FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CANDLELIGHT MANOR COMPLAINT
The United States of America, by Margaret M. Chiara, United States Attorney, Charles R. Gross and Ronald M. Stella , Assistant United States Attorneys, hereby alleges:Introduction
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. §§ 3601-3619.
2. The United States brings this action on behalf of Peter and Cindy Gately; their minor child; and Regina Gately (together "aggrieved persons").II. Jurisdiction and Venue
3. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
4. Venue is proper in the Western District of Michigan under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), for the events giving rise to this claim occurred in Holland, Michigan, which is in the Western District of Michigan.III. The Subject Property
5. Candlelight Manor Condominiums ("Candlelight Manor") consists of approximately seventy manufactured homes located at 155 East 48th Street in Holland, Michigan. The subject property is a manufactured home located at 155 East 48th Street, Lot #29 in Candlelight Manor. The subject property consists of three bedrooms (measuring approximately 10' X 11', 11' X 11', and 11' X 12'), a living room, dining room, kitchen and two full bathrooms. As with other residences in Candlelight Manor, the bylaws of the Candlelight Manor Condominium Association apply to the subject property.
6. The subject property, as well as the other residences in Candlelight Manor, are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).IV. The Defendant
7. Defendant Candlelight Manor Condominium Association ("the Association") is a domestic, non-profit Michigan corporation. Its registered office is located at 155 East 48th Street, Lot #80. The Association is governed by a seven-person Board of Directors. The Association is responsible for adopting and enforcing the bylaws applicable to residences in Candlelight Manor, including bylaws pertaining to the occupancy of a residence. Each owner of a residence at Candlelight Manor is a member of the Association and pays a monthly condominium fee to the Association.V. The Aggrieved Persons
8. Regina Gately resides at the subject property, which is owned by the Regina Gately Trust.
9. Peter Gately is Regina Gately's son. Prior to February 1999, he resided in the subject property with his mother, Regina Gately, and his wife, Cindy Gately. In February 1999, his daughter was born, increasing the number of residents in the subject property to four persons.VI. Allegations
10. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-9 above.
11. From on or about June 1982 to at least January 2002, the following occupancy standard applied to homes in Candlelight Manor:
[N]o more than three (3) persons shall permanently occupy or reside in any mobile home within the Project without the express prior written approval of the association. In the event that a violation of this restriction by a family in occupancy results from the birth or adoption of a child, or the marriage or re-marriage of a family member, this restriction shall be suspended as to such family for a period of one year to enable the family a reasonable time with which to cure such violation or otherwise dispose of the Unit.
Article VII, Section 4(a), Candlelight Manor Condominium Association Bylaws.
12. The Association's "no more than three person" occupancy standard was unreasonable and significantly more restrictive than the local occupancy code applicable to homes in Holland, Michigan, under which a family of four could have lived in the subject property by right. Through its enforcement of its more restrictive occupancy policy against the Gatelys, as described below, the Association discriminated on the basis of familial status as defined under 42 U.S.C. § 3602(k), in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b).
13. On or about March 17, 1999, the Gatelys received a letter from the Association stating they were in violation of the occupancy bylaws based on the February 1999 birth of their daughter, whose residency with her parents in her paternal grandmother's three-bedroom home increased the number of occupants from three to four - one more than allowed under the Association's bylaws. On or about May 25, 1999, the Gatelys received a second letter from the Association, reiterating that they were in violation of the occupancy bylaws.
14. On or about June 28, 1999, the Association's attorney notified the Gatelys in writing that they would be required to move out of Candlelight Manor by March 17, 2000, because their family of four had violated the "no more than three person" occupancy bylaw.
15. In addition to the Gatelys, the Association informed other residents of Candlelight Manor that the birth of another child to a family already comprised of three persons would result in the family's eviction within one year after the child's birth.
16. One of Peter and Cindy Gatelys' reasons for wanting to remain in Candlelight Manor was that Regina Gately babysat her granddaughter. In October 2000, Peter and Cindy Gately purchased a two-bedroom home in Candlelight Manor, to avoid being evicted pursuant to the restrictive occupancy bylaws. Prior to this purchase, Peter and Cindy Gately were required to go before the Board to obtain its approval. At this meeting, Board members told them that if they had another child, they would have to move out of this new unit within one year.
17. On or about October 29, 1999, Regina Gately, Peter Gately and Cindy Gately filed a verified complaint 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). Their complaint alleged that the Association had discriminated unlawfully against them on the basis of familial status by refusing to permit them to reside in Candlelight Manor as a family of four, including a minor child.
18. In accordance with the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint filed by the Gatelys, 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 existed to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred on the basis of familial status. Accordingly, on December 17, 2002, the Secretary, through his designee, issued a charge pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendant with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19.
19. On January 8, 2003, the Gatelys elected to have the Charge resolved in a civil action in federal district court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
20. On January 9, 2003, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceeding on the complaint filed by the Gatelys.
21. Following this Notice of Election, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
22. By agreement of the parties, the date by which the United States could timely file its federal complaint in this litigation was extended to April 11, 2003.
23. Through the actions described in paragraphs 11-17, above, Defendant Candlelight Manor Condominium Association has:
- Denied and made unavailable dwellings to the Gatelys on the basis of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
- Discriminated against the Gatelys in the terms, conditions or privileges of the sale of a dwelling because of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b); and
- Made or caused to be made notices and statements with respect to the sale 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 sect; 3604(c).
24. Peter and Cindy Gately; their minor child; and Regina Gately are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of the Defendant's conduct.
25. The discriminatory actions of Defendant were intentional, willful and taken in disregard of the rights of others.VII. Prayer for Relief
WHEREFORE, the United States asks that the court enter an order that:
1. Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of the Defendant as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619;
2. Enjoins the Defendant, its agents, employees, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with it from discriminating because of familial status against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate the Gatelys for injuries caused by Defendant's discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and
4. Awards punitive damages to the Gatelys pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1).
The United States further asks for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
Respectfully submitted,MARGARET M. CHIARA
United States Attorney
CHARLES R. GROSS
Assistant United States Attorney
Chief, Civil Division
RONALD M. STELLA
Assistant United States Attorney
5th Floor, The Law Building
330 Ionia Avenue, NW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
Document Filed: April 10, 2003 > >