IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
THE TOWN OF LAKE HUNTING and
FISHING CLUB, INC.,
The United States of America alleges:
INTRODUCTION 1. This action is brought by 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 (Fair Housing Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619.
2. The United States brings this action on behalf of Bill Joly and Gail Joly, pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
3. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
4. Venue is proper in the Urbana Division of the Central District of Illinois, since the events giving rise to this claim occurred in Kankakee County, Illinois, which is in the Urbana Division. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).
5. At all times relevant to the allegations contained herein, Defendant The Town of Lake Hunting and Fishing Club, Inc. ("Defendant Club"), owned a parcel of property east of the City of Momence along the Kankakee River. The mission of Defendant Club is to facilitate hunting and fishing for its members and to promote sociability among its members. Members of Defendant Club own their own homes on Club grounds as personal property. Defendant Club operates and implements its Constitution and By-Laws ("By-Laws") through its Board of Directors.
6. Defendant Club permits only one individual membership per assigned property. Members of a household cannot share a membership, even if they are spouses, but they can all reside in the home and can own property in common. Defendant Club considers a non-member resident as a "guest" of the member of Defendant Club.
7. The homes at Defendant Club are dwellings within the meaning of Section 802(b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINANTS
8. In or around 1987, Complainants Bill and Gail Joly purchased a residence on Defendant Club's grounds, located at 3193 North 16780 East Road, Momence, IL 60954, also referred to as Route 1, Box 430 ("Subject Property"). Complainant Bill Joly became a member of Defendant Club in 1987. Complainants subsequently moved into the Subject Property in or around 1988.
9. The Subject Property is a single family home with stairs leading to the front and back entrances.
10. Complainant Gail Joly is an individual with a disability as defined by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h). Complainant Gail Joly has osteoarthritis of the hips, heart disease, severe back pain, radicular symptomatology of the knees, myotonic dystrophy and spinal stenosis. By 1998, Complainant Gail Joly was limited in her ability to walk with any comfort. She was therefore, at all times relevant, substantially limited in the major life activity of walking.
11. At all relevant times, Complainant Gail Joly was unable to ambulate without the use of a cane, walker, or wheelchair. Each time she wanted to leave or return to her dwelling, Complainant Gail Joly had to sit and scoot up the stairs leading to the front entrance doorway in order to gain access to her home. In or around the summer or fall of 2001, due to the lack of accessibility, the Jolys vacated the subject property and moved into another home that they owned in Bolingbrook, Illinois.
12. From 2001 to 2003, Complainant Bill Jolly presented, both informally and in writing, a reasonable modification request for the installation of the wheelchair ramps and a sidewalk. Defendant "tabled" the requests based on insufficiency of documentation, namely, the lack of a detailed sketch of the ramps.
13. By letter dated October 31, 2003, Complainant Bill Joly again requested permission from Defendant Club to construct ramps at the front and rear entrance of the Subject Property and a sidewalk at the south side of the house to make the back ramp accessible. He informed Defendant Club that these projects were needed because of his wife's medical problems, and were necessary in order for him and his wife to move back to the Subject Property. Attached to his letter was a sketch of the wheelchair ramps, a building permit issued by the Kankakee County Planning Department, Building Division, and a letter from Complainant Gail Joly's doctor supporting Complainants' request for a wheelchair ramp.
14. By letter dated November 14, 2003, Defendant Club denied Complainants' request to install wheelchair ramps, giving as a reason that Complainant Bill Joly was not considered a member in good standing. This was due to a dispute about Defendant Club's legal fees arising from litigation over Complainants' fence. The letter also threatened that a lien would be placed against the Subject Property if Complainants did not pay Defendant Club's legal fees related to the litigation over Complainants' fence.
15. By letter dated December 2, 2003, addressed to Defendant Club's attorney, Complainants' attorney again requested that his clients be allowed to install wheelchair ramps needed for Complainant Gail Joly to access her home.
16. On or about December 7, 2003, complainant Bill Joly and his attorney attended the regular Club meeting to discuss the status of Complainant Bill Joly's membership and the installation of the wheelchair ramps. At the meeting, Defendant Club advised Complainant Bill Joly and his attorney that Complainant Bill Joly was not considered to be a member of the Defendant Club in good standing, and, for that reason, no action would be taken on his request for modifications to his property. Defendant Club informed Complainant Bill Joly that once he became a member in good standing, Defendant Club would reconsider his request.
17. By letter dated April 15, 2004, Complainants' new attorney demanded that Defendant Club immediately consent to the installation of wheelchair ramps in order to accommodate Complainant Gail Joly's disability and correct its records to delete the unwarranted claim for legal fees. Further, he informed Defendant Club that if the Club failed to grant Complainants' requests, Complainants would seek legal remedies.
18. On or about May 2, 2004, Defendant Club held a meeting where the above-mentioned letter was discussed, and the type of action to be taken in response was decided. On or about June 6, 2004, Defendant Club voted to expel Complainant Bill Joly from the Club.
19. By letter dated June 9, 2004, Defendant Club notified Complainant Bill Joly that he was expelled from the Club and informed him that he had six months to dispose of the Subject Property.
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINT
20. On or about September 9, 2004, Complainants Bill Joly and Gail Joly filed a complaint of discrimination (HUD Form 903) with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") alleging that Defendant Club had discriminated against Complainants on the basis of disability and sex, and had retaliated against Complainants, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
21. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD ("Secretary") conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint and engaged in conciliation efforts, which were unsuccessful.
22. Thereafter, the Secretary prepared a final investigative report based upon the information gathered during the investigation, and the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that discriminatory housing practices on the basis of disability and retaliation had occurred. HUD issued its Determination of Reasonable Cause on or about August 12, 2005.
23. HUD issued its Charge of Discrimination against the Defendant on or about August 12, 2005, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendant with engaging in discriminatory housing practices on the basis of disability and retaliation, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.
24. On or about September 6, 2005, Defendant Club made a timely election to have the claims resolved in federal court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
25. Subsequently, on or about September 9, 2005, the Secretary, through the Regional Counsel of HUD Region V, authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of Complainants, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o)(1).
VIOLATIONS OF LAW
26. Defendant Club's conduct, described in paragraphs 10 through 20 above, constitutes:
- discrimination in the sale or rental, or otherwise making unavailable or denying, a dwelling to any buyer or renter because of disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1);
- a refusal to permit, at the expense of the disabled person, reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by such person if such modifications may be necessary to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(A); and
- coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of his having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of his having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by §§ 3603-3606, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617.
27. As a result of Defendant Club's conduct, Complainants have suffered damages and are aggrieved persons within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
28. The discriminatory actions of Defendant Club were intentional, willful, or taken in disregard for the rights of Complainants.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that this Court enter an ORDER that:
1. Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of Defendant Club as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq.;
2. Enjoins Defendant Club, its agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with Defendant Club from discriminating on the basis of disability against any person in any aspect of the purchase or rental of a dwelling or from retaliating against anyone for violating fair housing rights, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and
3. Awards monetary damages to Complainants Bill Joly and Gail Joly, 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.
s/ James A. Lewis
Document Filed: October 5, 2005 > >