Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
EASTERN DIVISION

______________________________

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

           Plaintiff,                                                          CIVIL ACTION NO.:

      v.

ALBERT ZADOW (in his "official
capacity" as Marshall of the Village of
Vinita Terrace) and the Village of
Vinita Terrace, Missouri,

           Defendants.

______________________________

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges as follows:

1. This is a civil action brought by the United States on behalf of Calvin Vinson and Fannie Simpson ("Complainants") against Albert Zadow, Marshall of the Village of Vinita Terrace and the Village of Vinita Terrace, Missouri ("Defendants"), to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. (the "Fair Housing Act").

2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a) and 3617.

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. Defendant Albert Zadow is a Caucasian male who, at all relevant times herein, was the Marshall of the Village of Vinita Terrace, and he was responsible for the enforcement of municipal ordinances for the Village. Defendant Albert Zadow is named in his official capacity as the Marshall of the Village of Vinita Terrace. Defendant Zadow's personal residence was located at 8047 Monroe, Village of Vinita Terrace, Missouri.

5. Defendant Village of Vinita Terrace, at all relevant times herein, is an incorporated community of approximately 119 homes located in the County of St. Louis, Missouri.

6. Complainant Calvin Vinson, an African-American male, was interested in purchasing a single family dwelling at 8020 Monroe in the Village of Vinita Terrace. Mr. Vinson entered into a Buyer Representation Agreement with Complainant Fannie Simpson, an African-American female real estate agent with Coldwell Banker.

7. Complainant Bonnie Kelly is a Caucasian female who owned the subject property, a single family dwelling located at 8020 Monroe in the Village of Vinita Terrace, Missouri. Ms. Kelly entered into an exclusive listing agreement with Coldwell Banker that became effective on October 5, 1998.

8. Complainant Marion Kelly (1) was a Caucasian female, and she was identified as the listing agent for the subject property.

9. In or about late December, 1998, Ms. Simpson and Mr. Vinson both timely filed complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (hereinafter "HUD"), pursuant to the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). The complaints alleged, inter alia , that Defendants Albert Zadow and the Village of Vinita Terrace engaged in discriminatory housing practices because of Ms. Simpson's and Mr. Vinson's race, and that these practices injured Ms. Simpson and Mr. Vinson. The complaints were later amended to add Marion Kelly and Bonnie Kelly as aggrieved persons.

10. As required by the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD (thereinafter the "Secretary") conducted an investigation of the complaints, 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. Therefore, on October 12, 2001, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2), charging Defendants Zadow and Village of Vinita Terrace with engaging in discriminatory practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3617.

11. On November 5, 2001, Complainant Fannie Simpson elected to have the charges resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

12. During October of 1998, Defendants Albert Zadow and the Village of Vinita Terrace discriminated against Ms. Simpson and Mr. Vinson on the basis of race, and intimidated, threatened, and interfered with them in the exercise of, and on account of their having exercised, their federally-protected fair housing rights.

13. On or about October 9, 1998, E. H. LeClaire, a Caucasian male and the inspector for the Defendant Village of Vinita Terrace, inspected the subject property and noted several deficiencies. At this inspection, Complainant Bonnie Kelly learned from Mr. LeClaire that these deficiencies would not prevent her from showing and selling the subject property; these deficiencies would only have to be corrected prior to anyone occupying it.

14. Of six properties, including the subject property, listed for sale in the Village of Vinita Terrace from April 1998 through December 1998, only the subject property was inspected prior to the listing date as required by Ordinance 254. All of the listing agents for the six properties were white.

15. From approximately October 5, 1998, through October 23, 1998, several individuals, including Bonnie Kelly, Marion Kelly, as well as other real estate agents, visited the subject property on business related to the property's listing for sale. None of these individuals were approached by Defendant Zadow regarding the inspection requirements under Ordinance 254, or otherwise.

16. On or about October 21, 1998, Complainant Fannie Simpson arrived at the subject property and noticed Defendant Zadow sitting in his patrol car in the driveway of another house on the block. Marion Kelly saw Defendant Zadow as she entered the subject property but Defendant Zadow did not approach her. Defendant Zadow drove up and down the street several times while Complainant Fannie Simpson showed the subject property to Complainant Calvin Vinson.

17. On October 23, 1998, at approximately 10:30 a.m., Complainant Fannie Simpson arrived at the subject property and again notice Defendant Zadow sitting in his patrol car. Complainant Calvin Vinson had already arrived at the subject property and was accompanied by the following individuals: Anthony Orr, an African-American and friend of Mr. Vinson, and Vivian Dudley, also an African-American who wished to either rent or purchase the subject property from Mr. Vinson, and Maryanne Patterson, a Caucasian female and co-worker of Ms. Dudley.

18. Defendant Zadow watched from his patrol car while Complainant Fannie Simpson showed the subject property to Complainant Calvin Vinson, Anthony Orr, Vivian Dudley, and Maryanne Patterson.

19. After Vivian Dudley and Maryanne Patterson left the premises, Defendant Zadow then approached Complainant Fannie Simpson and demanded her driver's license. After Ms. Simpson provided her driver's license, Defendant Zadow informed Ms. Simpson that he was issuing her a summons for a violation of the municipal ordinance. Ms. Simpson explained that the subject property had been inspected. Defendant Zadow stated that if Ms. Simpson did not accept the summons, he would keep her driver's license.

20. Complainant Fannie Simpson explained to Defendant Zadow that she was not the listing agent for the subject property and told Respondent Zadow that the listing agent would be the proper party for the issuance of a summons. Defendant Zadow then moved closer to Ms. Simpson and threatened to take her to jail.

21. Complainant Calvin Vinson then approached Defendant Zadow and explained that they had previously viewed the subject property without incident. Mr. Vinson stated that when he pointed out to Defendant Zadow that the notice posted on the door of the subject property did not indicate that the property could not be shown, Defendant Zadow stopped writing the summons and put his hand on his gun. Complainant Fannie Simpson protectively placed her arm in front of Mr. Vinson and told him to go back to the porch, as she would have the Realtors' Association handle the matter.

22. Feeling intimidated, Complainant Fannie Simpson signed and accepted a summons for showing a house for sale without the house passing inspection in violation of municipal Ordinance 254. As Defendant Zadow was walking back to his car he turned around and said, "Welcome to Vinita Terrace."

23. As a result of Defendant Zadow's actions, Complainant Calvin Vinson did not make an offer on the real property listed at 8020 Monroe, nor view or contemplate purchase of any other property in the Defendant Village of Vinita Terrace.

24. As a result of Complainant Zadow's actions, Complainant Fannie Simpson lost her commission on the sale of the property at 8020 Monroe. Furthermore, Ms. Simpson felt embarrassed in front of her client who witnessed the event, and in regard to colleagues who have heard of the event. She was also uncomfortable in the practice of her business.

25. After learning what occurred at the subject property on October 23, 1998, Complainant Bonnie Kelly contacted the Chairperson for the Board of Trustees of Defendant Village of Vinita Terrace, Eleanor Finneran. Chairperson Finneran said that the issuance of the summons had been a mistake and that violations only need be corrected prior to issuance of an occupancy permit. The summons against Complainant Fannie Simpson was dismissed in Court.

26. On January 6, 1999, Dave Kinslowe , a male Caucasian and a realtor with Coldwell Banker, showed the subject property to Todd Haupt, a Caucasian male. Mr. Kinslowe observed Defendant Zadow in his patrol car parked on the street as he and Mr. Haupt arrived at and entered the subject property. On January 7, 1999, Complainant Bonnie Kelly signed a contract for the sale of the subject property to Mr. Haupt. The closing occurred on or about January 29, 1999.

27. On or about February 18, 1999, the subject property was re-inspected by Mr. LeClaire, and passed inspection.

28. Tom Phillips, a Caucasian male, was the listing agent for a property located in the Village of Vinita Terrace that was listed in June 1998 but was not inspected. Defendant Zadow approached Mr. Phillips while he was at the property and informed him that the property had not been inspected. Defendant Zadow told Mr. Phillips to contact him after the property had been inspected. On several later occasions, Defendant Zadow saw Mr. Phillips showing the property but never again approached him regarding the inspection of the property, which was never completed.

29. Jessica Dick, a Caucasian female, was listing agent for two properties that were listed but not inspected, in the Village of Vinita Terrace from April 1998 through December 1998. Ms. Dick stated that while she did not recall whether Defendant Zadow saw her showing the properties, he was always in the area when she was having open houses and never approached her regarding the inspection of the houses.

30. From January 1998 through February 1999, the only person cited for violation of Ordinance 254 by Defendant Zadow was Complainant Simpson. Defendant Zadow stated that he could recall issuing only two or three such citations in twenty years as Village Marshall.

31. Defendants, through the actions referred to in paragraphs 13 - 30 above have refused to rent or negotiate for, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, a dwelling because of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a); and

32. By interfering with, intimidating and threatening Complainants Fannie Simpson and Calvin Vinson while they exercised their respective rights to show and view residential real estate listed for sale in contemplation of a purchase, the Defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 3617.

33. As a result of the Defendants' actions, Complainants Fannie Simpson, Calvin Vinson, Bonnie Kelly, and Marion Kelly suffered damages, including economic loss, emotional distress, inconvenience, embarrassment and humiliation.

34. Defendant Zadow's actions and statements described in the preceding paragraphs were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the fair housing rights of Ms. Simpson and Mr. Vinson.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

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

a. Declares that Defendants' discriminatory housing practices violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C.§ 3601 et seq.;

b. Enjoin Defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them from discriminating because of race against any person in any aspect of the purchase or rental of a dwelling;

c. Awards such damages as will fully compensate Complainants Fannie Simpson, Calvin Vinson, Bonnie Kelly and Marion Kelly for actual damages caused by Defendants' discriminatory conduct pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(g)(3);

d. Awards punitive damages to Complainants Calvin Vinson, Fannie Simpson, Bonnie Kelly and Marion Kelly 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.

Respectfully submitted,

RAYMOND W. GRUENDER
United States Attorney

_____________________________
JANE RUND #47298
Assistant United States Attorney
111 South 10th Street, Room 20.333
St. Louis, Missouri 63102
(314) 539-2200
(314) 539-2777 FAX

Of Counsel:

Rebecca B. Bond
Trial Attorney
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

(202) 305-2952
(202) 514-1116 FAX


1. Marion Kelly passed away on April 14, 2001.


Document Filed: December 5, 2001 > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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