IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ALLEGES:
NATURE OF ACTION
1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Susan Cholvin, pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. ("the Act").
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
3. Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), in that the events or omissions giving rise to this action occurred in this judicial district.
4. Defendant Meadowlark Manor Condominium Association ("Meadowlark" or "Association") is an association that owns and governs the common areas of property known as Meadowlark Manor Condominium ("property"), located at 2106 and 2116 Colony Court, Beloit, Wisconsin, in the Western District of Wisconsin.
5. The property contains 16 condominium units (eight in each building) that are individually owned by residents who are Association members.
6. Association members propose and vote on rules and policies with respect to common areas of the property.
7. The Association performs repairs, upkeep, snow removal and similar services for all common areas of the property.
8. In or around 1993, Susan Cholvin purchased condominium Unit 11 at 2106 Colony Court, Beloit, Wisconsin, and she has resided there since that time.
9. Said condominium Unit 11 is a "dwelling" within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
10. Ms. Cholvin has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. On various occasions during all relevant times, Ms. Cholvin has used a walker or a wheelchair to aid her mobility. Ms. Cholvin's disability substantially limits her activities of daily living, including her ability to move freely about her unit and the common areas of Meadowlark.
11. Ms. Cholvin, at all relevant times, was and continues to be a person with a "handicap," as defined in the Act at 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h) and 24 C.F.R. § 100.201.
12. At all relevant times, defendant knew that Ms. Cholvin had a disability.
13. The rear entrance to the building at 2106 Colony Court, containing Ms. Cholvin's condominium unit, is a common area used by the residents of the eight units in the building, including Ms. Cholvin. At the rear entrance, there is a concrete rise at the threshold of the door that was at all relevant times difficult for Ms. Cholvin to move across using her walker or wheelchair.
14. In a letter dated on or about August 27, 2003, Ms. Diana L. DuBore, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (hereinafter "DVR"), requested permission from the defendant to install a ramp at the rear entrance of 2106 Colony Court, at the expense of the DVR, for the benefit of Ms. Cholvin.
15. In a letter dated on or about September 4, 2003, the Association advised Ms. DuBore that it was conditioning approval of installation of the ramp on Ms. Cholvin's signing an agreement with the Association stating that she would properly maintain the ramp at her or her agency's expense, and that if the ramp was not maintained in good condition, the defendant reserved the right to remove it with two weeks' notice.
16. On or about February 3, 2004, Ms. Cholvin filed a timely, verified housing discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), pursuant to section 810 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610, alleging that defendant had discriminated against her on the basis of her disability with regard to the installation of a ramp at the rear entrance to her building at 2106 Colony Court, Beloit, Wisconsin.
17. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") conducted an investigation of the complaint, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigation report. Based on the information gathered in this investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that the discriminatory housing practice alleged by Ms. Cholvin with regard to the ramp had occurred.
18. Accordingly, on or about March 22, 2004, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2(A), charging the defendant with engaging in discriminatory housing practices with regard to the ramp in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
19. It was not until on or about March 31, 2004, after HUD had issued its Charge of Discrimination, that the defendant granted the DVR authority to install the ramp and stated that the homeowner's association would assume the maintenance responsibilities concerning the ramp.
20. On April 19, 2004, Ms. Cholvin elected to have the Charge of Discrimination resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
21. Following this election, the Secretary, through HUD's Regional Counsel, authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of Susan Cholvin, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o)(1).
22. In or about May 2004, the DVR installed the ramp at the rear entrance to 2106 Colony Court.
FAIR HOUSING ACT CLAIM
23. During the period from approximately September 4, 2003 to approximately March 31, 2004 , defendant, through the actions described in this complaint, has violated 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(2)(A) and (f)(3)(A) by discriminating against Susan Cholvin in the provision of services or facilities in connection with a dwelling, because of handicap, through its refusal to permit, at the expense of Ms. Cholvin, a reasonable modification of existing premises occupied by Ms. Cholvin where such modification may have been necessary to afford Ms. Cholvin full enjoyment of the premises.
24. Susan Cholvin is an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and has suffered damages as a result of defendant's conduct as described above.
25. Defendant's discriminatory actions were intentional, willful and taken in disregard of Ms. Cholvin's rights.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays that this Court enter an ORDER that:
1. Declares that defendant's discriminatory housing practices, as set forth above, violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619.
2. Enjoins defendant, its agents, employees, successors and all other persons in active concert or participation with defendant, from violating the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq. on the basis of disability.
3. Awards monetary damages to Ms. Cholvin, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1).
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
Dated this ______ day of July, 2004.
J.B. VAN HOLLEN
United States Attorney
RICHARD D. HUMPHREY
Assistant U.S. Attorney
660 W. Washington Ave., #303
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Document Filed: July 30, 2004 > >