Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,
v.
LOUIS MILAZZO,
FRANCES MILAZZO,
and GREEN MEADOW APARTMENTS,
     Defendants.
CIVIL ACTION NO.: 01-0997
SECTION "M"
JUDGE PETER BEER
MAGISTRATE SALLY SHUSHAN


CONSENT ORDER

The United States and Defendants Louis Milazzo, Frances Milazzo and the Green Meadow Apartments (collectively, the parties) wish to avoid costly and protracted litigation; and, as indicated by the signatures appearing below, have voluntarily agreed to resolve this action by executing, filing, and moving the Court for entry of this Consent Order ("Order"). The parties hereby agree as follows:

  1. INTRODUCTION
  1. The United States filed this action on April 12, 2001, pursuant to the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619. The parties have engaged in active litigation since that time.
  2. Defendants Louis Milazzo and Frances Milazzo reside at 47116 North Morrison Boulevard in Hammond, Louisiana. They are the co-owners and co-mangers of a ten-unit apartment complex known as the Green Meadow Apartments, which is located at 14384 Highway 1064 West, Tickfaw, Louisiana.
  3. In its complaint, the United States alleged that: (a) Defendants refused to rent an apartment to Michael A. Smith, an African-American man, and other individuals on account of race, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a), (c) and (d); and (b) Defendants' conduct constituted a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights protected by the Act, see 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a). The United States specifically alleged that for twenty-six years, Defendants refused to rent units at the Green Meadow Apartments to African-Americans. Defendants' exclusionary practices included: inquiring as to the race of individuals who called seeking information about the availability of apartments; making statements indicating a preference against renting to African-Americans; giving false information to African-Americans regarding the availability of apartments; refusing to show available apartments to African-Americans; and declining to give African-Americans details about available apartments or the existence of a waiting list.
  4. The United States has evidence of Defendants' discriminatory conduct in violation of the Fair Housing Act and is prepared to prove its allegations at trial.
  5. Defendants expressly deny that they have engaged in discriminatory conduct.
  6. This Consent Order shall not be construed as an admission by Defendants of any violation of the Fair Housing Act or any other Federal or state law or regulation. Moreover, neither this Consent Order nor anything in this Consent Order shall be construed to be or shall be admissible in any proceeding as evidence of an admission by Defendants of any violation of the Fair Housing Act or any other Federal or state law or regulation. This Consent Order may be introduced, however, in any proceeding to enforce the Consent Order.

  1. JURISDICTION, SCOPE, AND TERM OF ORDER
  1. The parties have consented to the entry of this Order. Accordingly, the parties stipulate that this Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants for purposes of this action and subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614.
  2. This Order addresses all discriminatory conduct alleged in the complaint in this action that occurred at the Green Meadow Apartments up through the date on which the Court enters this document as its own Order ("date of this Order"). The provisions of this Order shall apply to Defendants, their employees, agents, contractors, anyone acting under their direction or on their behalf, and all those acting in concert or participation with any of them.
  3. This Order is effective immediately upon its entry by the Court and shall be effective and binding on Defendants for a period of three (3) years thereafter, absent an extension as set forth in this Paragraph. The Court shall retain jurisdiction of the action and over all Defendants for purposes of enforcing the provisions of this Order for a period of three (3) years. If no action is taken by the United States to extend this Order within three (3) years of the date of the Order, the Order shall terminate, and the Court's jurisdiction of this action shall cease. To extend the term of this Order, the United States must file with the Court and serve on Defendants' counsel a written request for extension, which shall be grounded upon a violation or breach of some provision of this Order by one or more of the Defendants or by any person or entity acting for, at the direction of, or on behalf of any Defendant. If a request for extension is filed and such request is opposed by one or more of the Defendants, the Court shall hold a hearing to determine if the Order shall be extended, and the burden shall be on the United States to demonstrate why this Order should not be terminated and the Defendants dismissed. If the United States fails to meet its burden, or if no objection is timely filed except for good cause shown, this Order shall terminate this action forthwith. If a request for extension is not opposed by one or more of the Defendants in a timely manner, it shall be granted.

  1. NONDISCRIMINATION INJUNCTION
  1. Defendants, their employees, agents, contractors, assigns, anyone acting under their direction or on their behalf, and all those acting in concert or participation with any of them, are hereby enjoined from:
    1. Refusing to rent or refusing to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable, dwellings to persons because of race or color;
    2. Imposing different terms and conditions in the rental of dwellings on account of race or color;
    3. Making statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination on the basis of race or color;
    4. Representing to any person because of race or color that a dwelling is not available for inspection or rental when it is in fact so available;
    5. Engaging in any conduct which has the intent or effect of deterring, discouraging, and/or interfering on the basis of race or color with any person who is inquiring about or applying for residency in the Green Meadow Apartments; and
    6. Otherwise violating the Fair Housing Act.
  1. AFFIRMATIVE INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
  1. Policies
    1. Within ninety (90) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall adopt and implement objective, uniform and non-discriminatory written standards and procedures for the rental of apartment units at the Green Meadow Apartments. These standards and procedures (hereinafter the "Non-Discriminatory Rental Standards") shall be submitted to the United States within ninety (90) days of the date of this Order for review and approval, and such standards and procedures shall not be implemented absent such approval.
    2. Defendants shall make the Non-Discriminatory Rental Standards available upon request to all tenants and prospective tenants; and, at the time the standards and procedures are first implemented, shall post, in a prominent place at the Green Meadow Apartments, a notice that the standards and procedures are available for review upon request. Such sign shall be in the form attached hereto as the Anti-Discrimination Notice, Exhibit 1, enlarged to 11 inches by 14 inches. Each such sign shall include the Fair Housing logo (house with "=" sign), the slogan ("Equal Housing Opportunity") and shall remain posted so long as this Order is in effect.
    3. If Defendants subsequently propose to change the Non-Discriminatory Rental Standards, they shall first notify the United States and provide the United States with a copy of the proposed changes, which may not be effected without the written approval of the United States.
  2. Notice to Employees
    1. Within ten (10) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall send a copy of this Order, the Non-Discriminatory Rental Standards and a copy of the Anti-Discrimination Notice, Exhibit 1, to each of their agents, employees, contractors, relatives and/or tenants who are involved in renting apartment units at the Green Meadow Apartments (hereinafter the "Managerial and Leasing Staff"). Within twenty (20) days after the date of this Order, each person receiving the Order, the Non-Discriminatory Rental Standards and the Anti-Discrimination Notice shall execute an Employee Fair Housing Acknowledgment Form, attached hereto as Exhibit 2.
    2. Defendants shall provide any Managerial and Leasing Staff member hired or otherwise retained after the date of this Order with a copy of this Order, the Non-Discriminatory Rental Standards and the Anti-Discrimination Notice, upon commencement of his or her employment, contract, or agency. Within ten (10) days of being hired or otherwise retained, each such Managerial and Leasing Staff member shall execute an Employee Fair Housing Acknowledgment Form.
  3. Training
    1. Within seventy (70) days after the date of this Order, Defendants and each Managerial and Leasing Staff member shall attend a three (3) hour comprehensive fair housing training program which sets forth landlords' and rental managers' responsibilities and obligations under the Fair Housing Act and any applicable state or local law, regulation, or ordinance governing equal housing opportunity. Prior to attending the training program, Defendants shall collect and provide to the United States a copy of the agenda, topic summaries, and/or training materials to be used at the training program. Defendants may choose the provider and location (e.g., Hammond, Baton Rouge or New Orleans) of such training program, as long as the content of the training program is approved in advance by the United States. Certification of each Managerial and Leasing Staff member's attendance at this training shall be provided to the United States by the person(s) conducting this training within ten (10) days after the training is provided.
    2. Defendants shall require all Managerial and Leasing Staff members hired or otherwise retained after the date of the first comprehensive fair housing training program to attend a comprehensive fair housing training program similar to those referenced in ¶16, conducted by person(s) or organization(s) approved by the United States, within thirty (30) days after the commencement of his or her employment, contract, or agency. Attendance at such training programs by these individuals shall be certified to the United States by the person(s) who conduct(s) the training programs within ten (10) days after each such training program has been provided.
    3. Defendants shall be responsible for paying all costs and fees required for them or any member of their Managerial and Leasing Staff to participate in comprehensive fair housing training as required in ¶¶ 16 - 18.
  4. Notice to the Public and Advertising
    1. Defendants shall take the following measures to notify the public that all dwellings at the Green Meadow Apartments and all facilities and services associated therewith are available without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, handicap, and familial status:
      1. Within ninety (90) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall provide all tenants at the Green Meadow Apartments with written notice of their nondiscrimination policies;
      2. Within ninety (90) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall post in a prominent place at the Green Meadow Apartments a notice no smaller than 11 inches by 14 inches which indicates that all dwellings are available for rent on a nondiscriminatory basis. A poster which comports with HUD regulations formerly set forth at 24 C.F.R. Part 110 will satisfy this requirement;
      3. If Defendants purchase advertising space in printed or Internet-based rental services, newspapers or magazines, each such advertisement shall include the Fair Housing logo (house with "=" sign) and the slogan ("Equal Housing Opportunity").
      4. Defendants shall prominently display the fair housing logo (house with "=" sign) and the slogan ("Equal Housing Opportunity"), or shall otherwise indicate that they are an equal housing opportunity provider, on the following materials: (i) rental application forms; (ii) lease agreement forms; (iii) tenant rules and regulations; (iv) guest cards; and (v) employer-supplied business cards. Defendants shall print and begin using these materials within four (4) months after the date of this Order.

  1. RECORD-KEEPING

  1. Defendants shall preserve and maintain the following records relating to the Green Meadow Apartments, which shall be available for inspection by the United States upon request at any time:
    1. All guest cards. Defendants and their Managerial and Leasing Staff shall ask each person making an in-person inquiry about the availability of apartment units to complete a guest card;
    2. All completed rental applications, including those that are withdrawn or rejected;
    3. A "Vacancy Log" reporting which units are occupied and/or rented, the units that are vacant, and the units on which the Green Meadow Apartments have received notice of an impending vacancy;
    4. An "Inquirer Log" of all persons making inquiries in person about the availability of apartment units at the Green Meadow Apartments. The log shall reflect, for each such inquirer: (i) his or her name; (ii) current address; (iii) race; (iv) race of accompanying household members; (v) the number of people in his or her household; (vi) the date of inquiry; (vii) the date of application (if applicable); (viii) whether accepted for tenancy; (ix) lease date (if applicable); (x) whether placed on a waiting list; and (xi) the reason and date of rejection (if applicable). With the exception of information concerning the race of inquirers and accompanying household members, Defendants shall obtain such information from an inquirer's guest card or, where applicable, rental application. Defendants shall note the race of an inquirer and any accompanying household members on the basis of visual observation, after taking a guest card; and
    5. copies of all advertisements and the dates of their publication.
  2. Defendants shall permit the United States, upon reasonable notice, to inspect and copy any of the records described in the preceding Paragraph or any other documents related to Defendants' obligations under this Order. The United States shall attempt to minimize any inconvenience to Defendants during the inspection and copying of such records.
  3. If Defendants wish to make material changes to the content or the form of, or the practices involving, any of the records identified in ¶20, they shall first notify the United States and provide the United States with a copy of the proposed changes for approval. Changes shall not be implemented without the approval of the United States.
  1. REPORTING PROVISIONS
  1. Defendants shall serve the United States (1) with the following reports:
    1. Ninety (90) days from the date of this Order, Defendants shall submit a report indicating the steps which they and members of their Managerial and Leasing Staff haven taken up through that date to comply with the terms of this Order. This report shall include the following: (i) a copy of all executed Employee Fair Housing Acknowledgment Forms; (ii) a copy of all materials associated with the required training; (iii) copies of the Vacancy Log and Inquirer Log created during the preceding ninety (90) days; (iv) representative copies of any revised application forms, lease forms, promotional materials or any other documents containing the equal housing opportunity slogan and/or logo; (v) a copy of Defendants' Non-Discriminatory Rental Standards; (vi) a copy of existing policies and procedures governing apartment rentals; and (vii) a copy of Defendants' notice of its non-discrimination policy.
    2. Six (6) months from the date of this Order and once every six (6) months thereafter, Defendants shall provide to the United States a report containing the materials identified in subparagraph (a) of this paragraph for the preceding six month period, except that the materials identified in subparagraphs (a)(iv)-(a)(vii) need not be provided unless they have been materially revised since the preceding report.
  2. Defendants shall notify counsel for the United States in writing within thirty (30) days of the receipt of any oral or written complaint alleging housing discrimination at the Green Meadow Apartments. This notification shall include full details of the complaint, and any action taken by Defendants or any Managerial and Leasing Staff members in response to the complaint, and it shall be accompanied by all pertinent documents, including a copy of any written complaint.
  3. If Defendants sell or otherwise transfer any interest in the Green Meadow Apartments during the term of this Order, they shall provide, within (10) ten days of such sale or transfer, written notice to the United States that they have made such sale or transfer and shall also identify the person to whom, or entity to which, such sale or transfer has been made. The terms of this Order shall be binding on any person or entity acquiring an interest in the Green Meadows Apartments.
  1. MONETARY RELIEF FOR COMPLAINANT
  1. Within ten (10) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall deliver to the United States a certified check for the sum of Thirty Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($30,500.00) payable to the order of Michael A. Smith. This payment is intended to compensate Mr. Smith for the injuries he suffered as a result of Defendants' discriminatory conduct in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The United States shall not deliver the check to Mr. Smith until it has received from him an executed release of claims, in the form attached hereto as Exhibit 3. The United States shall forward the executed release to Defendants at the same time as they disburse the afore-mentioned check to Mr. Smith.
  1. CIVIL PENALTIES
  1. Within ten (10) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall issue a certified check in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) made payable to the order of the United States as a civil penalty pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C). Defendants shall deliver the check or money order to counsel for the United States.
  1. REMEDIES FOR NON-PERFORMANCE
  1. The parties to this Order 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. However, in the event of a failure by 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 hereof, the United States may move this Court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including, but not limited to, an order requiring performance of such act, the assessment of additional damages and/or penalties, and/or appropriate sanctions for civil or criminal contempt.

  1. TIME FOR PERFORMANCE, INTERPRETATIONS AND DEFINITIONS
  1. Any time limits for performance imposed by this Order may be extended by mutual written agreement of the parties.
  2. This Order constitutes the entire agreement among the parties and supersedes and renders void all prior agreements, written or oral, among the parties.

WHEREFORE, the undersigned apply for and consent to the entry of this

Order:

For the United States:

EDDIE J. JORDAN, JR. (1450)
United States Attorney
RALPH F. BOYD, JR
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

ENEID A. FRANCIS (5816)
Civil Chief, Office of the U.S. Attorney
Hale Boggs Federal Bdg.
501 Magazine St. #210
New Orleans, LA 70130
504-680-3060

JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief
JEANINE M. WORDEN
Deputy Chief
KENNETH D. JOHNSON
Trial Attorney
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section (G Street)
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
202-514-6781
202-514-1116 (fax)

For Louis Milazzo, Frances Milazzo and the Green Meadow Apartments:

LOUIS MILAZZO, in his individual capacity and as agent for the GREEN MEADOW APARTMENTS

FRANCES MILAZZO, in her individual capacity and as agent for the GREEN MEADOW APARTMENTS

E. ROSS BUCKLEY, JR.
Buckley & Hayes LLP
1010 Common St., Ste. 2500
New Orleans, LA 70112-2430
504-523-5100


IT IS SO ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED this _____ day of _______________________.

____________________________
PETER BEER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE


Exhibit 1 ANTI-DISCRIMINATION NOTICE

The owners of the Green Meadow Apartments have settled a lawsuit which alleged that there was discrimination against African-Americans who inquired about renting at the Green Meadow Apartments. The owners of the Green Meadow Apartments, however, expressly deny that they engaged in discriminatory conduct in the past.

Copies of the federal court Order settling the case and the resultant Non-Discriminatory Rental Standards are available for your review in the ____________________ [specify office or room] at the Green Meadow Apartments.

The owners of the Green Meadow Apartments have established a firm policy to make all apartment units 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 18 years). Any employee or agent who violates this policy of nondiscrimination will be subject to dismissal or other disciplinary action.


Exhibit 2 FAIR HOUSING ACKNOWLEDGMENT FORM FOR EMPLOYEES, CONTRACTORS AND AGENTS

I hereby acknowledge that I have received and read a copy of an Anti-Discrimination Notice and the Non-Discriminatory Rental Standards, which make clear that the owners of the Green Meadow Apartments adhere to a policy of equal housing opportunity. I also have had made available to me a copy of the Consent Order entered in United States v. Milazzo, et al., United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Civil Action No: 01-0991. I agree to act in accordance with the Consent Order, and I will comply fully with fair housing laws and 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. I understand that if I do so discriminate, I will be subject to dismissal or other disciplinary action.

_____________________________
EMPLOYEE/AGENT SIGNATURE

________________________________
DATE


Exhibit 3 RELEASE OF CLAIMS

NOW THEREFORE AND IN CONSIDERATION of the Consent Order approved by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, on ______________________, in the case of United States v. Milazzo, et al., Civil Action No: 01-0991 ("lawsuit"), and in consideration of the payment of Thirty Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($30,500.00), on behalf of myself and family members, agents, heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns, do fully, finally and forever release and discharge Louis Milazzo, Frances Milazzo and the Green Meadow Apartments, along with their insurers, attorneys, related companies, principals, predecessors, successors, assigns, affiliates, partners, directors, officers, agents, employers, shareholders, subsidiaries, employees, former employees, heirs, executors, and administrators and any persons acting under their respective direction or control, from any and all grievances, suits, causes of action, and claims of any nature whatsoever, legal, equitable or administrative, whether known or unknown, relating to or arising from any discrimination in the rental of apartment units at the Green Meadow Apartments in Tickfaw, Louisiana, based on actions, facts, occurrences or failures to act, all of which allegations are denied by the parties released herein, that occurred at any time prior to the date of execution of this Release.

_____________________________
SIGNATURE

________________________________
DATE


1. All notifications, mailings, or submissions to the United States under the terms of this Order should be sent to: Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section (G Street), Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20530 and shall include Reference No. DJ 175-32-188.


Entered: January 8, 2002. > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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