EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
and GREEN MEADOW APARTMENTS,
The United States of America alleges:
- This action is brought by Plaintiff, 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, 42 U.S.C. 3601-3619, and to vindicate the public interest with respect to Defendants Louis and Frances Milazzo's pattern or practice of discrimination against African-Americans.
- Plaintiff, the United States, also brings this action on behalf of Michael Smith, a black male, to enforce his rights under the Fair Housing Act.
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. 1345 and 42 U.S.C. 3612(o) and 3614.
- Louis 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.
- The apartments offered for rent at the Green Meadow Apartments constitute dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act. 42 U.S.C. 3602(b).
- In August 1999, Mr. Smith resided at 3932 English Colony Drive in Laplace, Louisiana, at the home of his half-sister, Christina Gonzalez, who is white.
- On or about August 2, 1999, Mr. Smith telephoned the Green Meadow Apartments to inquire about the availability of a one-bedroom apartment and spoke to Mrs. Milazzo. Before telling him whether any apartments were available, Mrs. Milazzo asked Mr. Smith if he is black. When Mr. Smith answered that he is black, Mrs. Milazzo informed him that only one unit was available, but it had already been pledged to another party pending receipt of a deposit.
- On or about August 16, 1999, Mr. Smith again telephoned the Green Meadow Apartments to inquire about a one-bedroom apartment. Before telling him about apartment availability, Mrs. Milazzo again asked Mr. Smith if he is black. After Mr. Smith answered that he is black, Mrs. Milazzo told him no apartments were available for him to rent.
- On or about August 16, 1999, Mr. Smith's half-sister, Ms. Gonzalez, telephoned the Green Meadow Apartments and spoke to Mrs. Milazzo. Mrs. Milazzo asked Ms. Gonzalez her race, and Ms. Gonzalez replied that she is white. Mrs. Milazzo said "that's good" and asked Ms. Gonzalez if she dated inter-racially. After Ms. Gonzalez stated that she does not date inter-racially, Mrs. Milazzo told her that there was an available unit and that Mrs. Milazzo would hold it for her if Ms. Gonzalez wanted it.
- Mr. Smith discussed Mrs. Milazzo's actions with the Fair Housing Action Center, Inc. ("FHAC"), located in New Orleans, Louisiana. FHAC is a private, non-profit organization that works to further the goal of fair housing and open neighborhoods in the greater New Orleans area through: (1) education and outreach; (2) investigation and enforcement; (3) legal counseling and assistance; and (4) advocacy on fair housing issues. FHAC conducted fair housing testing by having individuals pose as white and black prospective tenants and inquire about apartment availability at the Green Meadow Apartments. During these tests, Defendants:
- Inquired as to the race of a tester posing as a prospective tenant and made statements indicating a preference not to rent to African-Americans:
- Denied the availability of an apartment for rent to black testers, while telling white testers that an apartment was available;
- Refused to show an available apartment to black testers, while offering to show or actually showing the available apartment to white testers; and
- Failed to provide details about an available apartment and the waiting list to black testers, but provided details about the available apartment and/or the waiting list to white testers.
- On or about December 6, 1999, Mr. Smith filed a timely complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), alleging that Defendants unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of race, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601-3619. FHAC assisted Mr. Smith in filing his administrative complaint.
- Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of Mr. Smith's 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)(2)(A), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on January 18, 2001, the Secretary of HUD issued a Charge of Discrimination, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3610(g)(2)(A).
- On or about February 12, 2001, Mr. Smith made a timely election to have the Charge of Discrimination resolved in a civil action filed in United States district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3610(a).
- Following the election, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3612(o).
- Upon information and belief, for the 26 year period prior to the date that Mr. Smith filed his complaint with HUD, Defendants had never rented a unit in the Green Meadow Apartments to a black tenant.
- Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 - 15.
- By their actions and statements, Defendants have:
- Refused to rent, refused to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable, dwellings because of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 3604(a);
- Made statements with respect to the rental of dwellings that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race or color, or an intention to make such preference, limitation, or discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 3604(c); and
- Represented to persons because of race or color that dwellings are not available for inspection or rental when such dwellings are in fact available, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 3604(d).
- Due to Defendants' racially discriminatory conduct, Mr. Smith has suffered harm and incurred damages. Mr. Smith is an aggrieved person as defined in 42 U.S.C. 3602(i).
- Defendants' actions and statements were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the fair housing rights of Michael Smith.
- Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 - 19.
- Defendants' actions and statements, including the implementation of policies to discriminate against African-Americans, constitute:
- A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601-3619; and
- A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601-3619, which raises an issue of general public importance.
- Persons who have been the victims of Defendants' discriminatory housing practices are aggrieved persons as defined by 42 U.S.C. 3602(i) and have suffered harm and incurred damages as a result of Defendants' discriminatory conduct.
- Defendants' actions and statements were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of others.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:
- Declares that Defendants' policies and practices, as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act;
- Enjoins Defendants, their employees, agents, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, from:
- Discriminating on account of race or color against any person in any aspect of the rental of dwellings;
- Failing or refusing to notify the public that dwellings listed, offered, or rented by Defendants are available for inspection to all persons on a nondiscriminatory basis;
- Failing or refusing to notify the public that dwellings listed, offered, or rented by Defendants are available for rental to all persons on a nondiscriminatory basis; and
- Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of Defendants' unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct;
- Awards such damages as would fully compensate Mr. Smith and the other victims of Defendants' discriminatory statements, actions, policies and practices for the injuries caused by Defendants;
- Awards punitive damages to Mr. Smith and the other victims of Defendants' discriminatory statements, conduct, policies and practices; and
- Assesses a civil penalty against each of the Defendants in an amount that will vindicate the public interest against discriminatory housing practices.
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff hereby demands a jury trial as provided by Rule 38(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Civil Rule 38.
|JOHN D. ASHCROFT |
|EDDIE J. JORDAN, JR. (1450) |
United States Attorney
|WILLIAM R. YEOMANS |
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
|ENEID A. FRANCIS (5816) |
Civil Chief, Office of the U.S. Attorney
Hale Boggs Federal Bldg.
501 Magazine St. #210
New Orleans, LA 70130
|JOAN A. MAGAGNA |
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
|JEANINE M. WORDEN |
KENNETH D. JOHNSON
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
Document Filed: April 13, 2001. > >