Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EASTERN DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

Plaintiff, No.

v.

DEMETRA VLAHAKIS

Defendant.

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

1. This action is brought by the United States of America on behalf of Susan Brewster, and her daughter, Samantha Brown ("Complainants"), pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3612(o), and on behalf of other aggrieved persons pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3614(a).

2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o) and 3614(a).

3. Complainants Susan Brewster, and her daughter, Samantha Brown, reside at10007 Linda Lane, #2 South, Des Planes, Illinois 60016.

4. Defendant Demetra Vlahakis owns and manages a five-unit apartment building, which is located at 8514 West Rascher, in Chicago, Illinois. Vlahakis' apartment building is a dwelling within the meaning of Section 802(b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).

GENERAL ALLEGATIONS At all times relevant to the allegations contained herein, Demetra Vlahakis ("Defendant") owned and managed the subject property, a five-unit apartment building located at 8514 West Rascher, Chicago, Illinois. On or about March, 2002, Cecilia and David Levin informed Defendant that they wanted to move from the apartment they rented from Defendant prior to the expiration of their lease term because they were in the process of buying a house.

7. Defendant instructed the Levins that they were responsible for subleasing the unit that they were vacating and that any tenant moving into the subject unit should have "no children or teenagers."

8. The Levins then placed an advertisement for the subject unit in the ChicagoTribune's internet edition.

9. On or about March, 2002, Defendant refused to meet with Michael Criel, who expressed interest in the unit after viewing it, because he has two children.

10. On or around the early part of April 2002, Complainant viewed the subject unit and expressed to the Levins and Vlahakis her interest in renting it.

11. Once Defendant learned that Complainant had a sixteen year-old daughter who would be living with her, Defendant refused to rent Complainant the subject unit stating that she previously had "too many problems with teenagers" and did not feel comfortable renting to them.

12. After Complainant explained that her daughter was well behaved, went to church, and did not cause her any problems, Defendant relented yet told Complainant if she rented the unit, she and her daughter would be evicted immediately if there were any problems. Defendant then went upstairs to her unit.

13. Defendant later chastised the Levins for recommending the Brewsters and reiterated that she did not want to rent to families with children.

14. After meeting Defendant, Complainant believed that Defendant did not want her to live in the subject property and believed that even if she were to rent the subject unit, it would be extremely uncomfortable living there under fear of eviction for the slightest problem.

15. On August 19, 2002, Complainant Susan Brewster filed a complaint of discrimination (HUD Form 903) with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") alleging that Defendant discriminated against her and her daughter, Samantha Brown, on the basis of their familial status, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§3601, et seq.

16. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD ("Secretary") conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint and engaged in conciliation efforts, which were unsuccessful.

17. Thereafter, the Secretary prepared a final investigative report based upon information gathered during the investigation, and the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3610(g)(1), determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. HUD issued its Determination of Reasonable Cause on February 23, 2004.

18. HUD issued its Charge of Discrimination against the Defendant on March 10, 2004, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendant with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§3601, et seq.

19. On April 5, 2004, Complainants made a timely election to have their claims resolved in federal court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(a).

20. Subsequently, on April 7, 2004, the Secretary, through the General Counsel of HUD, authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of the Complainants, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o)(1).

COUNT I

Plaintiff, United States of America, realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 20 above.

21. Defendant Demetra Vlahakis, has discriminated against Complainants Susan Brewster and Samantha Brown by:

  1. denying, or refusing to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making a dwelling unavailable on the basis of familial status, in violation of Section 804(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604(a);
  2. discriminating in the terms, conditions or privileges of the rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, on the basis of familial status, in violation of Section 804(b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604(b); and
  3. making, printing or publishing, or causing to be made, printed or published notices or statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination, based on familial status, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination in violation of Section 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604(c).

22. As a result of the conduct or actions of the Defendant, Complainants Susan Brewster and Samantha Brown suffered damages and they are aggrieved persons within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §3602(i).

23. The discriminatory conduct or actions of the Defendant were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of the Complainants.

COUNT II

Plaintiff, United States of America, realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 23 above.

24. There are other persons who have suffered damages as a result of Defendant's conduct or actions, and they are aggrieved persons within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §3602(i).

25. Defendant Demetra Vlahakis, engaged in conduct that constitutes:

  1. A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a); or
  2. A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, which denial raises an issue of general public importance, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).

26. Specifically, Defendant Demetra Vlahakis, has discriminated against Complainants Susan Brewster and Samantha Brown and other aggrieved persons by:

  1. denying, or refusing to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making a dwelling unavailable on the basis of familial status, in violation of Section 804(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604(a);
  2. discriminating in the terms, conditions or privileges of the rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, on the basis of familial status, in violation of Section 804(b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604(b); and
  3. making, printing or publishing, or causing to be made, printed or published notices or statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination, based on familial status, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination in violation of Section 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604(c).

27. The discriminatory conduct or actions of the Defendant were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of Complainants Susan Brewster and Samantha Brown and other aggrieved persons.

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

1. Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of Defendant Demetra Vlahakis, as set forth above, violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§3601, et seq.;

2. Enjoins Defendant Demetra Vlahakis, her employees, agents, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from continuing to discriminate on the basis of familial status against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1) and 3614(d)(1)(A);

3. Awards monetary damages to the complainants and other persons for their injuries caused by the discriminatory housing practices of Defendant Demetra Vlahakis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3) , 3613(c)(1) and 3614(d)(1)(B); and

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

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

JOHN ASHCROFT
Attorney General

PATRICK J. FITZGERALD
United States Attorney
__________________________
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
__________________________
JOAN LASER
Assistant U.S. Attorney
219 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 5000
Chicago, IL 60604
Tel: (312) 353-1857
__________________________
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and Civil
Enforcement Section __________________________
TIMOTHY J. MORAN
Deputy Chief
AVERY L. JOHNSON
Trial Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil
Enforcement Section - G St.
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
Tel: (202) 514-0553
Fax: (202) 514-1116

Document Filed: May 5, 2004 > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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