IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
SAN ANTONIO DIVISION
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY
OF SAN ANTONIO, SAN ANTONIO
HOUSING FACILITY CORPORATION,
PAT MATHERLY, and THE PILGRIM
ALLEN HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
The United States, by its attorney, JOHNNY SUTTON, United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, for its Complaint states:
1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Antonio and Josefina Maldonado 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. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o). Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o) as defendants are located in this judicial district and the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in this judicial district.
3. Defendant San Antonio Housing Facility Corporation manages the Westminster Square Apartments, the subject property. Defendant San Antonio Housing Facility Corporation is located at 818 S. Flores, San Antonio, Texas. The subject property is a multi-family apartment complex of 107 units located at 1838 Basse Road, San Antonio, Texas.
4. Defendant San Antonio Housing Facility Corporation is a subsidiary of Defendant Housing Authority of the City of San Antonio. Defendant Housing Authority of the City of San Antonio is located at 818 S. Flores, San Antonio, Texas.
5. Defendant The Pilgrim Allen Housing Development Corporation owns the subject property and is located at 1838 Basse Road, San Antonio, Texas.
6. Defendant Pat Matherly is an employee/agent of the Housing Authority of the City of San Antonio and/or the San Antonio Housing Facility Corporation. Defendant Matherly is the on-site manager for the subject property.
7. Defendants are responsible for the general overall management and operation of the multiple dwellings and common areas which constitute the Westminster Square Apartments.
8. The units at the Westminster Square Apartments are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
9. Antonio and Josefina Maldonado are individuals with disabilities as defined within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h). Mr. Maldonado is a double leg amputee, a physical impairment that substantially limits his major life activity of walking. Josefina Maldonado has osteoporosis, hyperlipidemia, angina, diffuse arthritis, and diabetes, all of which are physical impairments which substantially limit her major life activity of walking.
10. Antonio and Josefina Maldonado have lived in apartment 307, a third floor unit at the subject property, since 1989. In recent years, Josefina Maldonado has been experiencing increased fatigue due to her disabilities. On or about February 23, 2004, Mrs. Maldonado requested a reasonable accommodation from Defendant Pat Matherly, stating that she and her husband needed to be transferred to an accessible first floor apartment due to her deteriorating health and their disabilities. The Maldonados provided Defendant Matherly with copies of letters from their health providers. Defendant Matherly then requested the original letters from the Maldonados' health providers.
11. On or about March 15, 2004, Josefina Maldonado provided Defendant Matherly with original supporting letters from Dr. E. Roberto Chinea, M.D., Mrs. Maldonado's doctor, and a letter from Terry Grover, P.O., Antonio Maldonado's health provider. The letters requested that each respective patient be transferred to a first floor unit due to his or her disabilities. In addition, Mrs. Maldonado submitted her own letter requesting a transfer.
12. When Mrs. Maldonado inquired as to a response to her request for reasonable accommodation, Defendant Matherly said that she would be contacting the Maldonados' health providers. Defendants then denied the Maldonados' request for reasonable accommodation because elevators were available for the Maldonados to use.
13. Through the Fair Housing Council of Greater San Antonio ("FHCGSA"), Antonio and Josefina Maldonado sent a second letter to Westminster Square Apartments on or about March 17, 2004 stating their disabilities and their need for reasonable accommodation by being transferred to a first floor unit. The March 17, 2004 letter was accompanied by copies of the previously submitted letters from the Maldonados' health providers.
14. On or about March 25, 2004, Defendants denied the Maldonados' request for reasonable accommodation in a letter from their attorney which stated that "Westminster have [sic] accommodated Mr. and Mrs. Maldonado. Westminster provides an elevator for disabled tenants at Westminster."
15. On or about March 31, 2004, Mr. and Mrs. Maldonado, through the FHCGSA, again requested in writing to be transferred to an accessible first floor unit stating that, although they were aware of the elevators, the elevators were not an appropriate accommodation in their circumstances. The letter stated that the Maldonados had been trapped in the elevators, the elevators had been inoperable on several occasions, and the elevators were not near the Maldonados' unit, which required them to travel a much farther distance to access their unit. In addition, the letter stated that the Maldonados feared for their safety in an emergency situation where the elevators may or may not be operable. The letter also stated that Mrs. Maldonado's doctor believed that Mrs. Maldonado was progressively becoming unable to maneuver Mr. Maldonado in his wheelchair, and that a first floor unit was required to avoid deterioration of her health. Defendants have not responded to the Maldonados' request, and the Maldonados still remain in their third floor apartment.
16. After the Maldonados' repeated requests for accommodation, Defendants leased two apartments on the first floor to other tenants.
17. On or about April 19, 2004, the Maldonados filed a complaint, and later an amended complaint, with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") alleging discrimination on the basis of disability.
18. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based upon the information gathered in the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause existed to believe that illegal discriminatory housing practices had occurred because of disability. As a result, a Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination were issued, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging that Defendants had engaged in discriminatory practices, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended.
19. On April 4, 2005, Defendants Housing Authority of the City of San Antonio, Pat Matherly, and The Pilgrim Allen Housing Development Corporation elected to have the claims asserted in HUD's Amended Charge of Discrimination decided in a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
20. On April 4, 2005, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceedings on the complaints filed by Antonio and Josefina Maldonado.
21. Following this Notice of Election, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
22. Defendants, through the above-referenced actions, have:
- Discriminated in the rental, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, a dwelling to the Maldonados because of disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1)(A);
- Discriminated against the Maldonados in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2)(A); and
- Refused to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford the Maldonados equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B).
23. Antonio and Josefina Maldonado are "aggrieved persons" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
24. As a result of Defendants' discriminatory conduct, Antonio and Josefina Maldonado have suffered and continue to suffer damages.
25. The discriminatory actions of the Defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the federally-protected rights of Antonio and Josefina Maldonado.
WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays for relief as follows:
1. A declaration that the discriminatory conduct of Defendants as set forth above violates the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.;
2. An injunction against Defendants, their agents, employees, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them from discriminating because of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.;
3. An order directing Defendants to provide reasonable accommodation to Antonio and Josefina Maldonado by moving them to the first available ground floor apartment of the appropriate size and to pay for all costs associated with the transfer; and
4. Awards of monetary damages to Antonio and Josefina Maldonado, 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.
Pursuant to Rule 38(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the United States demands a jury trial on all issues that are triable to a jury.
DATED: June _______, 2005 Respectfully submitted,
United States Attorney
JOSEPH C. RODRIGUEZ
Assistant United States Attorney
601 NW Loop 410, Suite 600
San Antonio, Texas 78216-5597
Ohio Bar No. 0072958
Tel. (210) 384-7305
Fax. (210) 384-7312
ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF
Elizabeth A. Singer
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Tel. (202) 514-6164
Fax. (202) 514-1116
Document Filed: June 3, 2005 > >