FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Civil Action No. 01-478-CB-M
RALPH R. JOHNSON; and DAWN
DANEAN LOFTON, et al.
Civil Action No. 01-182-CB-M
EASTLANE CORP., et al.,
___________________________CONSENT ORDER TO SETTLE LAWSUITS
The United States filed a complaint initiating this action on June 27, 2001. Plaintiffs Danean Lofton, Rodney Lofton, and Deanna Watkins filed complaints initiating their actions on January 24, 2001. All of these actions are brought pursuant to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. ("the Act"). The United States' complaint alleges that the Defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of housing discrimination against persons on the basis of race, color and familial status. 42 U.S.C. § 3604. The private Plaintiffs also assert claims under the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1982, the Alabama Fair Housing Law, Ala. Code § 24-8-1 et seq., as well as claims for civil conspiracy and negligent training and supervision. In addition, the Lofton Plaintiffs assert a claim for conversion. The private Plaintiffs sought relief on their own behalf, while the United States sought relief on behalf of itself and all aggrieved individuals within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act.
Defendants maintain that they have complied with all laws and deny the allegations set forth in the complaints filed by the United States and the private Plaintiffs in this action.
All of the parties desire to avoid the time, uncertainties and expense of protracted litigation, and have voluntarily agreed, as indicated by the signatures below, to resolve by compromise settlement the United States' and the private Plaintiffs' claims against the Defendants and their employees and agents arising prior to the date of entry of this Order without the necessity of an evidentiary hearing. Therefore, the parties hereto waive any trial or other evidentiary hearing concerning this matter and agree to have this document entered as an order of the Court upon the Court's review and approval of same. After reviewing the terms of this Consent Order, the Court concludes that the entry of this Consent Order comports with the Fair Housing Act, federal law, and state law and is appropriate under all the circumstances.
Therefore, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED as follows:
- Factual Background
- Defendant Ralph R. Johnson owns and manages the Carriage Inn Apartments, which are located at 276 South Sage Avenue, Mobile, Alabama 36606. The Carriage Inn Apartments have approximately fifty-two units.
- From approximately June 1996 through early 2000, Defendant Dawn Stockton served as the on-site manager of the Carriage Inn Apartments.
- The United States alleges that, since at least 1992, Defendant Johnson has had a policy and practice of denying apartments to black persons and families with young children. The United States further alleges that Defendant Johnson instructed the on-site managers of the Apartments not to allow black persons or young children to live there and that the managers - including Defendant Stockton - carried out these instructions by representing to black persons and to families with young children that no apartments were available when apartments were in fact available and refusing to rent apartments to black applicants and families with young children. Private plaintiffs further assert allegations of negligent training and supervision by Defendants, as well as claims for civil conspiracy and conversion.
- The United States also alleges that Defendant Stockton implemented the discriminatory policies of Defendant Johnson by refusing to rent apartments to black persons and families with young children and falsely denying to black persons that apartments were available while telling white persons of available apartments and allowing them the opportunity to rent units at the Carriage Inn Apartments.
- The Defendants deny all such claims and allegations.
- Scope and Duration of Order
- Unless specifically provided otherwise, the provisions of this Consent Order shall apply to all the Defendants, their employees, agents, heirs, successors, assigns, anyone acting under their direction, and all those acting in concert or participation with any of them.
- Defendant Stockton is not currently involved in the ownership or management of residential rental properties. If she resumes such involvement at any time during the term of this Consent Order, she must notify the United States within thirty days of doing so and must comply with all provisions of the Consent Order related to Defendants who are currently involved in the ownership or management of residential rental properties.
- Unless specifically provided otherwise, the provisions of this Consent Order shall apply to all residential rental properties in which the Defendants have, or acquire, an ownership or management interest, whether individually or jointly with others. These properties include, but are not limited to, the Carriage Inn Apartments, which are located at 276 South Sage Avenue, Mobile, Alabama 36606, the Chateau Apartments, which are located at 3400 Dantzler Avenue, Moss Point, Mississippi 39563, and the Country Club Apartments, which are located at 1404 Belair Street, Pascagoula, Mississippi 39567 (collectively, the "Apartments").
- The provisions of this Consent Order are effective immediately upon the approval of the Order by the Court; but the parties hereto shall be bound by the terms hereof while pending such an Order, and no modifications shall be made hereto pending such Order without the written consent of all parties or their counsel. The Order shall be effective for a period of four years following the Court's approval of this Order. At the end of this period, Defendants may apply to the Court for dismissal of this case, which the Court will grant absent an objection from the United States. The United States will have thirty days from its receipt of Defendants' application for dismissal to file an objection with the Court. The Court will deny the application for dismissal if it finds a lack of substantial compliance with the Order's terms, or if it otherwise finds that the interests of justice require an extension of the Order for a specified period of time.
- The Court shall retain jurisdiction over this case for the duration of this Order in order to enforce its terms. Upon any failure of any Defendant, whether willful or otherwise, to perform in a timely manner any act required by this Order, or in the event of any other act by any Defendant violating any provision of this Order, the United States or private Plaintiffs' counsel may move the Court to impose a remedy authorized by law or equity, including, but not limited to, an Order requiring performance or non-performance of an act, deeming an act to have been performed, authorizing an extension of the duration of this Order, or awarding damages, costs and/or attorney's fees that may have been incurred as a result of Defendants' non-action or actions. Notwithstanding the foregoing, however, the parties shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of, and compliance with, this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution.
- Nondiscriminatory Rental Policies and Procedures
- All Defendants, their agents, employees, heirs, successors, and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them, are permanently enjoined, with respect to the rental of dwellings (1) at the Apartments and at any other locations at which either of the Defendants engages in the rental of dwellings, from:
- Refusing to rent a dwelling, refusing to negotiate for the rental of a dwelling, refusing or failing to provide or offer information about a dwelling, or otherwise making unavailable or denying a dwelling to any person because of race, color, or familial status;
- Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color, or familial status;
- Making, printing, publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement with respect to the rental of a dwelling that states any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, or familial status, or an intention to make such a preference, limitation, or discrimination;
- Representing to any person because of race or color or familial status that any dwelling is not available for inspection or rental when such dwelling is in fact so available; and
- Engaging in any other discriminatory housing practice prohibited by 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
- Within fifteen (15) days of the date of entry of this Consent Order, or by such date as the parties agree to be mutually satisfactory in light of the availability of the management organization referred to in this paragraph, Defendants shall retain, at their expense, an independent organization or agency, approved by the United States, to supervise and manage all employees, agents, partners, or any other person who provides services in any capacity with regard to the rental of dwellings at the Carriage Inn Apartments, regarding their obligations under this Consent Order and under the Fair Housing Act, as amended. The supervision and management required by this paragraph shall be carried out for the first twelve months after the date when this Order is entered and shall be conducted on the premises of the Carriage Inn Apartments on a daily basis for the duration of that period. If, after consultation with Defendants, the United States determines that two or more tests conducted pursuant to Paragraphs 29 and 30 indicate possible discrimination at the Carriage Inn Apartments during the first twelve months of this Order, the supervision and management required by this paragraph shall be carried out for an additional twelve months, such that the total duration would amount to two years. In the event that the United States and the Defendants after consultation cannot agree as to whether possible discriminatory conduct has occurred, then such dispute shall be brought to the Court to render a decision as to whether the independent management shall continue for an additional twelve (12) month period. The organization or agency shall have authority to hire any new employee, agent, or contractor who provides services with regard to the rental of dwellings at the Carriage Inn Apartments.
- Within thirty days after the date of entry of this Order, Defendant Johnson, his employees, agents, heirs, successors, and assigns, shall adopt objective, non-discriminatory standards and procedures for the processing of applications, the establishment of waiting lists, the approval of applicants for the rental of available dwelling units and/or positions on waiting lists, and tenant rules at each of their rental properties. These standards and procedures shall be applied to all applicants, prospective applicants, and tenants without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, or familial status. A copy of these standards and procedures shall be provided to counsel for the United States within thirty days after the date of entry of this Order. These standards and procedures shall be implemented within fifteen days after their receipt by the United States unless the United States objects to the proposed standards and procedures in writing within those fifteen days. In that event, the standards and procedures shall not be implemented until the parties have resolved their dispute or, in the event they are unable to resolve it, the Court has resolved it. Upon their implementation, Defendant Johnson and all his rental employees and agents shall adhere to these written policies and procedures.
- A summary of the rental standards and procedures shall be posted in the rental office at each apartment complex and in any office where there is regular rental activity and/or regular personal contact with applicants for, or tenants of, rental units. A copy of the summary of these standards and procedures shall be provided upon request to current tenants and to any applicant for a rental unit at the Apartments. This summary shall include the telephone number of Ralph R. Johnson's main office and HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in the event an individual has a complaint. For the duration of this Order, the approved rental standards and procedures may be modified only upon thirty days prior written notice to counsel for the United States. In the event that the United States objects to the proposed change in writing within twenty days of receipt of notice, the change shall not be implemented until the parties have resolved their dispute or, in the event they are unable to resolve it, the Court has resolved it. If the United States does not object to the change within twenty days of receipt of notice, the change may be implemented.
- Defendant Johnson, his employees, agents, heirs, successors, and assigns, shall, with respect to dwellings rented at the Apartments:
- Maintain an accurate availability list of all dwellings known or expected to be available for rental, including for each unit the apartment number, number of bedrooms, monthly rent, and deposit requirements;
- Inform prospective applicants who inquire about renting of all available units of the type requested, and, if no unit is available, inform the prospective applicant about the availability of a waiting list;
- Permit all prospective applicants the opportunity to complete a written rental application and/or to be placed on a waiting list, which shall be maintained pursuant to subparagraph (d) below; and
- Defendant Johnson will submit proposed policies and procedures for a waiting list promptly to the United States. These policies and procedures shall be implemented within fifteen days after their receipt by the United States unless it objects to the proposed policies and procedures in writing within those fifteen days.
- Within fifteen days of the date of entry of this Order, Defendants shall provide notice to all applicant referral services and all of Defendant Johnson's employees, agents, successors, and assigns with responsibility relating to the rental of dwellings, of Johnson's policy not to discriminate, which is set forth as Attachment A, and shall secure, in the form of Attachment B, such agents' signatures acknowledging their receipt of said notice and agreeing not to discriminate.
- Mandatory Education and Training
- Within sixty days of the date of entry of this Order, all Defendants who are involved in the ownership or management of residential rental properties, as well as their managers, rental agents and employees and maintenance employees, and all other persons with any responsibility with respect to the rental of apartments, shall attend a program of educational training concerning their responsibilities under federal, state, and local fair housing laws, regulations, or ordinances. The program shall be conducted by the Mobile Fair Housing Center, Inc., with all expenses to be borne by the Defendants. All persons attending this program shall sign the statement appearing at Attachment B indicating that they have attended the program and shall have their attendance certified in writing by the person conducting the educational program.
- Within thirty days after the date of entry of this Consent Order, the Defendants shall furnish to their employees and agents with housing rental responsibilities a copy of this Consent Order, so that they shall be apprised of their duties and responsibilities under this Order and shall acknowledge having been so furnished with and apprised of this Order by signing the statement appearing as Attachment B.
- For the duration of this Order, each new employee or agent of the Defendants with housing rental responsibilities at any of the Defendants' complexes shall be given a copy of, and required to read, this Consent Order and sign the statement appearing at Attachment B within ten days after the date they commence an employment or agency relationship with any of the Defendants. Each new employee of the Defendants with rental responsibilities shall attend, within a reasonable period of time after becoming an employee or agent of Defendants, a fair housing educational training program provided by the Mobile Fair Housing Center, Inc., with all costs to be borne by the Defendants.
- Notification to Public of Nondiscriminatory Policies
- Within ten days after the date of entry of this Consent Order, the Defendants shall take the following steps to notify the public of their nondiscriminatory policies:
- Post and prominently display in the rental office at each of Defendants' complexes, and in any office where there is regular rental activity and/or regular personal contact with applicants for units in Defendants' complexes, a Fair Housing Poster which includes the telephone number of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development;
- Include the words "Equal Housing Opportunity" or the fair housing logo in all advertising conducted by Defendants for any of Defendants' complexes in newspapers, telephone directories, or other media, and on all banners, signs, pamphlets, brochures and other promotional literature. The words or logo should be prominently placed and easily legible. In addition, all advertising placed by Defendants subsequent to the date of entry of this Order shall conform to the provisions of the applicable HUD advertising guidelines, formerly codified at 24 C.F.R. Part 109; and
- Include the following phrase in the standard rental application and any lease used for each of Defendants' complexes in bold print equal in size to the text of the document:
We are an equal housing opportunity provider. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, handicap or familial status (having children under age eighteen).
- Defendant Johnson, his employees, agents, heirs, successors, and assigns, shall also take the following steps to notify the public of his non-discriminatory policies at the Carriage Inn Apartments during the term of this Order:
- At least once a month during the first eighteen months of this Order, and at least once every six months for the next eighteen months of this Order, Defendant Johnson and his agents shall publish a display advertisement of at least one-sixteenth of a page in the Mobile Press-Register informing the public about the Apartments.
- Defendant Johnson shall at least once every other week advertise dwelling unit(s) at the Carriage Inn Apartments in the rental advertisement sections of the Mobile Press-Register. These advertisements must meet the specifications of Paragraph 20(b) above.
- During the first twelve months of this Order, Defendant Johnson (or his designee) shall notify the Mobile Fair Housing Center, Inc., on the first Monday of each such month, of any actual, upcoming, or expected vacancies at the Carriage Inn Apartments, so that it may refer interested persons.
- Record Keeping and Monitoring
- With respect to the rental of dwellings at each of the Apartments, Defendant Johnson, his employees, agents, heirs, successors, and assigns, shall, for the duration of this Order:
- Maintain an availability list which includes the address or unit number of each dwelling known to be available for rental, the number of bedrooms in each such unit, the monthly rent for each such unit, the required deposit amount to move into the unit, the date Defendant Johnson was first informed it would be available for rental, and the first date it would be available for rental or occupancy by a new tenant;
- Maintain an inquiry log of all persons making inquiries in person about the availability of dwellings. The log shall reflect, for each inquiry, the name, current address, telephone number, race, familial status, whether an application was offered to the prospect, date of application (if appropriate), a list of the unit(s) shown (if appropriate), whether accepted for tenancy, lease date (if appropriate), whether placed on a waiting list, and the reason and date of rejection (if appropriate). The parties agree that Defendants will satisfy this requirement by routinely utilizing the form attached hereto as Attachment C. Defendants shall request that all persons making inquiries in person at the rental office provide the information contained on the inquiry log. If any inquirer requests explanation of the necessity for providing this information, Defendants and their agents shall advise that the information is being collected to demonstrate that the properties are following equal housing opportunity requirements under federal law. If the inquirer fails to provide the information requested, Defendants and their agents shall, where possible, note the race of the inquirer on the basis of visual observation. If Defendants and their agents are unable, in good faith, to obtain the information requested, then they shall record the date of inquiry and place an asterisk (*) in the inquiry log to so indicate.
- Maintain all rental applications, and indicate on them whether the applicant was approved or disapproved for tenancy and the reason for any rejection. The applications shall also list all credit history information that Defendant Johnson or his agent(s) obtained regarding the applicant; and
- Maintain all waiting lists prepared pursuant to Paragraph 15d above.
- Thirty days after the date of entry of this Order, Defendant Johnson, his employees, agents, heirs, successors, and assigns, shall deliver to counsel for the United States a report containing the following information:
- Written verification that Defendant Johnson and any other person required to do so by the terms of this Order have attended the education program mandated by Paragraph 17 of this Order;
- A photograph of Defendants' office(s) in which rental activity is conducted, showing the fair housing signs required by Paragraph 20 of this Order;
- Copies of all signed statements secured pursuant to Paragraphs 18 and 19 of this Order;
- A listing, by unit number, of the name(s), race and familial status (2) of the current occupants of each apartment at the covered apartments as of the date when this Consent Order was entered;
- Six months after the date of entry of this Order, and every six months thereafter for a total period of four years, Defendant Johnson, his employees, agents, heirs, successors, and assigns, shall deliver to counsel for the United States a report covering the preceding months containing the following information:
- Copies of all signed statements secured pursuant to Paragraphs 18 and 19 of this Order;
- Copies of the availability lists, inquiry logs, rental applications, and waiting lists maintained pursuant to this Order;
- A listing, by unit number, of the name(s), race and familial status of the current occupants of each apartment at the covered apartments, and of the move-ins and move-outs during the reporting period. Defendant Johnson and his agents shall compile this information based upon the inquiry logs and the observation and good faith belief of the resident manager(s) and/or other employee(s) with responsibility for rental or showing of dwelling units at these apartments with the best opportunity to make such observations; and
- Representative copies of any advertisements published in a newspaper or any other medium during the reporting period, together with a complete listing of the dates each advertisement was published.
- Until final dismissal of this action, the Defendants, their employees, agents, heirs, successors, and assigns, shall preserve all records which are the source of, contain, or relate to any of the information pertinent to their obligations under this Order, including all rental applications, availability lists, inquiry logs, waiting lists, and leases for dwellings at all of Defendants' complexes. Upon reasonable notice to counsel for Defendants, representatives of the United States shall be permitted to inspect and copy all such records of the Defendants at any and all reasonable times.
- During the term of this Order, the Defendants shall advise counsel for the United States in writing within fifteen days of receipt of any complaint against the Defendants, or against any of their employees or agents, regarding equal opportunity in housing. If the complaint is oral, the Defendants shall provide a written summary of it in the report and shall include in the report the complainant's name, address and telephone number (if it can be obtained), which shall be documented in a log kept by Defendants and their employees and agents to address such oral complaints. Defendants shall also promptly provide the United States all information it may request concerning any such complaint and its actual or attempted resolution.
- During the term of this Order, the Defendants shall notify counsel for the United States of any new ownership or management interest that any of the Defendants have acquired or developed, or intend to acquire or develop, in any residential rental property. Such notification shall include the name of the property in which any of the Defendants have acquired or developed such an interest, the address of such property, and the dates of operation of such property.
- During the term of this Order, the Defendants shall notify counsel for the United States in their bi-annual reports to the United States if, during the preceding six-month period, the Defendants have ceased operating, or intend to cease operating, the Apartments or any other residential rental property in which they have an ownership or management interest. Within ten days following receipt of any written request to provide pertinent records or documents to the United States relating to the rental of any dwellings, the Defendants shall provide to the United States copies of the requested records or documents.
- Compliance Testing
- The United States may take steps to monitor the Defendants' compliance with this Order including, but not limited to, conducting fair housing tests at any properties owned or managed in whole or in part by any of the Defendants to determine whether the Defendants are violating any part of this Order.
- The Defendants shall enter into a contract with an independent testing organization, approved by the United States, for a program of compliance testing designed both to monitor compliance with this Order and to deter and detect future acts of unlawful discrimination at the Apartments. The Defendants shall impose as a condition of this contract that the testing shall occur no less than eight times per year for the duration of this Order and that the testing organization shall provide copies of the test results to counsel for the United States within fourteen days of the conclusion of any series of tests. Defendants shall pay for the costs of this testing. The United States may use the test results for any lawful purpose, including the initiation of further judicial proceedings, but only after compliance with the consultation provisions of Paragraph 10.
- In the event that the United States intends to take enforcement action based on the results of any fair housing test(s) undertaken pursuant to Paragraphs 29 and 30, the testing entity, thirty days prior to the initiation of such action, shall disclose to the Defendants the results of such test(s) as well as the results of prior tests conducted pursuant to Paragraph 29 and 30. Defendants may in turn review the test results with their relevant agents, employees, or representatives and determine what action, if any, to take in response to any evidence of alleged unlawful discrimination indicated by the test results. The United States, the testing entity, and/or Defendants may also use the test results for any lawful purpose, including the prosecution or defense of claims that the terms of the Order have been violated, but only after compliance with the consultation provisions of Paragraph 10. All original test records shall be maintained by the party by whom the testing is conducted for a period of not less than three years following the end of the Order.
- Compensation of Aggrieved Persons
- Within five business days following the date of entry of this Consent Order, the Defendants shall pay to Plaintiff Deanna Watkins and her counsel the total lump sum of $85,000.00 (eighty-five thousand dollars and no cents). This sum shall resolve all claims of Plaintiff Watkins and her counsel, for damages, costs and attorney fees, including all future costs and fees incurred for monitoring of the Order, except as otherwise provided herein. This amount shall be paid by certified check or by trust account check, made payable to Cecily K. Rothrock. Upon receipt of said funds, Plaintiff Watkins shall execute a release agreement in form similar to that attached as Attachment D, and same shall be delivered to counsel for Defendants.
- Within five business days following the date of entry of this Consent Order, the Defendants shall pay to Plaintiffs Danean Lofton and Rodney Lofton and their counsel the total lump sum of $50,000.00 (fifty thousand dollars and no cents). This sum shall resolve all claims of the Lofton Plaintiffs and their counsel, for damages, costs and attorney fees, including all future costs and fees incurred for monitoring of the Order, except as otherwise provided herein. This amount shall be paid by certified check or by trust account check, made payable to Glover & Miller, L.L.C. Upon receipt of said funds, Plaintiff Danean Lofton and the proper legal guardian (and if none a guardian ad litem) of Plaintiff Rodney Lofton shall each execute a release agreement in form similar to that attached as Attachment D, and same shall be delivered to counsel for Defendants.
- Within twenty-one days after the date of entry of this Order, Defendants shall forward to counsel for the United States the sum of $205,000.00 (two hundred and five thousand dollars and no cents) in the form of a cashier's check made payable to the United States Department of Justice for the purpose of compensating the aggrieved persons identified by the United States as having been victims of Defendants' allegedly discriminatory practices. This is not a payment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C).
- Within 120 days of the entry of this Consent Order, the United States shall make a determination of damages for each aggrieved person whom it has identified and distribute compensation to those aggrieved persons. However, no person shall be paid any amount pursuant to this Section until execution of a written release extinguishing all claims, legal or equitable, which he or she might have against Defendants, their heirs, executors, successors or assigns, or the employees of the Apartments or of Johnson, relating to the claims asserted in this lawsuit, so long as such claims accrued prior to the date of this release. The Release to be used is attached as Attachment D. Counsel for the United States shall send the original Releases to the law firm of Johnstone Adams.
- The United States shall be solely responsible for determining which persons are aggrieved persons and the amounts to which each such person is entitled. As part of the process of identifying persons entitled to compensation, the United States may request, and the Defendants shall promptly provide, any reasonable, relevant factual information the Defendants or their agents may have in their possession or control relating to an individual's claim.
- Within twenty-one days of the date of entry of this Order, Defendant Johnson shall pay $20,000.00 (twenty thousand dollars and no cents) to the Mobile Fair Housing Center, Inc., to promote fair housing in the Mobile, Alabama area. Upon receipt of said funds, an agent for the Mobile Fair Housing Center, Inc., shall execute a release agreement in form similar to that attached as Attachment D, and same shall be delivered to counsel for Defendants. This is not a payment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C).
- This Order shall not prohibit any Defendant, or his/its heirs, administrators, successors or assigns, from selling or otherwise transferring any rental property which is the subject of this Order, or assigning its management interest therein, during the term of this Order. However, if any sale or transfer is to a "Related Party" (as defined hereinbelow), or if any Related Party, following such transfer, continues to hold an ownership or management interest in such property (i.e. less than a 100% interest is transferred), then this Order shall continue to apply for the duration of the term of this Order as to such rental property sold or transferred and to such acquiring Related Party and any Related Party retaining an ownership or management interest in such property. If a sale or transfer of rental property which is the subject of this Order, or an assignment of a management interest therein, is made to any person, firm or entity that is not a Related Party, and no Related Party, following such transfer, shall continue to hold any ownership or management interest therein, then this Order shall cease to apply as to such property unless a Related Party subsequently acquires an ownership or management interest in such property during the term of this Order; provided, however, that the transferor of such property shall, within 30 days following the transfer, provide to the United States a sworn written certification identifying the interest conveyed or transferred, the property transferred, and stating that no Related Party continues to hold an ownership or management interest in such property. For purposes of this Section, the term "Related Party" shall mean: (1) any person, firm or entity that is a Defendant; (2) any family member of any individual Defendant; and (3) any entity in which any individual Defendant or family member thereof shall have, directly or indirectly, ownership, direction or control over such entity's management, policies or operations.
- If Defendants or their heirs, administrators, successors or assigns, sell or otherwise transfer any rental property which is the subject of this Order during the first twelve months of this Order, to any person or entity that is not a Related party, Defendants shall include as a condition of such sale or transfer that the new owner must (i) continue to post and maintain the fair housing signs discussed in Paragraph 20(a) of this Order during the first twelve (12) months of this Order; and (ii) continue to adhere to the requirements to pay for advertisements in the Mobile Press-Register discussed in Paragraph 20 and 21 during the first twelve (12) months of this Order.
- In the event that any of the Defendants or their agents or employees engage in any future violation(s) of the Fair Housing Act during the term of this Order, this Court shall be permitted to assess a civil penalty against that Defendant pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C)(ii).
- Any time limits for performance imposed by this Consent Order may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties.
- The United States and Defendants intend for this Order to settle all claims under 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a), arising prior to April 8, 2002, against Defendants and their employees and agents relating to the allegations in the United States' June 27, 2001 complaint, in which the United States alleged that Defendants and their agents engaged in a pattern or practice of housing discrimination based on race, color, and familial status.
- This Order shall not be utilized as evidence in any other legal or administrative cases or proceedings, except as provided by court order.
- Documents provided pursuant to Paragraphs 23-28 shall be disclosed only as necessary for purposes of compliance with this Order, as provided by court order, or as required by the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552.
- Each party to these consolidated actions shall, except to the extent specifically provided to the contrary, bear its own costs.
DONE this ____________________ day of _______________________ 2002.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
|For the United States:|
DAVID P. YORK
United States Attorney
RALPH F. BOYD
Assistant Attorney General
PATRICIA N. BEYER (BEYEP0254)
U.S. Attorney's Office for
the Southern District of Alabama
63 South Royal Street
Mobile, AL 36602
(251 441-5051 (fax)
JOAN A. MAGAGNA
ISABELLE M. THABAULT
ELLEN M. BOWDEN
REBECCA B. BOND
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
For Plaintiff Deanna Watkins:
CECILY K. ROTHROCK (ROTHC5953)
150 Government Street
Mobile, AL 36602
(251) 438-1383 (fax)
For Plaintiff Danean Lofton and Rodney Lofton:
LYNN C. MILLER (MILLL4689)
Glover & Miller, L.L.C.
502 Dauphin Island Parkway
Mobile, AL 36606
For the Defendants:
I. DAVID CHERNIAK (CHERNI8107)
CELIA J. COLLINS (COLLC1368)
Johnstone, Adams, Bailey, Gordon, & Harris
P.O. Box 1988
Mobile, AL 36633
(251) 432-2800 (fax)
DAVID HAMBRY, JR. (HAMBD6285)
JENE W. OWENS (OWENJ4625)
P.O. Box 1347
Mobile, AL 36633-1347
(251) 344-6629 (fax)
ATTACHMENT A ANTI-DISCRIMINATION NOTICE
Ralph R. Johnson has settled a lawsuit which alleged that certain employees were discriminating against African Americans and families with children who sought to rent apartments at Carriage Inn Apartments, Chateau Apartments, and Country Club Apartments. A copy of the Consent Order is available for your review in the leasing offices at any of those properties.
It is and has been Ralph R. Johnson's firm policy to make units in all properties owned and managed by him available for rental on an equal basis and not to discriminate against any person because of that person's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap or familial status (having children under the age of eighteen years). Any employee or agent who violates this policy of non-discrimination will be subject to dismissal or other disciplinary action.
ATTACHMENT B EMPLOYEE AND AGENT FAIR HOUSING ACKNOWLEDGMENT FORM
On __________________, I, being an employee or agent of Ralph R. Johnson with housing rental responsibilities, was instructed by ______________________ with respect to my responsibilities under Ralph R. Johnson's rental policies and procedures and the Consent Order entered by the federal district court in United States v. Ralph R. Johnson, et al., Case No. 01-478-CB-M (S.D. Ala.). I have received and read a copy of Ralph R. Johnson's Anti-Discrimination Notice, which makes it clear that Johnson adheres to a policy of equal housing opportunity. I have also received and read a copy of the Consent Order in United States v. Ralph R. Johnson, et al. I understand my legal responsibilities under that Order and those policies and procedures, and I will fully comply with those responsibilities and with the fair housing laws. I will not discriminate against any person in any aspect of the rental of apartment units on the basis of that person's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap, or familial status (having children under the age of eighteen years). I understand that if I do so discriminate, I will be subject to dismissal or other disciplinary action. I further understand that the Court may impose sanctions on me if I violate a provision of this Order. I have also been informed by my employer that it will not reprimand me for providing information to any law enforcement agency, including the Department of Justice, or official regarding my employer's compliance with the Fair Housing Act and/or the Consent Order.
In addition, on _______________________, I attended an educational training program concerning my responsibilities under federal and state and/or local fair housing laws, regulations or ordinances. This program was given by the Mobile Fair Housing Center, Inc.
ATTACHMENT D FULL AND FINAL RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS
In consideration for the parties' agreement to the terms of the Consent Order entered in the consolidated cases of United States v. Ralph R. Johnson et al., Civil Action Number CV-01-478-CB-M, and Danean Lofton et al. v. Eastlane Corp. et al., Civil Action Number CV-01-182-CB-M (collectively, the "lawsuits"), and in consideration of the Defendants' payment to me of $_________________________, the receipt and sufficiency of such consideration being hereby acknowledged, I, ____________________________________, on behalf of myself and my respective agents, heirs, executors, administrators, successors, and assigns, do FULLY, FINALLY, AND FOREVER RELEASE AND DISCHARGE Ralph R. Johnson, Dawn Stockton, Eastlane Corp., Arjay Corp., Eastlawn Corp., and all other Defendants set forth in the related lawsuits (hereinafter collectively the "Defendants"), along with their respective insureds, attorneys, related companies, principals, predecessors, successors, assigns, affiliates, partners, directors, officers, agents, employers, shareholders, subsidiaries, employees, former employees, heirs, executors, spouses, administrators, and any other persons or entities acting under their respective direction or control (collectively, including the Defendants, hereinafter referred to as the "Releasees"), from any and all grievances, suits, causes of action, liability, damages and claims brought in connection with the above lawsuits, including but not limited to, claims for damages (both compensatory and punitive), costs, fines, penalties and attorneys' fees. IT IS EXPRESSLY AGREED AND UNDERSTOOD THAT THIS RELEASE IS A GENERAL RELEASE.
This Release specifically includes all claims arising under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.; the Civil Rights Act of 1866 as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1982; the Alabama Fair Housing Law, Alabama Code §§ 24-8-1, et seq.; claims for negligent training and supervision, civil conspiracy, and conversion, and any other charge, claim or complaint under statute, tort or contract against the Defendants arising in any way by virtue of any claims of discrimination or otherwise as asserted in the lawsuits.
I affirm that the only consideration for signing this Full and Final Release of Claims is the terms stated in the Consent Order signed by the parties. I have accepted the terms of this Release and the Consent Order because I believe it to be a fair and reasonable settlement. The Release and the Consent Order contain and constitute the understanding and agreement between the parties respecting the subject matter contained therein and supersede and cancel all previous negotiations, agreements, commitments and writing in connection with the lawsuits.
BY SIGNING THIS RELEASE AND ACCEPTING THE PAYMENT PROVIDED HEREIN, I UNDERSTAND THAT I AM FOREVER RELEASING AND GIVING UP ANY AND ALL CLAIMS THAT I MAY HAVE AGAINST RELEASEES WHICH ARE BASED ON ACTIONS, FACTS, OCCURRENCES, OR FAILURES TO ACT PRIOR TO THE TIME OF THE DATE OF THIS RELEASE, ARISING OUT OF FACTS ALLEGED IN THE LAWSUITS. I FURTHER STATE THAT I HAVE CAREFULLY READ THE FOREGOING RELEASE, UNDERSTAND THE CONTENTS THEREOF, FREELY AND VOLUNTARILY ASSENT TO ALL OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS THEREOF, AND I HAVE HAD OPPORTUNITY TO CONSULT WITH COUNSEL OF MY OWN, AND I SIGN MY NAME AS MY OWN FREE ACT.
I acknowledge and understand that, by signing this Release and accepting this payment, I am waiving any right to proceed with my own legal action based on discrimination alleged by me or the United States in this case.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed this _____ day of _______________, 2002.
1. For the purposes of this Order, "dwelling" shall have the same meaning as it does in the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
2. Defendants shall provide this race and familial status information based upon the good faith belief of the resident manager(s) and/or other employees or agents with responsibility for renting or showing these apartments who also have the best opportunity to make such observations.
Document Filed: April 8, 2002. > >