Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM, Chief
KEISHA DAWN BELL, Deputy Chief
KATHLEEN M. PENNINGTON, Trial Attorney
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. - N.W.B.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Telephone:  (202) 353-9759
Facsimile:  (202) 514-1116

McGREGOR W. SCOTT
United States Attorney
KIRK SHERRIFF
Assistant United States Attorney
1130 O Street, Room 3654
Fresno, CA 93721
Telephone: (559) 498-7332

Attorneys for Plaintiff United States of America



UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
FRESNO DIVISION



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

Case No.

           Plaintiff,

v.

COMPLAINT

COVENANT RETIREMENT
COMMUNITIES WEST, INC., d/b/a
COVENANT VILLAGE OF TURLOCK,
MT. MIGUEL COVENANT VILLAGE
and THE SAMARKAND,

          Defendant. ________________________________

The United States of America alleges:

1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the Fair Housing Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).

3. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) & (c), because a substantial part of the actions giving rise to the United States' claims occurred in this District; Defendant does business as Covenant Village of Turlock, which is located in this District; and Defendant, a California corporation, has designated an agent for service of process in this District.

DEFENDANT AND SUBJECT PROPERTIES

4. At all times relevant to this complaint, Defendant Covenant Retirement Communities West, Inc. has owned and done business as Covenant Village of Turlock ("Turlock"), Mount Miguel Covenant Village ("Mount Miguel") and The Samarkand, which are residential care facilities for elderly persons.

5. At all times relevant to this complaint, Defendant has managed the operation of Turlock, Mount Miguel and The Samarkand and leased the rental units there.

6. Turlock is located at 2125 North Olive, Turlock, California. Turlock has the capacity to house 325 elderly residents in independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing units. It has numerous common use areas, including a dining room, an auditorium, pool, a library, a beauty salon, a creative arts center, a woodworking shop, an exercise room, and a mini-market. Three meals per day are served in the dining room.

7. Mount Miguel is located at 325 Kempton St., Spring Valley, California. Mount Miguel has the capacity to house 436 elderly residents in independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing units. Mount Miguel's common use facilities include a dining room, an auditorium, a library, craft and hobby rooms, a woodworking shop, a beauty salon, a pool, a tennis court, and a mini-market. Three meals per day are served in the dining room.

8. The Samarkand is located at 2550 Treasure Drive, Santa Barbara, California. The Samarkand has the capacity to house 375 elderly residents in independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing units. The common use facilities at The Samarkand include a dining room, an auditorium, a chapel, a health clinic, a pool, a library, a woodworking shop, an exercise room, two beauty/barber shops, and a mini-mart. Three meals per day are served in the dining room.

FAIR HOUSING CLAIMS

9. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-8, above.

10. Turlock, Mount Miguel and The Samarkand are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).

11. Residents, applicants and prospective residents at Turlock, Mount Miguel and The Samarkand who have disabilities such that they use mobility aids, including canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and motorized scooters, are "handicapped" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).

12. Defendant has and employs a policy requiring residents who use motorized mobility aids at Turlock and Mt. Miguel to sign a "Motor Driven Scooters Agreement," which mandates that such residents purchase at least $100,000 of personal liability insurance and hold Defendant harmless for any injuries or damage caused by the scooter.

13. Defendant has and employs a written policy requiring residents of The Samarkand who use motorized mobility aids to purchase personal liability insurance of at least $300,000 and to name The Samarkand as an additional-named insured on their insurance policies. Proof that the insurance has been purchased must be provided to The Samarkand in the form of an insurance certificate.

14. Defendant has and employs a policy that prohibits residents and prospective residents from using mobility aids, including canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and/or motorized scooters, in the dining rooms at Turlock, Mount Miguel and The Samarkand.

15. Defendant has and employs written policies that prohibit persons with disabilities who use motorized mobility aids from using such aids inside the Redwood Building and the Fellowship Center at Turlock, and inside any common buildings at Mt. Miguel and The Samarkand. Such aids must be parked in limited exterior areas, and at Mt. Miguel are prohibited near the front entrance to the Village Centre.

16. Defendant has and employs written policies at The Samarkand that set conditions on persons with disabilities who use motorized mobility aids. Such restrictions include requiring the following: preapproval by the Campus Administrator, an assessment by the clinic nurse as to the individual's ability to transfer to/from the aid, a doctor's written order for use of the aid, proof of the individual's competence at operating the motorized aid, an assessment by the Environmental Services Department as to the safety of the cart, and completion of a driving test administered by the Environmental Services Department.

17. Defendant has and employs a written policy at Turlock that requires persons who use mobility aids, including crutches, walkers and wheelchairs, to live in its assisted living facility, rather than in independent living units. Turlock personnel tell prospective residents who use mobility aids that they must live in the assisted living facility. Residents who, subsequent to moving into Turlock, require the use of mobility aids must transfer to the assisted living facility.

18. Defendant, through the actions described in paragraphs 9-17, above, has

  1. 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);
  2. Discriminated in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling, and in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such a dwelling, because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2);
  3. Made, printed or published, or caused to be made, printed or published, a notice or statement with respect to the rental of dwelling that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on handicap or an intention to make such a preference, limitation, or discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and
  4. Represented to persons because of handicap that a dwelling is not available for rent when such dwelling is in fact available, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(d).

19. Defendant's conduct, described above, constitutes:

  1. A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619; and
  2. 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.

20. On information and belief, there are persons who have been injured by, and may have suffered damages as a result of, Defendant's conduct. All of these persons are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).

21. Defendant's conduct, described above, was intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of others.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

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

1. Declares that Defendant's discriminatory policies and practices, as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19;

2. Enjoins Defendant, its officers, agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with it from:

  1. Discriminating on account of disability against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
  2. Interfering with or threatening to take any action against any person in the exercise or enjoyment of rights granted or protected by the Act; and
  3. Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of Defendant's past unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory policies and practices.
  4. 3. Awards monetary damages to all persons harmed by Defendant's discriminatory practices for injuries caused by Defendant's discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B) and 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(B);

    4. Assesses a civil penalty against Defendant in order to vindicate the public interest, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3614(d)(1)(C) & 12188(b)(2)(C) and 28 C.F.R. § 85.3(b)(3).

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

    Respectfully submitted,

    JOHN ASHCROFT
    Attorney General



    McGREGOR W. SCOTT
    United States Attorney


    KIRK SHERRIFF
    Assistant United States Attorney
    ______________________________
    R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
    Assistant Attorney General
    ______________________________
    STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM, Chief
    Housing and Civil Enforcement
    Section ______________________________
    KEISHA DAWN BELL, Deputy Chief
    KATHLEEN M. PENNINGTON, Trial Attorney
    U.S. Department of Justice
    Civil Rights Division
    Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20530
    Phone: (202) 353-9759
    Fax: (202) 514-1116

    Document Filed: December 20, 2004 > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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