FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CA No. 9:99CV287
This action was commenced by the United States of America on October 25, 1999, on behalf of Rhonda Fawcett, and her minor children ("the Fawcetts") pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq. ("the Act"). The complaint alleges that Dwain Christopher ("Defendant") discriminated against the Fawcetts on the basis of race by refusing to rent them the house located at FM 225, Route 3; Box 2400; Nacogdoches, TX 75964 ("the rental house") because two of the children are bi-racial (black/white) and by making statements indicating a preference, limitation, or discrimination on the basis of race with respect to renting the rental house, in violation of Sections 804(a) and (c) of the Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a) and (c).
Specifically, the complaint alleges that on or about July 21, 1997 Defendant showed Ms. Fawcett the house, agreed to rent it to her, and instructed her to have her Section 8 counselor, Sharon Conner, call him about the rental. However, approximately 30 minutes later, Defendant informed Ms. Conner that he would not rent to Ms. Fawcett because he was concerned for the safety of the house and the Fawcetts due to the racial composition of Ms. Fawcett's family and the fact that the house was located in an all white, "red neck" community. He informed Ms. Conner that he was taking the house off the market. Defendant Christopher filed an answer to the complaint denying the plaintiff's allegations.
The parties desire to avoid protracted and costly litigation. Therefore, without a trial or adjudication on the merits, the parties have consented to the entry of this Order, as indicated by the signatures appearing below.I.
It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that the Defendant, his agents and employees, successors and assigns, and all persons in active concert or participation with him in the ownership and/or operation of all rental property owned and managed by the Defendant are hereby permanently enjoined from:
- Refusing to rent, or otherwise making dwellings unavailable, to persons because of race in violation of Section 804(a) of the Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
- Making or causing to be made statements or advertisements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination on the basis of race in violation of Section 804(c) of the Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and
- Discriminating in any aspect of the rental of any dwelling in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.
- Within fourteen (14) days of the date of entry of this Order, Defendant, and all persons associated with the management, rental, or administration of Defendant's properties shall attend one hour of training concerning their responsibilities under federal, state, and local fair housing laws, regulations, or ordinances. This training session may be conducted by defendant's attorney. All persons attending the training sessions pursuant to this provision will complete a form acknowledging attendance, under penalty of perjury, which Defendant will retain.
- Within fourteen (14) days of the entry of this Order, Defendant shall secure a signed statement, upon which the parties will agree, from each such employee and agent indicating that he or she has received, read, and understands this Consent Order and Defendant's policy of nondiscrimination and further understands that violation of this Order may result in sanctions against them by Defendants and/or the Court. Defendant shall retain a copy of such signed statement.
- For the duration of this Order, each new agent or employee of Defendant with rental or oversight responsibilities at any rental residential property owned or managed by Defendant shall be given a copy of and required to read this Consent Order, and sign the statement described in Section II.B above, within ten (10) days after the date he or she commences such an employment or agency relationship. Defendant shall retain the statements signed pursuant to this provision.
- For the duration of this Order, each new agent or employee of Defendant with renal or oversight responsibilities at any rental residential property owned or managed by Defendant shall be attend one hour of training concerning their responsibilities under federal, state, and local fair housing laws, regulations, or ordinances, as described in Section II.A above. All persons attending the training sessions pursuant to this provision will complete a form acknowledging attendance, under penalty of perjury, which Defendant will retain.
Within thirty (30) days after the date of this Order, Defendant shall take the following steps to notify the public of his nondiscriminatory policies:
- Provide all current tenants of the rental house with a written notice, conforming with that set out at Attachment A, indicating that Defendant follows a policy of nondiscrimination in housing and that his occupancy policy contains no restrictions on the rental of units and the provision of rental services and facilities on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or familial status. Defendant shall retain a copy of this notice and provide a copy of this notice to the United States.
- Include the words "Equal Housing Opportunity" in all advertising conducted by Defendant for Defendant's properties in newspapers, telephone directories, radio, television, school or church bulletins or announcements, or other media, and on all billboards, signs, postings on public or private bulletin boards, pamphlets, brochures and other promotional literature. Those words should be prominently placed and easily legible.
- Include the following phrase in any lease Defendant uses for any rental residential property owned or managed by Defendant:
We are an equal housing opportunity provider. We do not discriminate because of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, handicap or familial status (having children under age 18).
- List all vacancies of the rental house with the Nacogdoches Housing Authority.
Six (6) months after the entry of this Order, and thereafter every six (6) months for a period of three (3) years after entry of this Order, Defendant shall deliver to counsel for the United States a report containing the following information:
- Copies of all signed statements secured pursuant to Section II A, B, and D above (the Statements for Section II A and B need only be submitted with the first Report);
- An Occupancy Report for the rental house which shall report the names, ages, and race of all tenants and their family members who moved into or lived at the house during the reporting period;
- The identification, including the name, address and number of units, of any residential property in which Defendant commenced any ownership or management interest during the reporting period and/or which Defendant has made available for rental during the reporting period, including whether Defendant has rented any other residential property he presently owns, either for monetary or in-kind remuneration;
- Any change in ownership or management during the reporting period of any dwelling previously made available for rental by the Defendant; and
- Representative copies of any advertisements placed by Defendant regarding Defendant's rental properties during the reporting period.
Defendant shall, for forty (40) months following the date of entry of this Order, preserve all records which are the source of, or contain, any of the information pertinent to Defendant's obligations under this Order. Upon reasonable notice to counsel for Defendant, representatives of the United States shall be permitted to inspect and copy all pertinent records of Defendant at any and all reasonable times; provided, however, that the United States shall endeavor to minimize any inconvenience to Defendant from inspection of such records.VI.
Defendant shall advise counsel for the United States in writing within thirty (30) days of receipt of any written complaint against the Defendant, or against any of Defendant's employees, rental agents or residential rental properties, regarding equal opportunity in housing. This notification shall include full details of the complaint and any action taken by the Defendant, and shall be accompanied by all pertinent documents. (1)VII.
It is FURTHER ORDERED that within thirty (30) days following the entry of this Order, Defendant shall make a monetary disbursement of Nine Thousand Dollars ($9,000.00) to complainants in compensatory damages to settle all monetary claims involving Ms. Fawcett and her minor children arising out of this action. Such payment shall be made by cashiers checks in the following amounts: (1) Six Thousand Six Hundred Dollars ($6,600.00) payable to Rhonda Fawcett, on behalf of herself and three of her minor children, and (2) Two Thousand Four Hundred Dollars ($2,400.00) payable to Louis Fawcett, on behalf of two of her minor children. The cashiers checks shall be sent to Counsel for the United States at the address shown below:
Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
1800 G Street, NW Suite 7002
Washington, DC 20006
In consideration of said payments, Rhonda Fawcett shall execute a release signifying that the amount received constitutes full settlement of any claims she and her minor children, may have related to the subject matter of this lawsuit, and Louis Fawcett shall execute a release signifying that the amount received constitutes full settlement of any claims for two minor children, may have related to the subject matter of this lawsuit.VIII.
The Court retains jurisdiction to enforce the terms of this agreement for a period of forty (40) months or six (6) months from the date of receipt of the last report required by Section IV, whichever is greater. The parties to this Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution.
The undersigned apply for and consent to the entry of this Order:
|For Defendant||For the United States|
David J. Guillory, Esquire
510 Pilar Street
Nacogdoches, TX 75961
Jeanine M. Worden
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
Mathey D. Orwig
Assistant United States Attorney
660 N. Central Expressway
Plano, TX 75074
(972) 509-1209 (fax)
Texas Bar No. 15325300
This is to inform you that Dwain Christopher follows a policy of nondiscrimination in housing in all aspects of his rental property management business and that he neither enforces nor permits any occupancy policy or procedure which contains restrictions on the rental of apartments and the provision of rental services and facilities because of race or color.
If you have any questions about this policy, please contact the management.
1. All documents required to be sent to the United States pursuant to this Consent Order shall be addressed to: Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, Post Office Box 65998, Washington, D.C. 20035-5998.
Document Filed: February 20, 2001 > >