Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EASTERN DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

           Plaintiff,

v.

DEMETRA VLAHAKIS

           Defendant.



No. 04C 3211

Chief Judge Charles P. Kocoras

Magistrate Judge Nan R. Nolan

_______________________________________________________

Susan Brewster, on her own behalf and
As Next Friend of Samantha Brown,
A minor, Aggrieved Persons,           

          Plaintiff,

v.

Demetra Vlahakis

           Defendant.



No. 04C 3525
(Consolidated with 04 C 3211)

Chief Judge Charles P. Kocoras

Magistrate Judge Nan R. Nolan

CONSENT ORDER

Plaintiff, United States of America, initiated this action on May 5, 2004, on behalf of Complainants Susan Brewster, and her daughter, Samantha Brown, pursuant to Section 812, and on behalf of other aggrieved persons pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o) and 3614(a), respectively. The complaint alleges that Defendant Demetra Vlahakis (Defendant), violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of familial status. Defendant, the owner of a five-unit rental building which is located at 8514 West Rascher, in Chicago, Illinois, instructed her tenants, who were trying to sublet their unit, not to rent to anyone with children or teenagers, and then discouraged Susan Brewster from renting the unit because she had a 16-year old daughter who would be living with her. The complaint also alleges that Defendant engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of familial status in the rental of dwellings at her five-unit apartment building, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et. seq. After filing her own private action based upon these facts and allegations, on June 29, 2004, Susan Brewster intervened in the United States' lawsuit against Defendant.

INTRODUCTION

Based upon an investigation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) it was determined that Demetra Vlahakis ("Defendant") owned and managed the subject property, a five-unit apartment building located at 8514 West Rascher, Chicago, Illinois. On or about March, 2002, Cecilia and David Levin informed Defendant that they wanted to move from the apartment they rented from Defendant prior to the expiration of their lease term because they were in the process of buying a house. Defendant instructed the Levins that they were responsible for subleasing their apartment that they were vacating and that any tenant moving into the subject unit should have "no children or teenagers." The Levins then placed an advertisement for the subject unit in the Chicago Tribune's internet edition.

On or around the early part of April 2002, Susan Brewster (Complainant) viewed the subject unit and expressed to the Levins and Vlahakis her interest in renting it. Once Defendant learned that Complainant had a sixteen year-old daughter who would be living with her, Defendant refused to rent Complainant the subject unit stating that she previously had "too many problems with teenagers" and did not feel comfortable renting to them. After Complainant explained that her daughter was well behaved, went to church, and did not cause her any problems, Defendant told Complainant if she rented the unit, she and her daughter would be evicted immediately if there were any problems. Defendant then went upstairs to her unit. Defendant later spoke to the Levins about recommending the Brewsters and reiterated that she did not want to rent to families with children. After meeting Defendant, Complainant believed that Defendant did not want her to live in the subject property and believed that even if she were to rent the subject unit, it would be extremely uncomfortable living there under fear of eviction for the slightest problem.

On August 19, 2002, Complainant Susan Brewster filed a complaint of discrimination (HUD Form 903) with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") alleging that Defendant discriminated against her and her daughter, Samantha Brown, on the basis of their familial status, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§3601, et seq. After investigating, HUD issued an administrative Charge of Discrimination, which Susan Brewster, on her own behalf and as Next Friend for her minor daughter, Samantha Brown, properly elected on April 5, 2004 to be heard in Federal Court. Thereafter, on May 5, 2004, the United States filed this action. On June 29, 2004, after having filed her own federal court action on May 20, 2004, Susan Brewster was granted leave by Chief Judge Kocoras to intervene in the United States' lawsuit against Defendant.

JURISDICTION OF CONSENT ORDER

1. The parties have consented to the entry of this Order. To this end, the Parties stipulate and the Court finds that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o), 3614(a).

GENERAL INJUNCTION

2. The Defendant, her officers, agents, employees, successors and all persons in active concert or participation with her are enjoined, with respect to the rental of dwelling units at the five-unit apartment building located at 8514 West Rascher, Chicago, Illinois, and at any other rental properties the Defendant may own or have interest in from:

  1. Refusing to rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or refusing to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable or denying a dwelling to any person because of familial status;
  2. Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of familial status;
  3. Making, printing, or publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on familial status, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination; and
  4. Coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his or her having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his or her having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted or protected by 42 U.S.C. § 3604.

NOTICE OF DEFENDANT'S NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY

3. Within ten (10) days of the date of entry of this Consent Order, Defendant shall post and prominently display in a suitable public area on the ground floor of her five-unit apartment building located at 8514 West Rascher, Chicago, Illinois, a sign no smaller than 10 by 14 inches indicating that she complies with the nondiscrimination provisions of the Fair Housing Act. A poster that comports with 24 C.F.R. Part 110 will satisfy this requirement.

4. For the duration of this Consent Order, in all future advertising in newspapers, and on pamphlets, brochures and other promotional literature regarding Defendant's five-unit apartment building located at 8514 West Rascher, Chicago, Illinois, and at any other rental properties the Defendant may own or have interest in, she shall place, in a conspicuous location, the statement Equal Housing Opportunity along with the Fair Housing Logo.

5. Within ten (10) days of this Order, defendant shall distribute a notice to tenants at the subject property, approved by the United States, stating that she rents dwellings in accordance with the Fair Housing Act, including its prohibition on discrimination against families with children.

MANDATORY EDUCATION AND TRAINING

6. Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Order, Defendant shall provide a copy of this Order to anyone who participates in the rental or management of apartment units and secure the signed statement from each such person acknowledging that he or she has received and read the Order, and had an opportunity to have questions about the Order answered. This statement shall be substantially in the form of Appendix A.

7. During the term of this Order, within thirty (30) days after the date he or she commences an agency or employment relationship with Defendant, each new member of Defendant's staff or anyone who participates in the rental or management of apartment units that Defendant owns shall be given a copy of this Order and be required to sign the statement acknowledging that he or she has received and read the Order, and had an opportunity to have questions about the Order answered. This statement shall be substantially in the form of Appendix A.

8. Within ninety (90) days of the date of entry of this Consent Order, Demetra Vlahakis shall undergo training on the Fair Housing Act, with particular emphasis on the provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of familial status. The training shall be conducted by a qualified third party, approved by the United States, unconnected to Defendant or her employees, agents or counsel, and any expenses associated with this training shall be borne by Defendant. Defendant shall provide to the United States, within thirty (30) days after the training, the name(s), address(es) and telephone number(s) of the trainer(s); copies of the training outlines and any materials distributed by the trainers; and certifications executed by the covered employees and agents confirming their attendance, in a form substantially equivalent to Appendix B.

PAYMENT OF MONETARY DAMAGES TO AGGRIEVED PERSONS

9. Within 30 days after the entry of this Order, the Defendant will pay to Complainants Susan Brewster and Samantha Brown the sum of thirty-two thousand five hundred dollars ($32,500), in monetary damages. A check payable in that amount shall be sent to The John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic, 28 E. Jackson Blvd., Suite 500, Chicago IL 60604, provided that no amount shall be paid pursuant to this paragraph before Susan Brewster has executed a written release of all claims, legal or equitable, that she might have against Defendant relating to the claims asserted in this lawsuit. (1) Such written release shall be substantially similar in form to the release form in Appendix C.

10. Within sixty (60) days after entry of this Order, Defendants shall deposit the sum of seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500) into an interest-bearing account for the purpose of compensating any additional aggrieved persons who may have been the victims of the discriminatory housing practices at the subject premises, and who may be identified through the procedures set forth in this Section. This money shall be referred to as "the Settlement Fund." Also within sixty (60) days of the date of entry and filing of this Consent Order, the Defendants shall submit proof to the United States that the Settlement Fund account has been established and Defendants have deposited the funds therein. Any interest accruing to the fund shall become a part of the fund and be utilized as set forth herein. In no event shall Defendants be obligated to pay or deposit into the Settlement Fund additional funds beyond the amount specified in this paragraph, regardless of the number of aggrieved persons who file claims pursuant to paragraph 14, below.

11. Within 15 days of the entry of this Order, Defendant shall publish the Notice to Potential Victims of Housing Discrimination ("Notice") at Appendix D informing readers of the availability of compensatory funds. The Notice shall be no smaller 1/15 (3.25" width and 3.125" depth) and shall be published on two occasions in The Reader. The publication dates shall be separated from one another by at least 21 days. Within 10 days of each publication date, Defendant shall provide the newspaper containing the Notice to counsel for the United States. Within 15 days of the entry of this Order, Defendant shall send a copy of the Notice to each of the organizations identified in Appendix E.

12. Within 30 days of the entry of this Order, Defendant shall send by first-class mail, postage prepaid, a copy of the Notice to each past tenant for whom she has an addresses or present tenant of her five-unit apartment building located at 8514 West Rascher, Chicago, Illinois. Within 45 days of entry of this Order, Defendant shall provide to counsel for the United States proof that the Notice has been sent. Nothing in this section shall preclude the United States from making its own efforts to locate and provide notice to potential aggrieved persons. Pursuant to a voluntary agreement between Plaintiff-Intervenor and Defendant, attorneys for Plaintiff-Intervenor, or anyone else acting on their or Plaintiff-Intervenor's behalf, are precluded from representing any potential claimant whose claim involves any acts occurring prior to the date of this Order.

13. Allegedly aggrieved persons shall have 120 days from the date of the entry of this Order to contact the United States in response to the Notice. The United States shall investigate the claims of allegedly aggrieved persons and, within 180 days from the entry of this Order, shall make a preliminary determination of which persons are aggrieved and an appropriate amount of damages that should be paid to each such person. The United States will inform Defendant in writing of its preliminary determinations, together with a copy of a sworn declaration from each aggrieved person setting forth the factual basis of the claim. Defendant shall have fourteen (14) days to review the declaration and provide to the United States any documents or information that he believes may refute the claim.

14. After receiving Defendant's comments, the United States shall submit its final recommendations to the Court for approval, together with a copy of the declarations and any additional information submitted by Defendant. When the Court issues an order approving or modifying the United States' proposed distribution of funds for aggrieved persons, Defendant shall, within ten (10) days of the Court's order, deliver to the United States checks payable to the aggrieved persons in the amounts approved by the Court. In no event shall the aggregate of all such checks exceed the sum of the Settlement Fund, including accrued interest. No aggrieved person shall be paid until he/she has executed and delivered to counsel for the United States the release at Appendix C.

15. In the event that less than the total amount in the Aggrieved Persons Fund, including accrued interest, is distributed to persons deemed to be aggrieved by the United States, the Court shall order the remainder returned to the defendant.

RECORD KEEPING AND REPORTING

16. During the term of this Order, Defendant agrees to retain all rental records (including inquiry logs) maintained for the period from March 1, 2002, to the present. Defendant has a continuing obligation to maintain all such records throughout the duration of this Order. Upon reasonable notice, Defendant shall produce or permit representatives of the United States to review any rental records of her five-unit apartment building located at 8514 West Rascher, Chicago, Illinois, in the possession or control of the Defendant, or her agents, employees, or representatives which the United States believes to be useful in identifying persons who may be entitled to relief under this Order.

17. During the term of this Order, Defendant shall advise counsel for the United States in writing within fifteen (15) days of receipt of any written or oral complaint against the Defendant regarding discrimination on the basis of familial status, or conduct prohibited by 42 U.S.C. § 3617, and a description of the resolution of such complaint. If the complaint is written, the Defendant shall provide a copy of it with the notice; if the complaint is oral, he shall include a written summary of it with the notice. The notice shall include the full details of the complaint, including the complainant's name, address, and telephone number. The Defendant shall also promptly provide the United States all information it may request concerning any such complaint and its actual or attempted resolution.

DURATION OF CONSENT ORDER AND TERMINATION OF LEGAL ACTION

18. This Consent Order shall remain in effect for three (3) years after the date of its entry. By consenting to entry of this Order, the United States and Defendants agree that in the event that Defendants engage in any future violation(s) of the Fair Housing Act, such violation(s) shall constitute a subsequent violation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C)(ii).

19. The Court shall retain jurisdiction for the duration of this Consent Decree to enforce the terms of the Decree, after which time the case shall be dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiff may move the Court to extend the duration of the Decree in the interests of justice.

20. The parties to this Consent Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution.

TIME FOR PERFORMANCE

21. Any time limits for performance imposed by this Consent Order may be extended by mutual written agreement of the parties.

COST OF LITIGATION

22. Each party to this litigation will bear its own costs and attorney fees associated with this litigation.

ORDERED this _____ day of _______________________, 2004.
________________________________
CHARLES P. KOCORAS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CHIEF JUDGE

Copies furnished:

Joan Laser, AUSA
Leslie Matlaw, Esq.
Professor F. Willis Caruso
Anthony Barone, Esq.

The terms of this Consent Order have been agreed to by the parties, as indicated by the signatures of counsel below, as well as by the Complainants, Susan Brewster and Samantha Brown, and the duly authorized representative of the Defendant, Demetra Vlahakis, and the parties request the entry of this Consent Order:

FOR THE UNITED STATES


PATRICK J. FITZGERALD
United States Attorney _____________________________
JOAN LASER
Assistant United States Attorney
219 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 5000
Chicago, IL 60604
Tel: (312) 353-1857
Fax: (312) 886-4073
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General _____________________________
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Section Chief
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing & Civil
Enforcement Section - G Street
TIMOTHY J. MORAN
Deputy Chief
AVERY L. JOHNSON
Trial Attorney
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Tel.: (202) 514-4713
Fax: (202) 514-1116


For Plaintiff-Intervenor ________________________
Leslie V. Matlaw, Esq.
[ fairhousinglaw.net ]
P.O. Box 4426
Chicago, IL 60680-4426
Tel.: (312) 804-3527 ________________________
Professor F. Willis Caruso
The John Marshall Law School Fair
Housing Legal Clinic
28 East Jackson Blvd., Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60604
Tel.: (312) 786-2267


For Defendant ________________________
Anthony Barone, Esq.
721 Enterprise Drive, Suite 200
Oak Brook, IL 60523
Tel.: (630) 472-0037

APPENDIX A

STATEMENT OF RECEIPT AND

UNDERSTANDING OF CONSENT ORDER

On __________________, 200__, I was instructed by ______________________ with respect to my responsibilities under the Consent Order entered by the federal district court in United States v. Demetra Vlahakis, Civil Action No. 04C 3211 (N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division), and the federal Fair Housing Act and applicable state laws. I also was instructed as to the ______________________Apartment complex rental policies and procedures. I have received copies of and have read the Consent Order and Defendants' non-discrimination policy. I have had an opportunity to have my questions about the Consent Order and the Fair Housing Act answered. I understand my legal responsibilities and will comply with those responsibilities.

____________________________
(Signature)

____________________________
(Print name)

_______________
(Date)


APPENDIX B

CERTIFICATE OF ATTENDANCE

I, ______________________________, hereby acknowledge that on _____________________I received training by _____________________________on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19, and that I have read the Consent Order entered by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division in United States v. Demetra Vlahakis, Civil Action No. 04C 3211.

I understand my obligation not to discriminate on the basis of familial status in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

I agree to comply with the Fair Housing Act and the Court's Order in the above-mentioned civil action.

________________________

Sworn to and subscribed before me this ___ day of _______, _____.

_______________________
NOTARY PUBLIC

My commission expires ___________________


APPENDIX C

FULL AND FINAL RELEASE OF CLAIMS

I, _______________________, on behalf of myself and family members, agents, heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns, pursuant to the terms, provisions, and conditions of the Consent Order approved by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division on_____________________, 2004 in the case of United States v. Demetra Vlahakis, Civil Action No. 04C 3211, consolidated with Brewster v. Vlahakis, Civil Action No. 04C 3525 ("the lawsuit") and in consideration of the payment of _______________ do fully, finally and forever release, discharge, and hold harmless Demetra Vlahakis (hereinafter "the Defendant"), along with her insurer(s), attorneys, related companies, principals, predecessors, successors, assigns, affiliates, partners, directors, officers, agents, employers, shareholders, subsidiaries, employees, former employees, heirs, executors, and administrators and any persons acting under their respective direction or control (hereinafter "Releasees"), from any and all fair housing claims set forth, or which could have been set forth, in the Complaint in this lawsuit that I may have against Defendant or any of the Releasees for any of Defendant's actions or statements related to those claims through the date of this Consent Order, including claims for damages (both compensatory and punitive), costs, fines and attorneys' fees.

I affirm that the only consideration for signing this Full and Final Release of Claims are the terms stated in the Consent Order signed by the parties, and the monetary payment referenced above. I have accepted the terms of this Release and the Consent Order because I believe them to be a fair and reasonable settlement and for no other reason. This Release and the Consent Order contain and constitute the entire understanding and agreement between the parties.

______________________________
DATE

______________________________
NAME (PRINT)

_________________________________
SIGNATURE


APPENDIX D

(Notice)

IMPORTANT NOTICE

to people who have lived at or applied to live at a FIVE-UNIT APARTMENT BUILDING LOCATED AT 8514 WEST RASCHER, in Chicago, Illinois.

The Department of Justice has recently settled a lawsuit against the owner of the above-listed apartment building.

The Department of Justice's lawsuit alleged that the owner of this residential apartment building discriminated against applicants on the basis of familial status (discrimination against families with children under 18 years of age, or against a person who is pregnant).

The owner of this apartment building denies that she engaged in any discrimination.

The settlement agreement involves a monetary payment to victims of the alleged discrimination. You may be eligible to receive compensation if:

*You applied to live at this Apartment Building between March 2002 and August 2002 and were turned down.

If you believe that you may have a claim, please call:

1-800-896-7743


APPENDIX E

List of Organizations

Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities

111 West Jackson, 12th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Telephone: 312/341-5678
Fax: 312/341-1958
TDD: 1-800-786-6736

The John Marshall Law School
Fair Housing Legal Support Center

315 S. Plymouth Court
Chicago, IL 60604
Telephone: (312) 987-2397
Fax: (312) 427-9438
TTY: (312) 427-3036


1. Defendants shall fax photocopies of the transmittal letter and the check to counsel for the United States at 202-514-1116.


Document Entered: October 26, 2004 > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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