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Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

United States Attorney
Assistant United States Attorney
Chief, Civil Division
California Bar No. 93390
Assistant United States Attorney
Room 7516, Federal Building
300 North Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Telephone: (213) 894-2727
Facsimile: (213) 894-7819

Attorneys for Plaintiff
United States of America

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,                                                       No. CV

                                         Plaintiff,                                                         COMPLAINT




Plaintiff United States of America alleges:

1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Mary McFarlin 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.

2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o) and 3614. Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o) as Defendant is located in this judicial district and the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in this judicial district.

3. Defendant Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura ("Defendant") is a California State entity authorized to engage in or assist in the operation of low-income housing.

4. Defendant constructed the Rose Garden Apartments located at 123 South Ventura Avenue, Ventura, California with Community Development Block Grant funds provided by the City of San Buenaventura. Defendant owns and manages the Rose Garden Apartments which consists of fourteen (14) apartments.

5. Mary McFarlin ("Ms. McFarlin") is a physically disabled individual who is mobility impaired and requires the use of a walker. Ms. McFarlin is handicapped within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).

6. On or about December 4, 1997, Ms. McFarlin applied for tenancy at the Rose Garden Apartments and indicated on her application that she is disabled. On May 1, 1998, Ms. McFarlin moved into apartment number 3 in the Rose Garden Apartments. The unit occupied by Ms. McFarlin constitutes a " dwelling " within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).

7. The parking lot adjacent to the Rose Garden Apartments complex has fourteen (14) parking spaces. Parking spaces eight (8) and nine (9) are accessible parking spaces and are the only parking spaces adjacent to an accessible route.

8. The parking lot contains four curbed planters (islands) which are made of cement and are five and a half inches in height. The planters extend the entire length of the parking spaces and are filled with soil, plants, and trees. Ms. McFarlin was assigned parking space number three (3), a space with a curbed planter bordering the left side of the parking space. Parking space number 3 is not handicapped accessible.

9. In August, 1999, Ms. McFarlin verbally requested a handicap parking space as an accommodation of her disability. She was placed on a waiting list for a handicap space.

10. During the period from approximately August 31, 1999 to October 10, 1999, Ms. McFarlin and her roommate, Barry Slade, sent letters to the Defendant Housing Authority, to the mayor of the City of San Buenaventura, and to the City of San Buenaventura Redevelopment Agency informing them that one of the two handicap spaces was not being utilized by the tenant assigned to it because the tenant did not own a car, and that the second handicap parking space had been assigned to a tenant who moved into the Rose Garden Apartments after Ms. McFarlin moved in.

11. Although there were several means by which Defendant could have provided Ms. McFarlin with a reasonable accommodation without imposing any burden on Defendant or other tenants, Defendant made no attempt to accommodate Ms. McFarlin's request for a handicap parking space after she was placed on the waiting list.

12. On January 4, 2000, Ms. McFarlin parked her vehicle in parking space number 3 after returning from dinner. Upon exiting her vehicle, she tripped on the curbed planter and fell to the ground. Ms. McFarlin experienced severe pain and was taken to a local emergency room.

13. As a result of Defendant's failure to reasonably accommodate Ms. McFarlin's disability, on May 1, 2000, she moved out of Rose Garden Apartments because of the lack of an accessible parking space.

14. On July 25, 2000, Mary McFarlin filed a timely complaint on behalf of herself pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a) with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (hereinafter " HUD "). The complaint alleges that the Defendant has improperly refused to grant Ms. McFarlin a reasonable accommodation necessary to allow Ms. McFarlin an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

15. As required by Section 810(a) and (b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD (hereinafter the " Secretary ") has conducted an investigation of the complaint, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on the information gathered in this investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), has determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred. Therefore, on August 20, 2002, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging that the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura/Rose Garden Apartments engaged in discriminatory practices in violation of Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3604.

16. On August 28, 2002, Ms. McFarlin elected to have the charges resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).

17. By requesting a handicap parking space, Ms. McFarlin sought an accommodation that was reasonable and necessary, on account of her handicap, to afford her equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. By refusing make the requested accommodations, the Defendant has violated 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B).

18. As a result of Defendants' unlawful conduct, Ms. McFarlin suffered damages including, but not limited to, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and economic loss.

19. The discriminatory actions of the Defendant were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Ms. McFarlin.

WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays for relief as follows:

    1. A declaration that the conduct of Defendant as set forth above violates the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3604;

    2. An injunction against Defendant, its agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from discriminating against any person with disabilities by refusing to grant reasonable accommodations to such persons.

    3. An award of damages to compensate Mary McFarlin for all injury occasioned by her loss of opportunity to rent, pain and suffering, economic loss, emotional distress, and other injuries caused by defendant's discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1);

    4. An award of punitive damages because of the intentional and willful nature of defendant's conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1);

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

DATED: September______ , 2002

United States Attorney
Assistant United States Attorney
Chief, Civil Division

Assistant United States Attorney

Attorneys for Plaintiff
United States of America

Document Filed: September 27, 2002 > >
Updated August 6, 2015