Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

           Plaintiff,

v.

Civil Action No.

BRUCE TANKSI; BRUCE TANKSI
CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT
COMPANY, L.L.C.; MOUNTAIN
LEDGE, L.P.; MOUNTAIN LEDGE,
L.L.C.; MICHAEL DENNIS;
HOWARD F. JACOBSON;
YATES SCOTT LANSING;
PAUL F. TOMMELL; KEYSTONE
ASSOCIATES, ARCHITECTS,
ENGINEERS AND SURVEYORS,
L.L.C.,

          Defendants.

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (Fair Housing Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619. It is brought on behalf of Gloria Lynn Minet pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), and pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).

2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o) and 3614(a).

3. Venue is proper because the claims alleged herein arose in the Northern District of New York, and concern or otherwise relate to real property located in the Northern District of New York.

4. McGregor Village Apartments ("McGregor Village") is a multifamily apartment complex located in Wilton, New York.

5. McGregor Village consists of 27 two-story buildings. None of the 27 buildings has an elevator. McGregor Village has a total of 212 units, 106 of which are located on the ground floor.

6. McGregor Village was designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 13, 1991. Each of McGregor Village's 212 units is a "dwelling" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).

7. McGregor Village's 106 ground-floor units are "covered multifamily dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(7)(B), and are subject to the design and construction requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).

8. Defendant Mountain Ledge, L.P. is a limited partnership organized under the laws of New York, and has its principal place of business in Saratoga Springs, New York.

9. Defendant Mountain Ledge, L.P. owned McGregor Village at the time of its design and construction.

10. Defendant Mountain Ledge, L.L.C. is the general partner of Mountain Ledge, L.P., is incorporated under the laws of New York, and has its principal place of business in Saratoga Springs, New York.

11. Defendant Michael Dennis is the controlling shareholder and an officer, employee, principal, or agent of Mountain Ledge, L.L.C., is a citizen of New York, and resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

12. Defendant Michael Dennis participated in the design and construction and management of McGregor Village.

13. Defendant Bruce Tanski is an officer, principal, employee, or agent of Bruce Tanski Construction and Development Company, is a citizen of New York, and resides in Clifton Park, New York.

14. Defendant Bruce Tanski provided design and construction services in connection with the design and construction of McGregor Village.

15. Defendant Bruce Tanski Construction and Development Company, L.L.C. is incorporated under the laws of New York, and has its principal place of business in Clifton Park, New York.

16. Defendant Bruce Tanski Construction and Development Company, L.L.C. provided design and construction services in connection with the design and construction of McGregor Village. 17. Defendant Howard F. Jacobson is a professional engineer and a citizen of New York who resides in Guilderland, New York.

18. Defendant Howard F. Jacobson provided architectural and engineering services in connection with the design and construction of McGregor Village.

19. Defendant Yates Scott Lansing is an engineer and a citizen of New York who resides in Malta, New York.

20. Defendant Yates Scott Lansing provided architectural and engineering services in connection with the design and construction of McGregor Village.

21. Defendant Paul F. Tommell is an engineer and a citizen of New York who resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

22. Defendant Paul F. Tommell provided engineering and architectural services in connection with the design and construction of McGregor Village.

23. Defendant Keystone Associates, Architects, Engineers, and Surveyors, L.L.C., is an architectural firm, is incorporated under the laws of New York, and has its principal place of business in Binghamton, New York.

24. Defendant Keystone Associates, Architects, Engineers, and Surveyors, L.L.C. provided engineering and architectural services in connection with the design and construction of McGregor Village.

COUNT I

25. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-24, above.

26. Gloria Lynn Minet is an individual with a disability who currently resides at the McGregor Village Apartments in Wilton, New York.

27. Gloria Lynn Minet became a resident of McGregor Village on or about August 1, 1999, and continues to reside at McGregor Village.

28. On or about February 19, 2002, Ms. Minet filed a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a), alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of handicap. In her complaint, Ms. Minet alleged that McGregor Village was neither designed nor constructed in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act, and that McGregor Village failed to make appropriate reasonable accommodations.

29. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a), (b) & (f), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint filed by Ms. Minet, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on information gathered during the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on or about April 28, 2004, the Secretary issued a 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.

30. On or about May 21, 2004, Michael Dennis and Mountain Ledge, L.P. elected to have the Charge of Discrimination resolved in a civil action filed in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).

31. On or about May 24, 2002, HUD's Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceeding on the complaint filed by Ms. Minet.

32. 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).

33. The defendants have failed to design and construct McGregor Village so that:

(a) the public use and common use portions are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;

(b) all doors within the ground-floor units are sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs; and

(c) the ground-floor units contain the following features of adaptive design: (i) an accessible route into and through the dwelling; (ii) electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls in accessible locations; (iii) reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars; and (iv) usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual using a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.

34. The defendants, through the actions referred to in the preceding paragraph, have:

(a) Discriminated in the rental, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, dwellings to renters because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1);

(b) Discriminated against persons in the terms, conditions or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with a dwelling, because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2); and

(c) Failed to design and construct dwellings in compliance with the accessibility and adaptability features mandated by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).

35. The defendants, Mountain Ledge, L.P., Mountain Ledge, L.L.C., Michael Dennis, Bruce Tanski Construction and Development Company L.L.C., and Bruce Tanski, in failing to make reasonable accommodations in their rules, policies, practices, and services, have discriminated in the rental, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, dwellings to renters because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1) and (f)(3)(B).

36. Ms. Minet is aggrieved person, as defined in

37. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Ms. Minet.

COUNT II

38. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-37, above.

39. The conduct of the defendants described in paragraphs 33, 34, and 35 constitutes:

(a) A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act,

42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619; or

(b) A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619, which denial raises an issue of general public importance.

40. In addition to Ms. Minet, there may be other victims of the defendants' discriminatory actions and practices who are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). These persons may have suffered actual injury and damages as a result of the above actions and practices.

41. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Ms. Minet and the other victims of this discrimination.

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

1. Declares that the defendants' policies and practices, as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act;

2. Enjoins the defendants, their officers, employees, agents, successors and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:

(a) Failing or refusing to bring the ground-floor units and public and common use areas at McGregor Village into compliance with 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C);

(b) Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of the defendants' unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct; and

(c) Designing or constructing covered multifamily dwellings in the future that do not contain the accessibility and adaptability features required by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C);

(d) Failing or refusing to make reasonable accommodations as required by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B).

3. Awards monetary damages, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1), and 3614(d)(1)(B), to all persons harmed by the defendants' discriminatory practices, including Ms. Minet;

4. Assesses a civil penalty against each defendant in an amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), to vindicate the public interest.

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

The United States requests a jury trial of all issues triable thereby.

Dated: June __, 2004

JOHN ASHCROFT
Attorney General

GLENN T. SUDDABY
United States Attorney

By: PAULA CONAN

_______________________
Asst. U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 7198
100 South Clinton Street
Syracuse, NY 13261
Tel.: (315) 448-0913
_______________________
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division ________________________
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and
Civil Enforcement Section _________________________
MICHAEL S. MAURER
Deputy Chief
SEAN R. KEVENEY
Trial Attorney
Housing and Civil Enforcement
Section
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of
Justice
Housing and Civil Enforcement
Section- G Street
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Tel.: (202) 514-4838

Document Filed June 21, 2004 > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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