Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents


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


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
     Plaintiff,

v.

NO. CS-97-0452-JLQ

WESTERN WILLIAMS and COLLEENE
WILLIAMS, husband and wife, d/b/a
THE PARK ARMS APARTMENTS;
WESTERN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, INC.;
TRACY CLARK; and DOUGLAS CLARK,
     Defendants.

______________________________________


COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988), 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. Defendant Western Property Management, Inc.,(hereinafter referred to as "Western Property"), is a domestic corporation organized under the laws of the State of Washington with its principal place of business located in Seattle, Washington. Western Property is in the business of, inter alia, managing single and multiple family rental properties throughout the state of Washington, including in the Spokane metropolitan area, within the Eastern District of Washington.
  4. Among the residential rental properties which Western Property is responsible for managing is The Park Arms Apartments, located at 2315 West Second Avenue, Spokane, Washington, within the Eastern District of Washington. The Park Arms contains twenty-two (22) apartment units which are rented to the public. The rental units at Park Arms are dwellings within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
  5. Defendants Western Williams and Colleene Williams, husband and wife, are residents of the state of Washington. Among other properties, Western and Colleene Williams have an ownership interest in the aforementioned Park Arms Apartments. Additionally, Western Williams and Colleene Williams are the sole owners of, and have primary management responsibility for, Western Property Management. Through Western Property, Western Williams and Colleene Williams manage Park Arms Apartments.
  6. Defendant Tracy Clark is an agent of Western Property and Western and Colleene Williams, and is the general manager of Park Arms Apartments. Since at least January 1, 1997, Defendant Clark has had primary responsibility for overseeing and managing the rental operations at Park Arms Apartments. Defendant Clark has and continues to reside in the Eastern District of Washington.
  7. Defendant Douglas Johnson is the on-site, resident manger at Park Arms Apartments, and has held that position since at least January 1, 1997. Defendant Johnson is an agent of Western Property and is responsible for the day-to-day operations at Park Arms. Defendant Johnson has and continues to reside in the Eastern District of Washington.
  8. Beginning in 1988 until in or about November 1996, several Russian immigrant families rented apartment units at Park Arms Apartments. The majority of Russian families leasing at Park Arms were informed of vacancies at the complex either through existing Park Arm's tenants or by referrals from local immigrant service organizations. At the time Defendants took ownership and control of The Park Arms Apartments in or about November 1996, approximately fourteen (14) of the twenty-two (22) apartment units at Park Arms were occupied by Russian families.
  9. From 1986 until in or about November 1996, Bob Bethel owned and operated Park Arms Apartments. Mr. Bethel was responsible for renting to the Russian families at Park Arms, including the fourteen (14) Russian families residing at Park Arms at the time of its sale to Defendants Western and Colleene Williams. During the time period the Mr. Bethel owned and operated Park Arms, he never commenced an adverse action against any of the Russian families occupying Park Arms, such as serving them with notices to vacate or other actions required for late rents or disruptive behavior.
  10. Beginning in or about March 1997, the Defendants, individually, in conjunction with one another, and/or by and through their agents, began a systematic and purposeful campaign to discriminate against each and every Russian family residing at Park Arms Apartments. As part of that campaign, the defendants undertook the following acts:
    1. Issued 20 day, no cause eviction notices to Russian, but not non-Russian tenants;
    2. Denied Russian but not non-Russian tenants the use of apartment facilities, such as the common laundry room;
    3. Verbally threatened and harassed the Russian tenants;
    4. Made statements indicating their intent to, and policy of, evicting each of the Russian tenants residing at Park Arms; and
    5. Made derogatory statements about Russians to the Russian tenants and others.
  11. Between March and August 1997, twelve (12) of the fourteen (14) Russian families that had resided at Park Arms prior to defendants taking ownership and control vacated the apartment complex, five (5) of them after receiving twenty (20) day, no cause eviction notices from the defendants.
  12. By the actions set forth above, Defendants have:
    1. Made dwellings unavailable or denied dwellings to persons because of national origin, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
    2. Discriminated against persons in the terms, conditions, or privileges of a rental, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of national origin, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b); and
    3. Made, printed and published notices, statements and/or advertisements with respect to the rental of dwellings which indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination on the basis of national origin, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).
  13. The above-described conduct of defendants, individually and by their agents, constitutes:
    1. A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights secured by Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.; and
    2. A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
  14. There are individual persons who have been victims of defendants' discriminatory practices who are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). These persons have suffered, or may have suffered, damages as a result of the defendants' conduct as described herein.
  15. Each of the defendants' conduct was intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the civil rights of others.

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court grant the following relief:

  1. Declares that the actions of the defendants described herein constitute violations of the Fair Housing Act;
  2. Enjoins the defendants, their agents, employees and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, from continuing to discriminate on the basis of national origin in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.
  3. Requires such actions by the defendants as may be necessary to restore all persons aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory housing practices to the position they would have occupied but for defendants' discriminatory conduct;
  4. Awards such damages as would fully compensate aggrieved persons for damages caused by the defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B);
  5. Awards each person aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory housing practices punitive damages because of the intentional and willful nature of the defendants' conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
  6. Assesses a civil penalty against the defendants in an amount of money authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), in order to vindicate the public interest.
  7. The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.


Respectfully submitted,


  Janet Reno
Attorney General

James P. Connelly
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Washington

Issable Katz Pinzler
Acting Attorney General

Pamela J. DeRusha
Assistant U.S. Attorney
U.S. Courthouse
P.O. Box 1494
Spokane, WA 99210
(509) 353-2767

Joan A. Magagna
Acting Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
  Joseph D. Rich
Frederick B. Rivera
Attorneys
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
(202) 514-6161
> >
Updated August 6, 2015

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