds moved out of the apartment in May 2000, defendant Jamal Al-Hinnawi harassed, intimidated, and threatened Tanya and Tahir Edmond on the basis of their race. This conduct included playing loud music, shouting racial epithets such as "nigger bitch" and "African animal," banging on the door of the Edmonds' unit and on the ceiling of his unit (the Edmonds' floor), and threatening the Edmonds with bodily harm.
16. In or about October 1999, defendant Antonia Al-Hinnawi told Tanya Edmond that she should no longer use the garage to park her car because her son, defendant Jamal Al-Hinnawi, might harm her.
17. Tanya Edmond complained to defendant owner Marilu Lora about the harassing and threatening conduct of Lora's nephew, Jamal Al-Hinnawi, but Lora failed to stop the unlawful actions of her nephew.
18. Tanya Edmond complained to manager Antonia Al-Hinnawi about the harassing conduct of her son, but Antonia Al-Hinnawi failed to stop her son's unlawful actions and encouraged Ms. Edmond to move from the apartment.
19. In or about March or April 2000, defendant manager Antonia Al-Hinnawi was hospitalized and told Tanya Edmond to contact her daughter, defendant Lisa Cato, concerning matters relating to her tenancy. When Tanya Edmond contacted defendant Lisa Cato to complain about defendant Jamal Al-Hinnawi's continuing abusive conduct, Lisa Cato failed to stop her brother's unlawful actions and told Ms. Edmond to vacate the apartment because her family could not guarantee the Edmonds' safety.
20. As a result of defendants' actions described above, Tanya and Tahir Edmond were forced to move out of their apartment on or about May 1, 2000.
21. Each defendant, through their actions described in paragraphs 12-19 above, has:
- made unavailable or denied a dwelling because of race, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
- discriminated in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b);
- made statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and
- coerced, intimidated, threatened, or interfered with the Edmonds in their exercise or enjoyment of rights granted or protected under the Fair Housing Act in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617.
22. Tanya and Tahir Edmond are aggrieved persons, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of the defendants' conduct described above.
23. The discriminatory actions of defendants were intentional, willful, or taken in disregard for the rights of Tanya and Tahir Edmond.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that this court:
1. declare that the discriminatory housing practices of defendants as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a), (b), (c), and 3617;
2. enjoin the defendants, any agents, employees, and successors they may have, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them from: (1) making statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination based on race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); (2) intimidating, threatening, and interfering with rights granted or protected by the Fair Housing Act in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617; (3) discriminating on the basis of race in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of facilities in connection therewith in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b); and (4) denying a dwelling based on race in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
3. award such damages as would fully compensate Tanya and Tahir Edmond for injuries caused by defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and
4. award punitive damages to Tanya and Tahir Edmond pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1).
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
PATRICK J. FITZGERALD
United States Attorney
PATRICK W. JOHNSON
Assistant United States Attorney
219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604
1. Section 818 of the Fair Housing Act is codified at 42 U.S.C. § 3617.
Document Filed: November 1, 2002 > >