Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE
United States Attorney
By: JAMES B. CLARK III
Assistant United States Attorney
970 Broad Street, Suite 700
Newark, New Jersey 07102
(973) 645-2700
JC-7387

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

           Plaintiff,

v.

PORT LIBERTE CONDO 1
ASSOCIATION, INC. and
STANLEY RICHTER,

          Defendants.

Hon.

Civil Action No.

COMPLAINT

The Plaintiff, the United States of America, for its Complaint against the defendants, by and through undersigned counsel, alleges as follows:

NATURE OF ACTION

1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Paul Rock to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.

JURISDICTION & VENUE

2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o). Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o) as defendants are located in this judicial district and the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in this judicial district.

PARTIES

3. Defendant Port Liberte Condo 1 Association, Inc. is located at 100 Shearwater Court, Jersey City, New Jersey 07305.

4. Defendant Stanley Richter is the property manager of Port Liberte Condo 1 Association, Inc.

5. Defendants are responsible for general overall maintenance, management and operation of the multiple dwellings and common areas which constitute Port Liberte Condominium 1 ("the complex"), located at Shearwater Court and certain adjacent streets in Jersey City, New Jersey. 6. The units at Port Liberte Condominium 1 are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).

7. Paul Rock ("Mr. Rock") is an individual with an orthopedic condition that substantially limits his ability to walk. Mr. Rock is a person with a disability within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

8. In October of 1998, Mr. Rock and his wife, Agnes Rock, moved into a unit at the complex which they had purchased. At that time, Mr. Rock was assigned parking space number 96.

9. The complex contains a common garage where residents park their cars as assigned by the condominium board.

10. In August 2002, Mr. Rock and his wife moved into their adult son's condominium unit. That condominium unit, a unit within the complex, is located at 208-13 West Shearwater Court, Jersey City, New Jersey 07305. At that time, Mr. Rock was assigned parking space number 3.

11. In or around August 2002, before selling his original unit, Mr. Rock reached an agreement with another unit owner at the complex to switch parking space number 96 for parking space number 31, a space the condominium board had designated as a handicapped-accessible parking space.

12. In approximately June 2003, the defendants terminated the arrangement and required Mr. Rock to use parking space number 3, a space which has not been designated as a handicapped-accessible parking space.

13. Mr. Rock immediately requested that defendants assign him a handicapped-accessible parking space, preferably space 31, which he had been using for the past ten months.

14. After defendants failed to grant his request, Mr. Rock filed a timely housing discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") on July 24, 2003, alleging discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act, on the basis of a failure to make a reasonable accommodation.

15. In response to Mr. Rock's HUD complaint, defendant Stanley Richter sent a letter to Mr. Rock, dated July 31, 2003, which informed Mr. Rock that he could park in parking space number 49, a space which the condominium board had designated as a handicapped-accessible parking space.

16. Mr. Rock responded in a letter to defendant Stanley Richter on August 1, 2003, in which he explained why parking space number 49 was not an appropriate handicapped-accessible parking space for him. Specifically, Mr. Rock pointed out that parking space number 49 was a condominium board designated handicapped-accessible parking space for building 207, whereas he was living in building 208. Mr. Rock further noted that the condominium board designated disabled parking space for building 208 - space number 31 - was approximately 15 feet from the parking garage door for building 208, while space number 49 was approximately 95 feet from the building 208 parking garage door.

17. Another problem with space number 49 is that the accessible aisle for the space is only 3.9 feet wide, a violation of American National Standards Institute ("ANSI") requirements. This makes it difficult for Mr. Rock to enter and exit his vehicle because he cannot sufficiently bend his knees to negotiate the narrow space.

18. Mr. Rock did not receive a response from defendants to his August 1, 2003 letter.

19. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on the information gathered in the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause existed to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on or about April 27, 2004, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination ("the Charge") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

20. On May 17, 2004, defendants made a timely election to have the claims asserted in HUD's Charge of Discrimination decided in a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).

21. On May 20, 2004, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election and terminated the administrative proceeding on the complaint filed by Mr. Rock.

22. Following this Notice of Election, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

23. Defendants, through the actions referred to above, have:

  1. discriminated against Paul Rock in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2); and
  2. refused to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford Paul Rock, a person with a disability, equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B).

24. Paul Rock is an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and has suffered damages as a result of the defendants' discriminatory conduct as described above.

25. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Mr. Rock.

WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays for relief as follows:

1. A declaration that the conduct of defendants as set forth above violates the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.

2. An injunction against defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from discriminating on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.

3. An order that Mr. Rock be provided with a handicapped-accessible parking space that complies with ANSI guidelines, whether that space be parking space number 31 or another space located no farther from the garage door of building 208 than parking space number 31.

4. An award of monetary damages to Paul Rock, 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.

CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE
United States Attorney

_______________________________
By: JAMES B. CLARK III
Assistant United States Attorney

Dated: June 15, 2004

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Updated August 6, 2015

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