UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,Plaintiff, COMPLAINT
v.JURY TRIAL DEMANDED
JOHN E. AND SHIRLEY L. PRICE,
Defendants.The United States of America alleges as follows:
NATURE OF ACTION
1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of William B. Price a.k.a. William B. Freeman Price (Freeman Price) to enforce the provisions of 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., (the "Fair Housing Act").
JURISDICTION & VENUE
2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o). Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o) as the Defendants are located in this judicial district and the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in this judicial district.
3. At all times relevant to this Complaint, Defendants John E. and Shirley L. Price owned and operated Valley View Apartments (Valley View), a 24-unit apartment complex located at 2120 46th Avenue, Longview, Washington. Defendants John and Shirley Price are residents of Kelso, Washington.
4. The units at Valley View are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
5. Mr. Freeman Price is handicapped or disabled within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h). Mr. Freeman Price suffers from diabetic neuropathy, for which he has used a cane starting intermittently in 2001. In 2004, his neuropathy worsened and he began using the cane more frequently. Another result of the neuropathy is that he has an 18% oxygen-uptake deficit, for which he has been using oxygen since 1992. The neuropathy substantially limits his ability to seat himself, rise from a sitting position, and maintain his balance.
6. Mr. Freeman Price is currently a resident of Valley View and has resided nearly continuously at Valley View since August 1985. Mr. Freeman Price moved into his present apartment on or about January 16, 1993.
7. On or about May 6, 2004, Mr. Freeman Price telephoned Defendant John Price and told him that he had been unable to access his car in the parking lot due to inadequate space to open his car door. Mr. Freeman Price explained that, because of his disability, he needs to open his door fully to enter and exit his car. Mr. Freeman Price told Defendant John Price that he needs to either park in two spaces or have a handicap accessible parking space.
8. On or about May 24, 2004, Mr. Freeman Price parked his car across two spaces and Defendant John Price demanded that Mr. Freeman Price move his car or face eviction.
9. On or about May 24, 2004, Mr. Freeman Price sent via certified mail a letter to the Defendants informing them that he qualified as a disabled individual under the Fair Housing Act and requesting that the Defendants provide him with two contiguous spaces until a handicapped-sized space was available.
10. The Defendants refused Mr. Freeman Price's request in a June 1, 2004 letter.
11. On or about June 1, 2004, the Defendants changed their tenant rules in retaliation for Mr. Freeman Price's complaints. The new rules mandated that each tenant could have one parking space if they had one vehicle and two spaces if they had two vehicles, whereas the old rules were silent on the number of parking spaces each tenant could use.
12. Mr. Freeman Price's request that the Prices permit him to park in two spaces until they provided him a larger parking space constituted a request for reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B). Mr. Freeman Price's request was both reasonable and necessary to afford Mr. Freeman Price an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
13. On or about June 9, 2004, the Defendants posted and mailed a 20-day notice terminating Mr. Freeman Price's tenancy, which did not state a cause for Mr. Freeman Price's eviction.
14. On or about July 2, 2004, the Defendants served Mr. Freeman Price with a Summons and Complaint, which resulted in an eviction hearing.
15. At the September 3, 2004, eviction hearing, the judge denied the Defendants' attempted eviction of Mr. Freeman Price on the grounds that it was retaliatory.
16. Defendants did not grant Mr. Freeman Price's reasonable accommodation request before selling Valley View on or about January 31, 2005.
17. On or about April 13, 2005, Mr. Freeman Price filed a timely housing discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), alleging that the Defendants had violated the Fair Housing Act by failing to make a reasonable accommodation and by intimidating him.
18. 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 March 26, 2007, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination ("the Charge") 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.
19. On April 2, 2007, Mr. Freeman Price made a timely election to have the claims asserted in the Charge decided in a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
20. On April 2, 2007, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceedings on Mr. Freeman Price's Complaint.
21. Following this Notice of Election, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
FAIR HOUSING ACT VIOLATIONS
22. The Defendants, through the actions referred to above, have:
a. Discriminated against Mr. Freeman Price in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of handicap, in violation of
42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2)(A);
b. Refused to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, which were necessary to afford Mr. Freeman Price an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, in violation of
42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B); and
c. Coerced, intimidated, threatened or interfered with Mr. Freeman Price in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his having exercised or enjoyed any right granted or protected by the Fair Housing Act, in violation of
42 U.S.C. § 3617.
23. Freeman Price is an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and has suffered damages as a result of the Defendants' discriminatory conduct as described above.
24. The discriminatory actions of the Defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of Mr. Freeman Price's federally protected rights.
WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays for relief as follows:
1. A declaration that the conduct of Defendants as set forth above violates the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.;
2. An injunction against the Defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from discriminating on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.;
3. An award of monetary damages to Freeman Price, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and
4. The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
Dated: April 30, 2007 ALBERTO GONZALESAttorney General
JEFFREY C. SULLIVAN WAN J. KIM
United States Attorney Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
BRIAN KIPNIS STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Civil Chief Chief, Housing and Civil
United States Attorney's Office Enforcement Section
700 Stewart Street       Civil Rights Division
Seattle, WA 98101-1271
Phone: (206) 553-7970 _______________________
Fax: (206) 553-4426 REBECCA B. BOND
ELLIOT D. FLADEN
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Northwestern Building, 7th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20530
Phone: (202) 353-9732
Fax: (202) 514-1116
Entered May 1, 2007 > >