Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
WESTERN DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

ROGER MATUSOFF RENTAL CO.;
ROGER MATUSOFF; REBECCA
MCCORD; PEGGY PENWELL; and
LONNIE PENWELL,
     Defendants.

______________________________

AMENDED COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. It is brought on behalf of Rebecca Grimm, Kenneth A. Devers, Jr., Denise Hatfield, Edward Henry and Tamara Davis-Gales, pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act ("the Act"), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), as well as pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).
  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o) and 3614(a).
  3. Defendant Roger Matusoff Rental Company ("Matusoff Rental Company") is a rental company that leases apartments. It owns three complexes in Ohio, including the seventy-two unit Villa de Marquis apartment complex in Xenia, Ohio.
  4. Defendant Roger Matusoff is the managing agent and owner of Matusoff Rental Company.
  5. Defendant Rebecca McCord is the manager of Matusoff Rental Company and, as such, has responsibility for the Villa de Marquis complex in Xenia, Ohio.
  6. Defendant Peggy Penwell is the former on-site co-manager of the Villa de Marquis complex in Troy, Ohio, which is owned by Matusoff Rental Company. She was also the acting on-site co-manager of the Villa de Marquis complex in Xenia from January 1997 through March 1997.
  7. Defendant Lonnie Penwell is the former on-site co-manager of the Villa de Marquis complex in Troy, Ohio. He was also the acting on-site co-manager of the Villa de Marquis complex in Xenia from January 1997 through March 1997.
  8. The apartments owned by Defendant Matusoff Rental Company at the Villa de Marquis complex in Xenia, Ohio are dwellings within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
  9. Rebecca Grimm is a white female who resides in Springfield, Ohio. Kenneth A. Devers, Jr. is a white male who resides in Akron, Colorado. They were employed by defendants as on-site co-managers of the Villa de Marquis complex in Xenia, Ohio from April 1997 through September 1997.
  10. Denise Hatfield is a white female who resides in Xenia, Ohio. Edward Henry is an African-American male who resides in Xenia, Ohio with Denise Hatfield. Tamara Davis-Gales is an African-American female who resides in Xenia, Ohio.
  11. On or about August 11, 1997, Rebecca Grimm filed a timely complaint alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of race or color with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). In her complaint, Ms. Grimm alleged that defendants engaged in unlawful discrimination on the basis of race or color by interfering with her right to aid other persons in the exercise of their rights under the Fair Housing Act.
  12. On or about August 11, 1997, Kenneth A. Devers, Jr. filed a timely complaint alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of race or color with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). In his complaint, Mr. Devers alleged that defendants engaged in unlawful discrimination on the basis of race or color by interfering with his right to aid other persons in the exercise of their rights under the Fair Housing Act.
  13. On or about September 22, 1997, Denise Hatfield filed a timely complaint alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of race or color with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). In her complaint, Ms. Hatfield alleged that defendants engaged in unlawful discrimination on the basis of race or color by refusing to rent to her and by discriminating in the terms of rental occupancy.
  14. On or about September 22, 1997, Edward Henry filed a timely complaint alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of race or color with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). In his complaint, Mr. Henry alleged that defendants engaged in unlawful discrimination on the basis of race or color by refusing to rent to him and by discriminating in the terms of rental occupancy.
  15. On or about August 11, 1997, Tamara Davis-Gales filed a timely complaint alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of race or color with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). In her complaint, Ms. Davis-Gales alleged that defendants engaged in unlawful discrimination on the basis of race or color by refusing to rent to her and by discriminating in the terms of rental occupancy.
  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 complaints filed by Rebecca Grimm, Kenneth A. Devers, Jr., Denise Hatfield, Edward Henry and Tamara Davis-Gales, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on information gathered in the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on September 28, 1999, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
  17. On or about October 25, 1999, defendants elected to have their Charge resolved in a civil action filed in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
  18. Following the above elections, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence civil actions, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
  19. From at least 1997, defendants had a policy of denying apartments to African-American applicants. Defendants made statements to Rebecca Grimm and Kenneth A. Devers, Jr. instructing them that they did not want any more African-American tenants to reside at the Villa de Marquis complex in Xenia. Defendants additionally instructed Ms. Grimm and Mr. Devers to racially identify the applications from African-Americans, including by making a mark or notation on these applications, and to take other actions in furtherance of defendants' policy.
  20. In June 1997, Denise Hatfield and Edward Henry sought to rent an apartment at the Villa de Marquis complex in Xenia. Defendants denied them an apartment because of Mr. Henry's race or color.
  21. In July 1997, Tamara Davis-Gales sought to rent an apartment at the Villa de Marquis complex in Xenia. Defendants denied Ms. Davis-Gales an apartment because of her race or color.
  22. From at least 1994, defendants and their agents have made statements and implemented policies providing that no children are permitted to live in one bedroom apartments and no more than one child can live in two bedroom apartments at the Villa de Marquis complex in Xenia. These policies have prevented families with children from renting apartments at the Villa de Marquis.
COUNT I
  1. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-21, above.
  2. Defendants, through the actions referred to in paragraphs 19 through 21, have:
    1. refused to rent, or to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, a dwelling because of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
    2. discriminated in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling because of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b);
    3. made, or caused to be made, statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination based on race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and
    4. coerced, intimidated or interfered with any person on account of his having aided or encouraged another person in the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted under this Act, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617.
  3. Rebecca Grimm, Kenneth A. Devers, Jr., Denise Hatfield, Edward Henry and Tamara Davis-Gales 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.
  4. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful and taken in disregard for the rights of the complainants Rebecca Grimm, Kenneth A. Devers, Jr., Denise Hatfield, Edward Henry and Tamara Davis-Gales.
COUNT II
  1. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-21 and 24-26, above.
  2. The conduct of the defendants described in paragraphs 19-21, above, constitutes:
    1. a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights secured by 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.; and
    2. a denial to a group of persons of rights granted by 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., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
COUNT III
  1. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-18 and 22, above.
  2. Defendants, through the actions referred to in paragraph 22 above, have:
    1. refused to rent, or to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, a dwelling because of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
    2. discriminated in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling because of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b); and
    3. made, or caused to be made, statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination based on familial status, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).
  3. The conduct of the defendants described in paragraph 22, above, constitutes:
    1. a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights secured by 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.; and
    2. a denial to a group of persons of rights granted by 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., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
  4. In addition to Rebecca Grimm, Kenneth A. Devers, Jr., Denise Hatfield, Edward Henry and Tamara Davis-Gales, there may be other victims of defendants' discriminatory actions and practices who are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). All of these persons may have suffered actual injury and damages as a result of the above actions and practices.
  5. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful and taken in disregard for the rights of Rebecca Grimm, Kenneth A. Devers, Jr., Denise Hatfield, Edward Henry and Tamara Davis-Gales, and the other victims of this discrimination.

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the court enter an ORDER that:

  1. Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of the defendants as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.;
  2. Enjoins the defendants, their agents, employees, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them from discriminating on the basis of race, color or familial status against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
  3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate Rebecca Grimm, Kenneth A. Devers, Jr., Denise Hatfield, Edward Henry and Tamara Davis-Gales, for injuries caused by the defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1) and 3614(d)(1)(B); and
  4. Awards punitive damages to Rebecca Grimm, Kenneth A. Devers, Jr., Denise Hatfield, Edward Henry and Tamara Davis-Gales pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1) & 3614(d)(1)(B).
  5. Awards such actual damages as would fully compensate each other identifiable victim of defendants' discriminatory housing practices for the injury suffered as a result of these discriminatory practices, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B);
  6. Awards punitive damages to each other identifiable victim of defendants' discriminatory housing practices, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
  7. Assesses a civil penalty against the defendants in order to vindicate the public interest, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C).

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

JANET RENO
Attorney General

BILL LANN LEE
Acting Assistant Attorney General

JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

ISABELLE M. THABAULT
Deputy Chief

ELLEN M. BOWDEN
Trial Attorney
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
Tel.: (202) 305-0835

SHARON J. ZEALEY
United States Attorney
200 W. 2nd Street
Room 602
Dayton, OH 45402
Tel.: (513) 684-3711 > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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