Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

                              Plaintiff,

vs.                                                                    CIVIL NO._________________

FAIR PLAZA ASSOCIATES;
JOHN J. McMULLAN, in his
individual capacity and d/b/a
JOHN J. McMULLAN, REALTOR;
BESSIE GUTIERREZ; NANCY FOWLER;
and FAYE CROW,

                             Defendants.

COMPLAINT FOR MONETARY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AND CIVIL PENALTIES

The United States of America alleges as follows:

  1. This action is brought by the United States of America to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3601 et seq.
  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331 and §1345 and 42 U.S.C. §3614(a).
  3. Venue is proper, since the acts giving rise to this action occurred in this district.
  4. The defendants are the owners and/or managers of multifamily residential rental properties located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  5. Upon information and belief, defendant Fair Plaza Associates is a New Mexico limited partnership that owns two of the rental properties that are the subject of this action - the residential apartment complex known as &quotEl Pueblo,&quot located at 6020 Kathryn Street SE in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the residential apartment complex known as &quotFair Plaza,&quot located at 5901 Alice NE in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  6. Defendant John J. McMullan is a general partner of Fair Plaza Associates. He is also a licensed real estate broker and operates a real estate business in Albuquerque, New Mexico known as John J. McMullan, Realtor.
  7. Upon information and belief John J. McMullan is the owner and/or manager of one of the rental properties that are the subject of this action - the residential apartment complex known as &quotPlaya del Sol,&quot located at 444 Florida SE in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  8. Defendant Nancy Fowler was the rental agent for the El Pueblo apartments and, in that capacity, acted as an agent for Fair Plaza Associates and John J. McMullan.
  9. Defendant Bessie Gutierrez is the rental agent for the Fair Plaza apartments and, in that capacity, acts as an agent for Fair Plaza Associates and John J. McMullan.
  10. Defendant Faye Crow is the rental agent for Playa Del Sol Apartments and, upon information and belief, in that capacity, acts as an agent for John J. McMullan.
  11. The apartments available for rent at the El Pueblo, Fair Plaza, and Playa Del Sol apartments are dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act. 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).
  12. William A. Maher is an individual who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At all times relevant to this action, Mr. Maher had shared custody of his four-year-old son, Kevin, who resided with him for several days of each week.
  13. On or about April 11, 2000, Mr. Maher went to the El Pueblo apartments at 6020 Kathryn SE in Albuquerque to inquire about the availability of an apartment. The on-site manager showed him an apartment. When Mr. Maher indicated that the apartment would be occupied by himself and a child, the on-site manager advised Mr. Maher that it might be a problem and that she would have to call the landlord's office.
  14. On or about April 12, 2000, Mr. Maher telephoned the realty office of John J. McMullan. Mr. McMullan informed Mr. Maher over the telephone that they do not accept children at the El Pueblo apartment complex.
  15. Later the same day, Mr. Maher called Mr. McMullan's office again to ask whether children could visit and was informed that they did not rent to people with children.
  16. Mr. Maher placed two more telephone calls to Mr. McMullan's realty office that day, and was consistently informed that he would not be able to rent a unit at the El Pueblo complex for himself and his child. He was further informed that, were he seeking to rent a unit for himself alone, he would be permitted to do so.
  17. The Fair Housing Project of the Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque (hereinafter &quotFHP&quot) is a non-profit fair housing agency that promotes fair housing practices in Bernalillo County, New Mexico. FHP provides education and outreach services to all segments of the public regarding fair housing; counsels individual home seekers with respect to their fair housing rights; provides referral services to individuals seeking housing; receives, processes, and investigates fair housing complaints; conducts fair housing testing; and pursues legal remedies for unlawful discrimination.
  18. In the spring of 2000, the FHP conducted an investigation regarding defendants' compliance with the Fair Housing Act. As part of its investigation, FHP conducted a series of tests using fair housing testers to evaluate defendants' compliance with the Fair Housing Act. Testers are persons who, without intent to rent an apartment, seek information about the availability of dwellings to determine whether discriminatory practices are occurring. FHP's tests revealed discrimination at one or more of the complexes owned by Fair Plaza Associates and/or John McMullan.
  19. The organization has suffered injury and damages, including the diversion of its resources from its counseling, referral, educational, and other programs, as a result of the defendants' unlawful conduct described above. In addition, the defendants' conduct has frustrated FHP's mission in the community, which is to promote equal housing opportunity.
  20. On or about February 23, 2001, Martin Barnds, who is white, went to the Playa del Sol apartments at 444 Florida SE to inquire about the availability of an apartment. At the complex he spoke with resident manager Faye Crow. After looking at an available apartment, he signed a rental agreement for the unit.
  21. At the time Mr. Barnds signed the agreement he informed Ms. Crow that his fiancee would be moving to Albuquerque and coming to live with him. Ms. Crow indicated that his fiancee's name would need to be added to the rental agreement but it should not be a problem to have her move in.
  22. On or about March 25, 2001, Mr. Barnds' fiancee, Pearl Shorter, arrived from out of town and began staying at Mr. Barnds' apartment. Ms. Shorter is African-American.
  23. The following day when Ms. Crow first saw Ms. Shorter, Ms. Crow told Mr. Barnds that Ms. Shorter could not stay with him in the apartment. She indicated that Ms. Shorter had to leave and that, if she did not, Mr. Barnds would be charged double rent. Ms. Crow indicated that Ms. Shorter needed to get her own apartment and that there were no apartments available at the Playa del Sol apartment complex.
  24. Shortly thereafter Ms. Crow told Mr. Barnds that he had to vacate the apartment within three (3) days. When he did not leave, on or about March 31, 2001 Ms. Crow handed Mr. Barnds a notice signed by complex owner John J. McMullan notifying Mr. Barnds that he must vacate the apartment within thirty (30) days. The notice did not provide any reason for the request that Mr. Barnds leave the apartment.
  25. Beginning in the summer of 2000, the Department of Justice conducted an investigation into defendants' rental practices and policies, which included fair housing testing at some of the defendants' rental properties.
  26. The Department's investigation revealed that defendants are engaged in housing practices that discriminate on the basis of familial status at the El Pueblo apartment complex and on the basis of familial status and race at the Fair Plaza apartment complex.

    COUNT I

  27. Defendants, through the actions referred to in the preceding paragraphs, have engaged in discrimination including, but not limited to:
    1. refusing to rent apartments to individuals or families with minor children;
    2. stating a preference not to rent apartments to families with minor children;
    3. quoting different terms and conditions of rental to families with minor children;
    4. making statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on familial status, or an intent to make such a preference, limitation, or discrimination; and
    5. making false representations to individuals or families with children as to the availability of apartments for rent at particular times, while telling similarly situated individuals with no children that there were apartments available during the same time period.
  28. The defendants' actions, as described above, constitute discrimination on the basis of familial status in connection with the rental of residential dwellings, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604.
  29. Defendants' conduct, as described above, also constitutes:
    1. A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq.; and
    2. A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, which raises an issue of general public importance, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq.
  30. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of others.
  31. The discriminatory actions of the defendants have caused harm to William Maher, Kevin Maher, the FHP, and other persons.

    COUNT II

  32. Defendants, through the actions referred to in the preceding paragraphs, have engaged in discrimination including, but not limited to:
    1. refusing to rent, or to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise making unavailable or denying a dwelling on the basis of race or color;
    2. making statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race or color, or an intent to make such a preference, limitation, or discrimination; and
    3. making representations to individuals on the basis of race or color that dwellings are not available for rental when such dwellings were in fact so available.
  33. The defendants' actions, as described above, constitute discrimination on the basis of race or color in connection with the rental of residential dwellings, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604.
  34. Defendants' conduct, as described above, also constitutes:
    1. A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq.; and
    2. A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, which raises an issue of general public importance, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq.
  35. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of others.
  36. The discriminatory actions of the defendants have caused harm to Martin Barnds, Pearl Shorter, the FHP, and other persons.

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an Order that:

  1. Declares that the actions of the defendants as set forth above constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619;
  2. Enjoins all defendants, their partners, officers, employees, agents, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:
    1. Discriminating on the basis of familial status, race, or color against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
    2. Failing or refusing to notify the public that dwellings owned or operated by defendants are available to all persons on a nondiscriminatory basis, including families with children;
    3. 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 defendants' discriminatory conduct; and
    4. Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to prevent the recurrence of any discriminatory conduct in the future and to eliminate, to the extent practicable, the effects of the defendants' unlawful housing practices.
  3. Awards William Maher, Kevin Maher, Martin Barnds, Pearl Shorter, the FHP, and other persons who have been harmed by defendants' discriminatory conduct such damages as would fully compensate them for the injuries caused by the defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3614(d)(1)(B);
  4. Awards punitive damages to William Maher, Kevin Maher, Martin Barnds, Pearl Shorter, the FHP, and other persons who have been harmed by defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3614(d)(1)(B); and
  5. Assesses a civil penalty against each of the defendants in an amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. §3614(d)(1)(C) in order to vindicate the public interest and deter future violations of the Fair Housing Act.

The United States prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.

JOHN ASHCROFT
Attorney General

RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing and
Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
JEANINE M. WORDEN
Deputy Chief
KEVIN J. KIJEWSKI
CATHERINE A. BENDOR
Attorneys, Housing and
Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 305-2913

DAVID C. IGLESIAS
United States Attorney
ELIZABETH MARTINEZ
Assistant United States Attorney
P.O. Box 607  Albuquerque, NM 87103
(505) 346-7274


Document Filed:September 19, 2002 > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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