R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
JEANINE M. WORDEN
Housing and Civil Enforcement
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
Attorneys for Plaintiff
SP-0291CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE
United States Attorney
MICHAEL A. CHAGARES
United States Attorney's Office
970 Broad Street, Room 502
Newark, New Jersey 07102
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v. Civil Action No.
COLTS PRIDE HOMEOWNERS
ASSOCIATION; BRYAN SCHEFF;
UNITED PROPERTY MANAGEMENT,
INC.; and MICHAEL
On January 28, 2002, the United States filed this action on behalf of Louis and Gerasimova Scafuri (the Scafuris) to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. (The Act). In its Complaint, the United States alleges that Colts Pride Homeowners Association; Bryan Scheff; United Property Management, Inc.; and Michael Pogorkelsky (defendants) violated the Act by refusing to make a reasonable accommodation for Mr. Scafuri, a person with a disability who suffers from pulmonary asbestosis, asbestos-related pleural disease, and chronic "irritative" bronchitis. As a result of his disabilities, Scafuri has difficulty breathing and walking.
On or about June 16, 2000, and September 5, 2000, Louis Scafuri (Scafuri) and his wife, Gerasimova Scafuri, filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) timely complaints pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a) alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. Following an investigation, HUD issued a finding of reasonable cause, and the complaint was referred to the Department of Justice for filing in federal court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o)(1).
Defendants do not admit that their actions violated the Fair Housing Act. Nevertheless, defendants and the United States agree, in order to avoid costly and protracted litigation, that the claims against defendants should be resolved without an evidentiary hearing. Accordingly, the parties have agreed to the entry of this Consent Decree, subject to approval and entry by the Court.
It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED:I. INJUNCTION
Defendants, their agents, employees, successors, and assigns, as well as any other persons in active concert or participation with them, are hereby enjoined from:
- Unlawfully discriminating on the basis of disability, as prohibited by the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B); and
- Coercing, intimidating, threatening, or retaliating against the Scafuris for participating in this case.
REQUESTS FOR REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
- Defendants have established, and will follow, specific guidelines for processing requests for reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who reside at Colts Pride in Freehold, New Jersey (the Guidelines). These Guidelines are attached as Appendix A and must include the following elements:
- Provisions for accepting and processing requests for accommodations in defendants' policies, practices, services, procedures, or facilities;
- A provision that each request for reasonable accommodation and response thereto be fully documented;
- A provision that all requests for accommodation be acknowledged, in writing, within seven (7) days of any defendant's receipt of an oral or written request; however, defendants reserve the right in the case of an oral request to seek written confirmation of the nature of such request. Defendants agree to assist, if necessary, any person who has made an oral request in obtaining such written confirmation.
- A provision that those requesting a reasonable accommodation be notified, in writing, of the decisions regarding their request for accommodation within thirty (30) days of any defendant's receipt of the request and, if a request is denied, an explanation of the basis for such denial shall be included in this written notification;
- A provision that the final written decision regarding the reasonable accommodation request will be retained in defendants' files;
- A provision that defendants shall consider all requests for accommodations because of disability and shall grant those requests that are reasonable within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act;
- A provision that requests for reasonable accommodation shall be treated as confidential requests and information about them shall only be shared with those officers of the Association who are responsible for making decisions about them; and
- A provision that defendants shall not impose any additional fees, costs, or otherwise retaliate against any person who has exercised his or her right under the Fair Housing Act to make one or more reasonable accommodation requests and, if applicable, receive a reasonable accommodation.
- Defendants shall provide the Guidelines to all current and future members of the Colts Pride Homeowners Association (the Association) for the term of this Consent Decree. Defendants shall also simultaneously provide the identification, address, and telephone number of the persons to whom a reasonable accommodation request should be submitted.
- Defendants shall request educational materials from New Jersey Protection and Advocacy concerning the substantive provisions of the Fair Housing Act, with particular emphasis on those provisions requiring that requests for reasonable accommodations to rules, policies, or procedures must be granted if such accommodations may be necessary because of a person's disability. Defendants shall review the materials provided and consult, if necessary, with New Jersey Protection and Advocacy regarding those materials.
- Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Decree, defendants shall provide a copy of this Decree to all their current agents and current employees involved in the management or administration of the Association and secure the signed statement at Appendix B from each such person acknowledging that he/she has received, read and understands the Decree.
- Within thirty (30) days after the date on which a new employee or agent commences employment or an agency relationship with defendants, each such individual involved in the management or administration of the Association shall be given a copy of this Decree and be required to sign the statement at Appendix B acknowledging that he/she has received, read and understands the Decree.
- Thirty (30) days after the date of entry of this Consent Decree, and annually thereafter for the duration of this Consent Decree, defendants shall forward to Counsel for the United States a copy of the signed statements of each current agent and current employee referred to in Section III (C) above.
- Throughout the term of this Decree, defendants shall retain all records relating to implementation of the provisions of this Decree, including but not limited to minutes from any meeting(s) of the members and/or officers the Association. The United States shall have the opportunity to inspect and copy any such records after giving reasonable notice to defendants.
- Defendants shall send a certified check to the Scafuris in the amount of FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS ($15,000), via certified mail, within thirty (30) days upon receipt of a release of claims from the Scafuris, such release to be forwarded by the United States to defendants. Defendants also agree to waive all fines assessed by the Association against the Scafuris related to the window air conditioning unit.
- Within thirty (30) days of the date of entry of this Order, defendants shall purchase and install a Samsung ductless air conditioning unit in the Scafuri's master bedroom, such unit to be serviced and maintained by defendants so long as the Scafuris reside at Colts Pride. Any service of the air conditioning unit obligated by defendants shall be based on normal wear and tear of the unit. Defendants shall have the option of removing the ductless air conditioning unit if the Scafuris no longer reside at Colts Pride and if defendants remove the unit, they shall be obligated to restore the Scafuris dwelling to its original condition prior to installation of the unit.
- This Consent Decree shall remain in effect for a period of two (2) years and sixty (60) days from the date of its entry.
- The United States' claims against defendants are hereby dismissed without prejudice. The Court, however, shall retain jurisdiction over this action for the term of this Consent Decree to enforce the terms of the Decree.
- The United States and defendants shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with this Decree prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution.
Any time limits for performance imposed by this Consent Decree may be extended by the mutual agreement of the United States and defendants.
Each party to this Consent Decree shall bear its own costs and attorney's fees associated with this litigation.
IT IS SO ORDERED:
this _____ day of _____________, 2003.
United States District Judge
Agreed to by the parties as indicated by the signatures of counsel below:
Loren Rosenberg Lightman
FOR THE UNITED STATES:
Steven H. Rosenbaum
PROCEDURES FOR REQUESTING REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
It is the policy of the Board of Directors of the Colts Pride Homeowners' Association not to discriminate against any person on the basis of handicap, race, color, national origin, religion, sex or familial status in the occupancy of dwellings at Colts Pride or in the provision of services in connection with these dwellings, pursuant to the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., the rules and regulations thereunder, and state and local law. In so doing, the Board of Directors of the Colts Pride Homeowners' Association has adopted a policy to comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(3)(B).
A "reasonable accommodation" is a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice or service that may be necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
Requests for reasonable accommodations can be made by completing the form attached and submitting it to the property manager's office (address and telephone number are attached).
You can also call the property manager and request that a form be mailed to you. Requests can also be submitted orally, although it is more helpful if they are in writing. Also, please be advised that, if necessary, the the Board will seek written confirmation of the nature of oral requests. You should advise the Board immediately if you need assistance in providing any requested written confirmation and the Board will assist you. The Board will keep all requests for a reasonable accommodation due to disability confidential, except to make or assess a decision to grant or deny a reasonable accommodation request or unless disclosure is required by law.
Requests made to the Board will be acknowledged within seven (7) days of the Board's receipt of the oral or written request for an accommodation. The Board will issue a response to the request, in writing, within thirty (30) days of the Board's receipt of the reasonable accommodation request. If the request is denied, the response will include an explanation for the basis of the denial. The Board will retain final decisions as to reasonable accommodation requests in its files.
The Board will consider all requests for reasonable accommodations because of disability and shall grant those requests that are reasonable within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act. The Board will not permit additional fees, costs or any sort of retaliation against any person who has exercised his or her right under the Fair Housing Act to make one or more reasonable accommodation requests and, if applicable, to receive a reasonable accommodation.
If you feel that your request has been unjustly denied, you may contact the U.S. Department of Justice, Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. - G Street, Washington, D.C. 20530, ATTN DJ #175-48-245.
APPLICATION FOR REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION
Please complete this form and return to the Colts Pride Homeowner's Association Board of Trustees at the following address:
Colts Pride Homeowners Association Board of Trustees
c/o United Property Management
73 Brunswick Woods Drive
East Brunswick, NJ 08816
You may also call the Property Manager's office at (732) 238-0221.
Requests for reasonable accommodations will not be processed unless they are property submitted to the above office.
Do you have a disability (i.e. a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities)?
_______ YES _______ NO
Please provide a description of the reasonable accommodation that you are requesting.
PLEASE NOTE: If it is not obvious that the reasonable accommodation you requested is needed because of your disability, it may become necessary for you to provide documentation connecting your disability to the accommodation.
I hereby acknowledge that I have received, read and understand the Consent Decree entered in United States v. Colts Pride Homeowners Association, et al., CV 02-421.
I agree to act in accordance with that Consent Decree. I understand that I should not discriminate against any person in any aspect of the ownership of homes at Colts Pride on the basis of a person's race, sex, national origin, religion, family status (having children under the age of 18) or handicap.
Signature of Employee
Name of Employee (Printed)
Name of Employer(s)
Employee's Job Position or Title
In consideration for the money paid in the amount of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), upon receipt of this sum, the sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, I hereby release all causes of action, demands and claims that I,________, my heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns may have whether known or unknown against Colts Pride Homeowners Association; Bryan Scheff; United Property Management, Inc.; and Michael Pogorkelsky (defendants), their agents, employees, successors and assigns, and any other person in active concert or participation with them, concerning or relating in any way to the allegations set forth in United States of Americav. Colts Pride Homeowners Association et al., Civ. Action No. 02-421, and I hereby discharge any and all discrimination claims that could be asserted as a result of the alleged acts of defendants for conduct prior to the filing of the Complaint in this action.
I also agree that I will not make any negative statement, written, electronic, or oral, about defendants arising out of the facts alleged in the United States' Complaint.
It is understood and agreed that this is a full and final release of all claims pertaining to alleged housing discrimination on the basis of disability related to a request for a reasonable accommodation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B), at Colts Pride, and it releases all such claims at the time of this release that are known and unknown, suspected and unsuspected, foreseen and unforseen.
It is understood and agreed that the release and the Consent Decree entered in the above-cited case constitute the entire agreement between the parties; that the terms of this release are contractual and not a mere recital; and that this release is binding upon and adheres to the benefit of the parties, jointly and severally, and the executors, administrators, personal representatives, heirs, successors, and assigns of each.
The undersigned further declares and represents that no promise, inducement, or agreement not herein expressed has been made to the undersigned.
Subscribed and sworn to before me this ______ day of _________, 2003.
My commission expires ___________________.
Document Entered: October 7, 2003 > >