Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

Civil Action No. 99cv2900 (JCL)

GARDEN HOMES MANAGEMENT, CORP;
JOSEPH WILF; WESTBOUND
HOMES, INC.; REDSTONE GARDEN
APARTMENTS, INC.; and
CATHY ROSENSTEIN,
     Defendants.

______________________________________

SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 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.
  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614.
  3. Defendant Garden Homes Management, Corp., a New Jersey Corporation, doing business in the judicial District of New Jersey, manages at least three apartment complexes in Parsippany, New Jersey: Lakeview Garden Apartments, located at 200 Vail Road; Westgate Garden Apartments located at 350 Parsippany Road; and Redstone Garden Apartments, located at Redstone Drive ("subject properties"). Each of the subject properties is located in the judicial District of New Jersey.
  4. Rental information and initial processing of applications for the subject properties is handled from a central office located at Lakeview Garden Apartments.
  5. Defendant Joseph Wilf is a resident in the judicial District of New Jersey and is an owner of Lakeview Garden Apartments, a 214-unit apartment complex in Parsippany, New Jersey.
  6. Defendant Westbound Homes, Inc., a New Jersey corporation doing business in the judicial District of New Jersey, owns Westgate Garden Apartments, a 152-unit apartment complex in Parsippany, New Jersey.
  7. Defendant Joseph Wilf is an officer in defendant Westbound Homes, Inc.
  8. Defendant Redstone Garden Apartments, Inc., a New Jersey corporation doing business in the judicial District of New Jersey, owns Redstone Garden Apartments, a 92-unit apartment complex in Parsippany, New Jersey.
  9. Defendant Cathy Rosenstein is a resident in the judicial District of New Jersey and is the rental manager with responsibility for the rental of apartments at the subject properties.
  10. The subject properties are dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF
  1. Defendants, personally or through their agents, engage in housing practices that discriminate on the basis of race or color at the subject properties.
  2. Defendants, personally or through their agents, falsely tell African Americans who visit the subject properties that apartments are not available to rent while they tell white persons who visit the subject properties that apartments are available to rent.
  3. Defendants, personally or through their agents, falsely deny the availability of apartments to African Americans while they offer white persons available apartments.
  4. Defendants, personally or through their agents, fail to provide to African Americans information about apartment availabilities that is as full and complete as the information they provide to white persons.
  5. Defendants, personally or through their agents, discourage African Americans from renting apartments at the subject properties while they encourage white persons to rent apartments at the subject properties.
  6. The United States Department of Justice discovered evidence of the discriminatory housing practices described in paragraphs 11 to 15 through an investigation it conducted in the Spring of 1998 to determine defendants' compliance with the Fair Housing Act. As part of its investigation, the Department of Justice, with the assistance of the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey, conducted a series of three tests to evaluate defendants' compliance with the Fair Housing Act. Testers are persons who, without the intent to rent an apartment, seek information about the availability of dwellings to determine whether discriminatory housing practices are occurring.
  7. In each of the three tests, an African American and a white tester went to Lakeview Garden Apartments and spoke to defendant Cathy Rosenstein about available apartments. Each pair of testers inquired about available two-bedroom apartments for the same time period.
  8. During the first test on April 8, 1998, defendant Cathy Rosenstein told the African American tester that no apartments were available or would be available during the requested time period. Defendant Rosenstein stated that she would put the African American tester's name on a waiting list which she claimed had 18-20 people on it and promised that she would call her as soon as an apartment became available. To date, defendant Rosenstein has not called the African American tester.
  9. On April 9, 1998, the morning after defendant Rosenstein told the first African American tester that no apartments were available, she told the first white tester that an apartment would be available during the exact time period that the African American tester had also requested. Defendant Rosenstein did not mention to the white tester the existence of a waiting list, and held the apartment off of the market without a deposit while the white tester considered whether to rent it.
  10. During the second test in May 1998, a white tester telephoned Lakeview Gardens on May 5, 1998, and spoke to defendant Cathy Rosenstein. The white tester inquired whether any two-bedroom apartments were available. Defendant Rosenstein indicated that there was one two-bedroom apartment that was empty and currently available.
  11. The next morning, on May 6, 1998, the second African American tester went to Lakeview Gardens, met with defendant Cathy Rosenstein, and inquired about available two-bedroom apartments. Defendant Rosenstein stated that it would be impossible to get a two-bedroom apartment and that none were currently available. Defendant Rosenstein gave her an opportunity to put her name on a waiting list but stated that there were at least 20 people ahead of her on that waiting list. The second African American tester requested to be put on the waiting list, but to date, has never heard from defendants.
  12. On May 6, 1998, the second white tester went to Lakeview Garden Apartments and inquired about available two-bedroom apartments for the same time period requested by the second African American tester. Defendant Rosenstein stated to the second white tester that another couple was considering an available two-bedroom apartment, but that she could have it if that couple decided to rent a different unit. Defendant Rosenstein encouraged the second white tester to view the apartment because she felt the previous couple was going to rent a different unit. Defendant Rosenstein made no mention to the white tester of a waiting list.
  13. During the third test on May 8, 1998, the third African American tester went to Lakeview Gardens, met with defendant Cathy Rosenstein, and inquired about available two-bedroom apartments. Defendant Rosenstein twice told him that it would be impossible for him to find an available two-bedroom apartment. She told him that there was a long waiting list of 20-30 people so there would be no way that he could rent an apartment anytime soon. The third African American tester asked to have his name added to the list but, to date, has never heard from defendants.
  14. On May 8, 1998, an hour-and-a-half after defendant Rosenstein told the third African American tester that it would be impossible to find an available two-bedroom apartment, a third white tester went to Lakeview Gardens and inquired about renting a two-bedroom apartment. Defendant Rosenstein stated that two women were considering whether they wanted to rent the available two-bedroom apartment, but invited him to call back in a couple of days to find out if that couple decided to rent. When he called back at the specified time, defendant Rosenstein told him that he could probably rent the available apartment and requested that he come in to fill out an application. Defendant Rosenstein did not mention any waiting list.
  15. The practices of the defendants described above constitute:
    1. A refusal to rent, a refusal to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable or denying dwellings to persons because of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a); and
    2. A representation to persons because of race or color that dwellings are not available for rental when such dwellings are in fact so available, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(d).
SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF
  1. The United States realleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 10, above.
  2. Defendants, personally or through their agents, engage in housing practices that discriminate on the basis of familial status at the subject properties, including:
    1. Limiting families with children to rental of only first floor apartments while permitting persons with no children to rent any vacant units in the complex;
    2. Representing to persons inquiring about apartments that families with children were not permitted to occupy apartments above the first floor;
    3. Discouraging persons with children from renting at the subject properties, while encouraging persons without children to rent there; and
    4. Failing to provide the same information about apartment availabilities to persons with children as provided to persons without children.
  3. The practices of the defendants described above constitute:
    1. A refusal to rent, a refusal to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable or denying dwellings to persons on the basis of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
    2. Discrimination in the terms and conditions, or privileges of the rental of a dwelling that indicates a preference or discrimination on the basis of familial status in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b);
    3. Statements made with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference or discrimination based on a person's familial status in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and
    4. A representation to persons because of their familial status that dwellings are not available for rental when such dwellings are in fact so available in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(d).
  4. The practices of the defendants described in the First Claim for Relief and Second Claim for Relief, above, constitute:
    1. A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.; and
    2. A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
  5. Bona fide apartment seekers who may have been the victims of the defendants' discriminatory housing practices 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.
  6. The defendants' conduct described above was intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of others.

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

  1. Declares that the defendants' policies and practices, as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act;
  2. Enjoins the defendants, their officers, employees, and agents, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:
    1. Discriminating against any person on the basis of race, color or familial status in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
    2. Failing or refusing to notify the public that dwellings owned or operated by the defendants are available to all persons on a nondiscriminatory basis; and
    3. Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of the defendants' unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct;
  3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate each per-son aggrieved by the defendants' discriminatory housing practices for injuries caused by the defendants' pattern or practice of discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B);
  4. Awards each person aggrieved by defendants' pattern or practice of discrimination punitive damages because of the intentional and willful nature of the defendants' conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
  5. Assesses a civil penalty against the defendants in the 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.

JANET RENO
Attorney General

BILL LANN LEE
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

JON M. SEWARD
Deputy Chief MICHELLE M. ARONOWITZ
Attorneys
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
(202) 307-3804

ROBERT J. CLEARY
United States Attorney

MICHAEL A. CHAGARES
Assistant U.S. Attorney
970 Broad Street
Suite 700
Newark, N.J. 07102
(201) 645-2700 > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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