Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents


IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

SAVANNAH PINES, LLC;
HALLIE MANAGEMENT
COMPANY; MARY SCHULTZ;
DEBBIE BUTT; and JEFF BUTT,
     Defendants.

____________________________________

COMPLAINT AND REQUEST FOR JURY TRIAL

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 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 et seq.
  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).
  3. Venue is proper in this District. Defendant Savannah Pines, LLC and defendant Hallie Management Company are Nebraska Corporations with their principal place of business in the District of Nebraska. Defendants Mary Schultz, Debbie Butt, and Jeff Butt are residents in the District of Nebraska.
  4. At all times relevant to this complaint, Defendant Savannah Pines, LLC owned Savannah Pines Retirement Community ("Savannah Pines"), a multi-family development which is located in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  5. At all times relevant to this complaint, Defendant Hallie Management Company managed the operation of Savannah Pines and leased the apartment units at Savannah Pines.
  6. At all times relevant to this complaint, Defendant Mary Schultz was the Vice President of Hallie Management Company and was actively involved in the management and the tenant selection process of Savannah Pines.
  7. At all times relevant to this complaint, Debbie Butt was a manager of Savannah Pines and was actively involved in the management and the tenant selection process of Savannah Pines.
  8. At all times relevant to this complaint, Jeff Butt was a manager of Savannah Pines and was actively involved in the management and the tenant selection process of Savannah Pines.
  9. Savannah Pines is a retirement community consisting of one building containing 123 apartment units with two elevators and extensive common use areas. The common use areas include, inter alia, dining facilities, a bank, an exercise room, a theater, a gift shop, a pharmacy, a library, a salon, a computer room, and several conference rooms. Tenants are served three meals per day in the dining facility, the cost of which is included in the rent. Savannah Pines provides no assistive living services.
  10. Tenancy at Savannah Pines is month-to-month and all tenants must sign a rental agreement.
  11. Savannah Pines is a "dwelling" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
  12. Loraine Orton is a tenant at Savannah Pines. Ms. Orton has a physical impairment which substantially limits her in the major life activity of walking and standing and as such is "handicapped" within the meaning 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h). Ms. Orton uses a motorized assistive device for mobility because of her "handicap." Ms. Orton is an aggrieved person as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
  13. Clarence Albertson is a tenant at Savannah Pines. Mr. Albertson has a physical impairment which substantially limits him in the major activity of walking and standing and as such is "handicapped" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h). Mr. Albertson uses a motorized assistive device for mobility because of his "handicap." Mr. Albertson is an aggrieved person as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
  14. Frank Helberg is a tenant at Savannah Pines. Mr. Helberg has a physical impairment which substantially limits him in the major activity of walking and standing and as such is "handicapped" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h). Mr. Helberg uses a motorized assistive device for mobility because of his "handicap." Mr. Helberg is an aggrieved person as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
  15. Larine Helberg is a tenant at Savannah Pines. Ms. Helberg has a physical impairment which substantially limits her in the major activity of walking and standing and as such is "handicapped" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h). Ms. Helberg uses a motorized assistive device for mobility because of her "handicap." Ms. Helberg is an aggrieved person as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
  16. Loraine Brockbank is a tenant at Savannah Pines. Ms. Brockbank has a physical impairment which substantially limits her in the major activity of walking and standing and as such is "handicapped" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h). Ms. Brockbank uses a motorized assistive device for mobility because of her "handicap." Ms. Brockbank is an aggrieved person as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
  17. The rental agreement used by the defendants, which is attached hereto as Exhibit "A" and incorporated herein by reference, (hereinafter referred to as the "Rental Agreement") includes a provision which requires tenants to live independently of management as a term or condition of tenancy at Savannah Pines. As interpreted and applied by the defendants, this policy was used by the defendants to unlawfully deny tenants with handicaps an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the development.
  18. Defendants required all of the aggrieved persons described in paragraphs 12-16 to sign the Rental Agreement before moving into Savannah Pines.
  19. Defendants also implemented an addendum to the Rental Agreement, which is attached hereto as Exhibit "B" and incorporated herein by reference, (hereinafter referred to as the "Addendum") that is applied only to tenants who use motorized assistive devices. The addendum requires residents to obtain personal liability insurance for the operation of motorized assistive devices, assume all risk for the use and operation of motorized assistive devices, and fully release the defendants from any and all liability arising in connection with the use and operation of a motorized assistive device.
  20. Defendants required all of the aggrieved persons described in paragraphs 12-16 to sign the Addendum.
  21. On or about August 29, 2001, defendants adopted a policy, which is attached hereto as Exhibit "C" and incorporated herein by reference, (hereinafter referred to as the "Policy") as a term or condition of tenancy at Savannah Pines. The Policy prohibits tenants from using motorized assistive devices in the common areas of Savannah Pines, requires that tenants who use motorized assistive devices to pay a $1,000 security deposit, requires such tenants to live only in first floor apartment units, and requires that such tenants obtain personal liability insurance for each motorized assistive device they own.
  22. Defendants distributed the Policy to all of the aggrieved persons described in paragraphs 12-16. Defendants also distributed the Policy to prospective tenants of Savannah Pines. Defendants did not distribute the Policy to the tenants of Savannah Pines who do not use motorized assistive devices.
  23. By adopting and enforcing the Policy, the defendants prohibited the aggrieved persons described in paragraphs 12-16 from using their motorized assistive devices in the common use areas of Savannah Pines, including, inter alia, the dining facilities. As a result, these tenants could not use the common use areas and some of them missed meals to which they were entitled as part of their monthly rental fees.
  24. Defendants threatened to evict the aggrieved persons described in paragraphs 12-16 for violating the Policy.
  25. Defendants refused to make reasonable accommodations in the Rental Agreement, the Addendum, and/or the Policy necessary to afford the aggrieved persons described in paragraphs 12-16 an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Savannah Pines.
  26. Defendants discouraged persons with "handicaps" from renting an apartment at Savannah Pines on the basis of handicap.
  27. Defendants have violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq., by discriminating against persons on the basis of handicap by implementing and enforcing the Rental Agreement, the Addendum, and the Policy.
  28. The conduct of defendants constitutes:
    1. A denial or making unavailable of housing because of handicap, in violation of Section 804(f)(1) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1);
    2. Discrimination in the terms, conditions, or privileges of the rental of dwellings, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of handicap, in violation of Section 804(f)(2) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2);
    3. A refusal to make reasonable accommodation in rules, policies, practices, or services necessary to afford persons with handicaps equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling in violation of Section 804(f)(3)(B) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B);
    4. The making of statements with respect to the rental of dwellings that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on handicap, in violation of Section 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and
    5. Coercion, intimidation, threats, and interference with persons in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of their having exercised or enjoyed their rights under Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act, in violation of Section 818 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3617.
  29. The conduct of the defendants constitutes:
    1. A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.; and
    2. A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
  30. On information and belief, there are other persons, including the aggrieved persons described above, as well as prospective tenants, who may have been injured by, and may have suffered damages as a result of, the defendants' conduct. All of these persons are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i)
  31. Defendants' above-described conduct was intentional, willful, and/or taken in disregard for the rights of others.

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

  1. Declares that the defendants' discriminatory practices violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.;
  2. Enjoins the defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them from:
    1. Discriminating on the basis of handicap against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
    2. Interfering with or threatening to take any action against any person in the exercise or enjoyment of rights granted or protected by the Fair Housing Act, as amended; and
    3. Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of the defendants' past unlawful practices to the position such victims would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct of the defendants;
  3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate each identifiable victim of defendants' discriminatory housing practices for injuries caused by the defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B);
  4. Awards punitive damages to each victim of defendants' discriminatory housing practices, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
  5. Assesses a civil penalty against the defendants in order to vindicate the public interest, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C).

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

The United States of America hereby requests that trial of the above and foregoing action should be held in Lincoln, Nebraska, and that the case be calendared accordingly.


JOHN ASHCROFT
Attorney General

MICHAEL G. HEAVINCAN
United States Attorney

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

LAURIE A. KELLY
Assistant United States Attorney
1620 Dodge Street
Suite 1400
Omaha, Nebraska 68102-1506
(402) 661-3700

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

TIMOTHY J. MORAN
Deputy Chief
SCOTT P. MOORE
Trial Attorney
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035
Tel: (202) 307-3801

Document Filed: November 29, 2001. > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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