Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents


IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

COLTS PRIDE HOMEOWNERS
ASSOCIATION; BRYAN SChEFF;
UNITED PROPERTY MANAGEMENT,
INC.; MICHAEL POGORKELSKY
     Defendants.

____________________________________

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States on its own behalf, and on behalf of Louis Scafuri and Lyudmila Scafuri Gerasimova pursuant to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, 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. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614.
  3. Defendant Colts Pride Homeowners Association (the Association) represents the homeowners at Colts Pride, a development consisting of 250 single-family homes in Freehold, New Jersey. It is incorporated and has its principal place of business in the judicial District of New Jersey.
  4. Defendant Bryan Scheff is a resident in the judicial District of New Jersey and is the President of the Association.
  5. Defendant United Property Management, Inc. is a New Jersey corporation doing business in the judicial District of New Jersey and is the managing agent for defendant Colts Pride Homeowners Association.
  6. Defendant Michael Pogorkelsky is a resident in the judicial District of New Jersey and is employed by defendant United Property Management, Inc. as the managing agent for defendant Colts Pride Homeowners Association.
  7. Louis Scafuri (Scafuri) and Lyudmila Scafuri Gerasimova (Gerasimova) are husband and wife. In September 1998, Scafuri and Gerasimova purchased a single-family home in Colts Pride at 40 Citation Drive, Freehold, New Jersey. This residence is a dwelling within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
  8. Mr. Scafuri has pulmonary asbestosis, asbestos-related pleural disease, and chronic "irritative" bronchitis. These conditions severely restrict his ability to breathe and interfere with his mobility. Mr. Scafuri is handicapped within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
  9. During the summer of 1999, to help alleviate the symptoms of his disability, Mr. Scafuri installed a window air conditioning unit (window unit) in his home to supplement the central air conditioning unit.
  10. Defendants informed Mr. Scafuri that window units were prohibited by the Association's by-laws and his window unit must be immediately removed. The by-laws cited by defendants state that the Board of Trustees has the authority and obligation to assure that Colts Pride at Freehold will always be maintained in a manner:
    1. providing for visual harmony and soundness of repair;
    2. avoiding activities deleterious to aesthetic or property values;
    3. furthering the comfort of the Homeowners, their guests, invitees and lessees; and
    4. promoting the general welfare and safety of the community.
  11. Mr. Scafuri informed defendants that because of his disability, he needed supplemental air conditioning in his home. Mr. Scafuri requested an accommodation to the Association's rules in order to be able to breathe and walk more easily.
  12. On or about August 27, 1999, defendants denied Mr. Scafuri's request for a reasonable accommodation and on September 1, 1999, began assessing fines against Scafuri and Gerasimova's account.
  13. On or about June 16, 2000, Louis Scafuri filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) a timely complaint on behalf of himself pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). On or about September 5, 2000, his complaint was amended and his wife, Gerasimova, was added as a party. The complaint alleges that defendants have improperly refused to grant Mr. Scafuri a reasonable accommodation necessary to allow Mr. Scafuri equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
  14. As required by Section 810(a) and (b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD (hereinafter the "Secretary") has 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), has determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred. Therefore, on August 2, 2001, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging defendants with engaging in discriminatory practices in violation of Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3604.
  15. On August 21, 2001, defendants elected to have the charges resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
  16. By requesting that defendants allow him to install a window unit, Mr. Scafuri sought an accommodation that was reasonable and necessary, on account of his handicap, to afford him an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. By refusing to grant the requested accommodation, defendants have violated 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B).
  17. Scafuri and Gerasimova are aggrieved persons and have suffered damages as a result of defendants' conduct as described herein.
  18. The discriminatory actions of defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Scafuri and Gerasimova.

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:

  1. Declares that the defendants' discriminatory housing practices violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.;
  2. Enjoins defendants, their officers, agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation to Scafuri and Gerasimova and requires defendants to allow them to install a window air conditioning unit to supplement the existing central air conditioning in their home;
  3. Awards such damages as will fully compensate Scafuri and Gerasimova for all injury occasioned by defendants' denial of equal housing opportunity, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c); and
  4. Awards punitive damages because of the intentional and willful nature of defendants' conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612 (o)(3) and 3613(c).

The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.


JOHN ASHCROFT
Attorney General

CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE
United States Attorney

RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

MICHAEL A. CHAGARES
Assistant U.S. Attorney
970 Broad Street
Suite 700
Newark, N.J. 07102
201.645.2700

JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section Division

ISABELLE M. THABAULT
Deputy Chief
SUNNY PIETRAFESA
Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice

Civil Rights DivisionHousing and Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
G Street
Washington, D.C. 20006
202.616.2217

Document Filed: January 28, 2001. > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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