Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EAST ST. LOUIS DIVISION

__________________________________________

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

           Plaintiff,

v.

Civil Action No.

SHANRIE CO., INC.,
DAN SHEILS,
NETEMEYER ENGINEERING
ASSOCIATES, INC.,
THOUVENOT, WADE &
MOERCHEN, INC.,

          Defendants.

__________________________________________)

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the Fair Housing Act, as amended ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619. It is brought on behalf of Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), and pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).
  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345, and 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o) and 3614(a).
  3. Venue is proper because the Defendants reside, and a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claims alleged in this action arose, in the Southern District of Illinois.
  4. Applegate Apartments is a multi-unit apartment complex located on Cantwell Drive, Belleville, Illinois 62223. Five buildings with 12 units each are completed and occupied. A sixth building also containing 12 units is under construction. None of the buildings has an elevator. Defendants plan on building at least two additional buildings with a total of 24 additional units using the same design.
  5. Applegate Apartments was designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 13, 1991. Each unit is a "dwelling" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
  6. Each of the ground floor units (20 units in five completed buildings, 4 units in the building under construction and 8 units in the planned buildings), are "covered multifamily dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(7)(B), and are subject to the design and construction requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).
  7. Defendant Shanrie Co., Inc. ("Shanrie") is an Illinois corporation headquartered in Belleville, Illinois. Shanrie is the builder for Applegate Apartments and the owner of the property.
  8. Defendant Dan Sheils is the President of Shanrie. Defendant Sheils is personally responsible for selecting the design of the buildings and is responsible for their construction. Defendant Sheils directed the engineers to not include accessible ramps to the covered units.
  9. Defendant Netemeyer Engineering Associates, Inc. is the engineering firm responsible for the design of Applegate Apartments. Netemeyer Engineering Associates is an Illinois corporation located in Aviston, Illinois.
  10. Defendant Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. ("TWM") is the engineering firm that prepared the site plan for Applegate Apartments. TWM is a Missouri corporation located in Swansea, Illinois.
  11. COUNT I

  12. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 10, above.
  13. Complainant Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Opportunity Council ("EHOC") is a non-profit fair housing enforcement agency with its principal place of business at 1027 South Vandeventer Avenue, 4th Floor, St. Louis, Missouri 63110.
  14. On or about September 29, 2004, EHOC conducted accessibility testing of the common areas and representative units at Applegate Apartments. Complainant's testing revealed violations of the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
  15. On or about September 29, 2004, Complainant filed a complaint of discrimination (HUD Form 903) with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") alleging that Defendants had discriminated against it on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.
  16. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §3610(a), (b) & (f), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint filed by EHOC, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based upon the information gathered during the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on or about March 15, 2005, HUD issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging the Defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
  17. On or about March 25, 2005 Defendant Shanrie elected to have the Charge of Discrimination resolved in a civil action filed in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
  18. On or about May 25, 2005, HUD's Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceeding on the complaint filed by EHOC.
  19. Following this Notice of Election, on March 29, 2005, the Secretary of HUD, through the Region V Regional Counsel of HUD, authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o)(1).
  20. The Defendants have failed to design and construct Applegate Apartments so that, inter alia,:
  21. a. the public use and common use portions are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;

    b. all doors within the ground floor units are sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs; and

    c. the ground floor units contain the following features of adaptive design:

    (i) an accessible route into and through the dwelling; (ii) electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls in accessible locations; and (iii) usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual using a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.

  22. The Defendants, through the actions referred to in the preceding paragraph, have:
  23. a. Discriminated in the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, dwellings to renters because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1);

    b. Discriminated against persons in the terms, conditions or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with a dwelling, because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2); and

    c. Discriminated in the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, dwellings to renters because of handicap by failing to design and construct covered multifamily dwellings with the required accessibility features, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3).

  24. EHOC is an aggrieved person as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i) and has suffered damages as a result of Defendants conduct described above.
  25. The discriminatory actions of the Defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of others.
  26. COUNT II

  27. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 22, above.
  28. The conduct of Defendants described in paragraphs 1 through 22 constitutes:
  29. (a) a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619,

    or

    (b) a denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619, which denial raises an issue of general public importance.

  30. In addition to EHOC, there may be other victims of Defendants' discriminatory actions and practices who are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). These persons may have suffered actual injury and damages as a result of the above actions and practices.

Prayer for Relief

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

1. Declares that Defendants' policies, practices, and conduct, as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act;

2. Enjoins Defendants, their officers, employees, agents, successors and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:

a. Failing or refusing to bring the ground floor units and public use and common use areas at Applegate Apartments into compliance with 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C);

b. Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, victims of the Defendants' unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct; and

c. Designing or constructing covered multifamily dwellings in the future that do not contain the accessibility and adaptability features required by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C);

3. Awards monetary damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1), and 3614(d)(1)(B), to all persons harmed by the Defendants' discriminatory practices, including EHOC; and

4. Assesses a civil penalty against each Defendant in an amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C) in order to vindicate the public interest.



The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.

ALBERTO R. GONZALES
Attorney General


_________________________
RONALD J. TENPAS
United States Attorney
Southern District of Illinois
__________________________
LAURA J. JONES
Assistant United States Attorney
Nine Executive Drive
Fairview Heights, Illinois 62208-1344
(618) 628-3700
(618) 622-3810 (Fax)
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
_________________________
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and Civil
Enforcement Section __________________________
TIMOTHY J. MORAN
Deputy Chief
JULIE J. ALLEN (Lead Attorney)
Trial Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil
Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. - G St.
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 307-6275
(202) 514-1116 (Fax)

Dated:


Filed: April 14, 2005 > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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