Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NORTH DAKOTA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

POWERS PROPERTIES;
NCM PROPERTIES, INC.;
TERRACE MANAGEMENT COMPANY;
RICHARD JORDAHL;
WILLIAM BRANDT;
JESSE R. CRAIG;
VELVA PETERSON,
     Defendants.

______________________________

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Lisa Stoutenburg, Keith Stoutenburg, and his minor child Oscar Luke Stoutenburg, pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
  3. Lisa Stoutenburg, Keith Stoutenburg, and Oscar Luke Stoutenburg are residents of the State of Arizona.
  4. Defendant Powers Properties is a North Dakota general partnership that, from August, 1994 to December, 1995, owned the Billmeyer Apartments, located at 37 7th Street North; Fargo, North Dakota.
  5. Defendant Richard Jordahl is a general partner of Powers Properties and was a general partner of Powers Properties from August, 1994 to August, 1995.
  6. Defendant William Brandt is a general partner of Powers Properties and was a general partner of Powers Properties from August, 1994 to August, 1995.
  7. From August, 1994 to in or about February, 1995, Defendant Terrace Management Company, a North Dakota corporation, was engaged by Powers Properties to manage the Billmeyer Apartments on its behalf.
  8. Defendant Richard Jordahl was the owner and sole corporate officer for Terrace Management Company during its period of management of Billmeyer Apartments.
  9. Defendant Velva Peterson was, from August, 1994 to in or about February, 1995, employed by Terrace Management Company as resident manager of Billmeyer Apartments.
  10. From in or about February, 1995 to October, 1996, defendant NCM Properties, Inc., a North Dakota corporation, was engaged by defendant Powers Properties and/or defendant William Brandt to manage Billmeyer Apartments on its and/or his behalf.
  11. Defendant Jesse Craig was, from in or about February 1995 to November 1996, employed by NCM Properties, Inc. as Property Management Representative for Billmeyer Apartments.
  12. Defendant Velva Peterson was, from in or about February 1995 to July 1995, employed by NCM Properties, Inc. as resident manager of Billmeyer Apartments and was supervised by defendant Jesse Craig.
  13. The apartments at Billmeyer are dwellings under 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
  14. On or about June 14, 1995, Lisa Stoutenburg and Keith J. Stoutenburg filed a complaint, later amended, alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of familial status with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). In their complaint, Mr. and Ms. Stoutenburg alleged, inter alia, that in or about December, 1994 and continuing until July, 1995, defendants discriminated against them and Oscar Luke Stoutenburg on the basis of familial status by repeatedly stating that children were not allowed at Billmeyer Apartments and that Oscar Luke would have to leave, by prohibiting Oscar Luke from playing in the hallways or on the Billmeyer grounds, by falsely stating that neighbors had complained that Oscar was noisy, by falsely accusing complainants of causing the hallways and laundry room to be dirty, and by raising complainants' rent because of Oscar Luke's presence in the apartment.
  15. On or about July 12, 1995, after Complainants filed their complaint with HUD, Defendant NCM Management, Inc. sent a letter, signed by Defendant Craig, to complainants stating falsely that they had not paid their rent for June, 1995, indicating that after applying their security deposit to the amount past due they still owed money to defendant NCM Properties, Inc., and indicating that if payment was not received within 10 days, the account would be turned over to collection. Subsequently, the alleged non-payment was noted on complainants' permanent credit history.
  16. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of Mr. and Mrs. Stoutenburg'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)(1), determined that reasonable cause existed to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on September 30, 1999, the Secretary issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination 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, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.
  17. On or about October 18, 1999, Defendant Brandt elected to have the Charge resolved in a civil action in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
  18. By letter dated October 20, 1999, the Secretary of HUD, through HUD's General Counsel, authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
  19. As alleged in the HUD charge of discrimination, and as described in paragraphs 15 and 16 above, defendants took actions to discriminate against persons on the basis of familial status and to retaliate against persons for filing a complaint regarding such discrimination with HUD.
  20. The conduct of defendants described in paragraphs 14, 15 and 19 above, constitutes:
    1. Making unavailable or denying a dwelling to persons because of familial status in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
    2. Discrimination against persons in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling on the basis of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b);
    3. The making of a statement with respect to rental of a dwelling that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on familial status or an intention to make such preference, limitation, or discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and
    4. Coercion, intimidation, threatening, or interference with a person in the exercise or enjoyment, or on account of his having exercised or enjoyed, a right guaranteed by the Act in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617.
  21. Keith Stoutenburg, Lisa Stoutenburg, and Oscar Stoutenburg are aggrieved persons, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of the Defendants' conduct described above.
  22. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Keith Stoutenburg, Lisa Stoutenburg, and Oscar Stoutenburg.

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

  1. Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of Defendants as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.;
  2. Enjoins the 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 familial status against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
  3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate Keith Stoutenburg, Lisa Stoutenburg, and Oscar Stoutenburg, for injuries caused by defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and
  4. Awards punitive damages to Keith Stoutenburg, Lisa Stoutenburg, and Oscar Stoutenburg 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.

JANET RENO
Attorney General

Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

Joan A. Magagna
Acting Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

Brian F. Heffernan
Howard Griffin
Attorneys, Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, DC 20035-5998
(202) 514-4738
(202) 514-1116 (fax)

John Schneider
Assistant United States Attorney
P.O. Box2505
Fargo, N.D. 58108-2505
(701) 239-5671
ND Bar Board ID No. 03278 > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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