UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
ADI MANAGEMENT, INC.;
HERBERT DONNER; and
HIGHLAND TERRACE, L.L.C.;
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ALLEGES:
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
- This action is brought by the United States on behalf of the estate of Hillary Smith, pursuant to § 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o) ("The Act").
- Defendant ADI Management, Inc. ("ADI"), a New York State corporation, is a property management company located at 172-90 Highland Avenue, Jamaica, New York 11432. Among the properties ADI manages is a residential apartment complex consisting of 88 apartments located at 172-90 Highland Avenue, Jamaica Estates, Queens (the "subject property").
- Defendant Herbert Donner is the President of ADI Management, Inc. and upon information and belief, the principal of Highland Terrace L.L.C. responsible for its day to day management.
- Defendant Highland Terrace L.L.C. ("Highland") is a New York State limited liability company. Highland is the landlord and owner of the subject property.
- Hillary Smith ("Ms. Smith") resided at the subject property until she died at the age of 34 in May 2001. Patricia C. Smith, Ms. Smith's mother, is the administrator of her estate.
- Upon information and belief, Ms. Smith suffered from widely metastatic breast cancer to the bone, liver and lungs and underwent hip surgeries that rendered her mobility impaired. As a result, Ms. Smith suffered from depression and anxiety. Ms. Smith received Social Security Disability ("SSD").
- On or about October 2, 1999, Ms. Smith filed a timely verified housing discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), pursuant to § 810 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610. The administrative complaint alleges, inter alia, that Ms. Smith suffered from metastatic breast cancer and permanent injuries to her hips and was homebound. The complaint further alleges, inter alia, that the defendants refused to make a reasonable accommodation to allow Ms. Smith to keep an emotional support animal. Rather, defendants served Ms. Smith with eviction notices.
- Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD ("the Secretary"), 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), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that the discriminatory housing practices alleged by Ms. Smith had occurred.
- On or about April 8, 2002, the Secretary issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging the defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
- On May 7, 2002, defendants elected to have the charge resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
- Following this election, the Secretary, through HUD's General Counsel, authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of the estate of Hillary Smith, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612 (o)(1).
- HUD's investigation revealed that possession of an emotional support animal was necessary for Ms. Smith, providing therapeutic benefits. By letters dated July 23, 1999 and August 12, 1999, Ms. Smith advised defendants of her disability and her need for an emotional support animal, requesting accommodation of this request. Ms. Smith provided medical support for the request and further advised defendants that the animal was a four pound, fully trained Chihuahua. Defendants refused to grant the accommodation, citing a "no pets" policy contained in the lease. Defendants served Ms. Smith with a "Notice to Cure" premised on Ms. Smith's possession of the dog, and with a "Notice to Terminate" dated August 16, 1999 and September 2, 1999, respectively.
- Defendants, through the actions described above have refused to make a reasonable accommodation in their rules, policies, practices or services, when such an accommodation was necessary to afford Ms. Smith equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f).
- As a result of defendants' conduct as described above, Ms. Smith suffered damages.
- Defendants' discriminatory actions were intentional, willful and taken in disregard of the Ms. Smith's rights.
WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays that this Court enter an ORDER that:
- Declares that defendants' discriminatory housing practices, as set forth above, violates the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619.
- Enjoins defendants, their agents, employees, successors and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them from violating the Fair Housing Act in any way, including: a) discriminating on the basis of disability against any person in any aspect of the occupancy or sale of a dwelling; b) failing to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities as required by the Federal Fair Housing Act; and c) maintaining a blanket prohibition against pets which discriminates against persons with disabilities.
- Awards such damages as will fully compensate the estate of Ms. Smith for injuries caused by defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1); and
- Awards punitive damages to the estate of Ms. Smith pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1).
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
June 3, 2002
United States Attorney
MARLA TEPPER (MT 7529)
Assistant U.S. Attorney
Civil Rights Litigation
One Pierrepont Plaza, 16th Fl.
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Document Filed: June 5, 2002 > >