Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

ALDEN M. WALLACE, III;
PRISCILLA PRINGLE WALLACE;
NELL WALLACE;
AMERIHOMES, LLC;
WALLACE RENTALS, LLC;
THE MANAGEMENT GROUP, LLC;
and
WALLACE MANAGEMENT &
DEVELOPERS, CORP.,
     Defendants.

CIVIL ACTION NO: 4:00-cv-221LN

AMERIHOMES, LLC,
     Cross-Claimant,

v.

ALDEN M. WALLACE, III;
PRISCILLA PRINGLE WALLACE;
WALLACE RENTALS, LLC;
THE MANAGEMENT GROUP, LLC;
and
WALLACE MANAGEMENT &
DEVELOPERS, CORP.,
     Cross-Defendants.

_____________________________________


CONSENT ORDER
  1. INTRODUCTION

The United States filed this action on December 21, 2000, to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. ("the Fair Housing Act").

Defendants Alden M. Wallace, III, Priscilla Pringle Wallace, Nell Wallace, Amerihomes, LLC, Wallace Rentals, LLC, The Management Group, LLC, and Wallace Management and Developers, Corp. ("Defendants") (1) collectively own and/or operate more than two hundred rental dwellings in and around Meridian, Mississippi. Defendants also own and/or operate residential rental properties outside Meridian and Lauderdale County. Attachment A contains a list of all dwellings that Defendants have represented to be the sum total of residential rental dwellings in which they have an indirect or direct ownership, financial, or management interest, in whole or in part, in Meridian and Lauderdale County (hereinafter "Meridian dwellings"). In addition, Defendants own and/or operate residential dwellings outside Meridian/Lauderdale County. Attachment B contains a list of all dwellings that Defendants have represented to be the sum total of residential rental dwellings in which they have an indirect or direct ownership, financial, or management interest, in whole or in part, outside Meridian and Lauderdale County. (2)

In this action, the United States alleges that Defendants have engaged in a pattern or practice of housing discrimination based on race or color with respect to their Meridian dwellings in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Specifically, the United States alleges that Defendants: designated certain rental dwellings for whites and others for blacks; refused to rent dwellings designated for whites to black or mixed-race households; engaged in racial steering by excluding blacks from dwellings such as the Louie Lee apartment building on Frontage Road, single family homes on Old Causeyville Road, mobile homes at Long's Lane Mobile Home Park and Jeffrey Acres, and by limiting the number of blacks at Valley Mobile Home Park; imposed more onerous leasing terms and conditions upon blacks than upon whites; wrongfully evicted or constructively evicted black or mixed-race households on the basis of race; failed to maintain dwellings designated for black and mixed-race households; prioritized repairs of white households over black or mixed-race households; made explicit statements with respect to the rental of dwellings that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race; and coded records on tenants, prospective tenants, and vacant units according to race. The United States alleges that Defendants' conduct was intentional, willful, and taken in blatant disregard of the rights of others.

Defendants have filed answers and at all times denied and continue to deny that they have discriminated against African-Americans, either as individuals or as members of a group, in any way. Notwithstanding this settlement, Defendants continue to deny any liability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq., Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, or any other statute, constitutional provision or common law principle, and assert that this Order is entered into to avoid the burden and expense of protracted litigation and to resolve all matters in controversy between the parties. This settlement is not and should not be construed as an admission of any violation of the Fair Housing Act or wrongdoing by any Defendant. Moreover, each Defendant's participation in this settlement should not be construed as, and is not, a waiver of any defenses to this or any future action or claim against such entity of any kind whatsoever.

Discovery has been conducted by the parties. The parties now choose to implement a negotiated resolution of all issues raised or which could have been raised in this litigation and to enter into a settlement that is final and binding upon the parties and all aggrieved persons identified by the United States who agree to participate in the settlement of this action, without the necessity of further litigation. All parties and their counsel consent to entry of this Order as a final and binding settlement of this action. The parties fully anticipate that the provisions of the Order shall ensure that the Defendants will fully comply with and otherwise avoid any violations of the Fair Housing Act. However, the parties agree that in the event the Defendants do engage in violation(s) of the Fair Housing Act, such violation(s) shall constitute a "subsequent violation" pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d).

This Court has considered the settlement and the terms of this Order and finds that they are fair, reasonable, and just, and consistent with applicable law. Upon due consideration of the provisions of this Order, and of the record and proceedings in this case, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED as follows:

  1. SCOPE AND TERM OF ORDER
  1. The provisions of the Order shall apply to Defendants, their employees, agents, assigns, successors-in-interest, and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them.
  2. This Order is effective immediately upon its entry by the Court. For purposes of this Order, the phrase "date of this Order" shall refer to the date on which the Court adopts this document as its own ORDER.
  3. With the exceptions of Sections III (Non-Discrimination Injunction) and IV (Non-Management Agreement) and as otherwise specifically provided, this Order shall be in effect for a period of five (5) years and three months from the date of this Order. During this period, the Court shall retain jurisdiction of this case to assure that the terms and/or requirements of this Order are properly implemented and maintained.
  4. The United States may move the Court to extend the period in which the affirmative injunctive provisions of this Order are in effect if it determines that Defendants have likely violated one or more terms of the Order, or if the interests of justice otherwise require an extension of the terms of the Order.

  1. III. NON-DISCRIMINATION INJUNCTION

Defendants, their employees, agents, assigns, successors-in-interest, and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them, are hereby permanently enjoined, with respect to the rental of dwellings (3) in which any Defendant, now or in the future, has a direct or indirect ownership, financial, or management interest, from:

  1. Refusing to rent or otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling to persons because of race or color;
  2. Imposing different terms and conditions in the rental of dwellings, or in the provision of services in connection therewith, because of race or color;
  3. Making, printing, publishing, or causing to be made, printed or published, any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the rental of dwellings that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination on the basis of race or color;
  4. Representing to persons because of race or color that dwellings are not available for inspection or rental when such dwelling are in fact so available;
  5. 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 aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by the Fair Housing Act; and
  6. Otherwise taking any action in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619.

  1. NON-MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT
  1. Defendants Alden Wallace, III, Priscilla Wallace, and Nell Wallace (hereinafter "Individual Wallace Defendants") agree to cease and are hereby enjoined permanently from managing any and all dwellings as defined by the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619. This includes all dwellings listed in Attachments A and B and any other dwellings in which any Defendant has a direct or indirect ownership, financial, or management interest now or in the future. Defendants reserve the right to own and/or sell any and all such dwellings.

  2. "Managing" is defined to include the following activities:
    1. engaging in any activity or activities relating to filling vacancies, including but not limited to advertising general or specific vacancies; posting "vacant", "for rent", or other similar signs; preparing or modifying vacancy or waiting lists; recommending prospective tenants to the management company; advising any prospective tenant of a potential or actual vacancy or providing any other rental information to a prospective tenant; discussing or negotiating a transfer of a current tenant to another dwelling; recording or receiving information from a prospective tenant; showing any dwelling to a prospective tenant; receiving rental applications; reviewing, commenting, rejecting, accepting, approving, or recommending a decision regarding, a rental application or prospective tenant; accepting or rejecting a tendered security deposit; negotiating or entering into a lease or other tenancy agreement, whether written or oral;
    2. engaging in any activity or activities relating to maintaining a tenancy, including but not limited to collecting rent, setting and imposing late fees; modifying (orally or in writing) any lease or other tenancy agreement; communicating (orally or in writing) with any tenant regarding his or her tenancy or regarding the landlord/management company's rental policies or procedures and whether the tenant has conformed to these policies or procedures; resolving or attempting to resolve formal or informal disputes or complaints regarding any tenancy or between tenants; receiving, prioritizing, responding to, and resolving any formal or informal request for maintenance or repairs; performing or overseeing, directly or indirectly, any maintenance or repair of a dwelling during a tenancy; and entering a dwelling for any reason except that, upon notice from the management company that a unit is unoccupied, vacant and not under lease, Alden Wallace, III, only when accompanied by a repair team, shall be allowed to visit these rental dwellings for the purposes of inspection and supervision of repairs, and shall not converse with other tenants during such visits;
    3. engaging in any activity or activities relating to the voluntary or involuntary termination of any tenancy, including but not limited to issuing pay-or-quit notices, eviction notices, and notices to vacate; evicting and attempting to evict any tenant; and negotiating move-outs, lease terminations, and the return of security deposits; and
    4. engaging in any activity or activities relating to the selection, retention, discipline, compensation, or termination of employees, agents, contractors, or subcontractors of an Approved Management Company, described in Paragraph Three (3) of this Section below.

  3. Within ninety (90) days from the date of entry of this Order, Defendants shall retain, subject to approval by the United States, an Approved Management Company to manage all dwellings in which any Defendant has an indirect or direct ownership, management, or financial interest, now or in the future. The United States shall not unreasonably withhold approval, and shall notify Defendants of any objections to the selected Approved Management Company within fifteen (15) days of receipt, via facsimile copy, (4) of the contract or proposed contract between Defendants and the Approved Management Company. Defendants shall provide to counsel for the United States a copy of the executed management agreement by facsimile within fifteen (15) days after signing. The Approved Management Company, commencing no more than thirty (30) days from the company's retention, shall have exclusive management authority relating to all management activities, including those listed in Paragraph Two (2) of this Section above. On or before this date, the Individual Wallace Defendants shall cease all face-to-face, written, and telephonic contact with tenants or prospective tenants of any dwellings in which any Defendant has an indirect or direct ownership, management, or financial interest, now or in the future.
  4. Defendants, after acquiring an indirect or direct ownership, financial, or management interest in any additional dwelling, as defined by the Fair Housing Act, shall cede all management control and authority, as described herein, to an Approved Management Company, and simultaneously provide written notice, including the name and address of the dwelling, to the United States:
    1. within thirty (30) days of acquisition, if all or part of the dwelling is occupied by one or more persons at the time of acquisition; or
    2. before offering all or part of the dwelling for rent, if the dwelling is vacant at the time of acquisition.

    When notice is provided to the Approved Management Company pursuant to subparagraph (a) above of this Paragraph, Defendants also shall provide written notice to the tenant(s) of the Approved Management Company's authority, as provided in Paragraph Ten (10) below of this Section.

  5. Defendants, prior to retention of the Approved Management Company, shall provide said Company a complete copy of this Order and shall inform said Company in writing of Defendants' policies of nondiscrimination and of all obligations of Defendants and their agents under the terms of this Order. Defendants also shall inform the Approved Management Company in writing that violation of this Order could subject it to termination of its agency or employment relationship with Defendants and to possible sanctions by the Court. Defendants shall simultaneously provide copies of these communications to the United States.
  6. Defendants, as set out in Section VI (A)(2)(Tenant Policies), shall require the Approved Management Company to adopt and implement their uniform and nondiscriminatory standards and procedures. If the Approved Management Company wishes to change these policies, it shall follow the procedures set out in Section VI (A) (3). Any objections by the United States to proposed modifications shall be made and resolved subject to the procedures in Section VI(A)(3).
  7. The Approved Management Company shall not utilize or employ any individual related to the Individual Wallace Defendants by blood or marriage, any other Defendant, or any business entity or company in which any of the Individual Wallace Defendants have an indirect or direct ownership, financial, or management interest, except as follows: The Approved Management Company shall have sole responsibility for the acquisition of merchandise and/or materials for use in the maintenance and repair of the dwelling units. It may purchase such merchandise and/or materials at its unencumbered choice and discretion from any supplier, including Defendant Alden Wallace, III, or any business entity in which he has an indirect or direct ownership, financial, or management interest. However, if the Approved Management Company elects to make any such purchases from Defendant Alden Wallace, III, or any business entity in which he has an indirect or direct ownership, financial, or management interest, it shall independently choose the merchandise and/or materials and perform its own delivery services. Defendant Alden Wallace, III, shall have no involvement in determining what merchandise and/or materials are used for repairs or maintenance at any specific dwelling unit; he may only serve as a seller of such merchandise and/or materials.
  8. The Approved Management Company shall be the entity which maintains any and all contact with tenants and prospective tenants and shall exclusively perform all activities set out in Paragraph Two (2) above of this Section. In performing maintenance and repair work at dwellings it manages for Defendants, the Approved Management Company may employ or contract with any qualified persons of its choosing, including persons who were formerly employed either by any Defendant or any business entity in which a Defendant had any interest. However, the Approved Management Company shall not employ, contract with, or utilize the services of any individual for such purposes who at the time is employed by any Individual Wallace Defendant or any business entity in which such a Defendant has any interest.
  9. The Approved Management Company shall submit a written report to counsel for the United States every six months. This report shall document any and all prohibited contacts by the Individual Wallace Defendants with the Approved Management Company, the Approved Management Company's agents and employees, tenants, or prospective tenants. The report shall include documentation of any contact or activity set out in Paragraph Two (2) above of this Section by the Individual Wallace Defendants and any actions taken as a result of said contact.
  10. Within thirty (30) days of the commencement of management by the Approved Management Company as set out in Paragraph Three (3) above of this Section, the Approved Management Company shall provide written notification to all current tenants that this company is the manager of the dwellings, and that all rental or maintenance issues must be brought to the attention of this company.

  11. Should the originally-selected Approved Management Company be unable or unwilling for any reason to continue in its role as management company for all dwellings covered by this Consent Order, Defendants shall notify all parties, and retain, subject to approval by the United States, a new Approved Management Company. The United States shall not unreasonably withhold approval. Defendants shall provide a facsimile copy of the new contract within fifteen (15) days of signing, and the United States shall communicate any objections within fifteen (15) days of receipt of this contract, according to the procedures set out in Paragraph Three (3) above of this Section. The new Approved Management Company shall assume all management responsibilities, including maintaining any and all contact with tenants and prospective tenants, within no more than sixty (60) days of the termination of management services of the prior Approved Management Company.
    1. Any interim period between Approved Management Companies may not exceed sixty (60) days;
    2. During any interim period between Approved Management Companies, the Individual Wallace Defendants will continue to be prohibited from managing dwellings as provided in Paragraph Two (2) of this Section above, except that during this interim period, not to exceed sixty (60) days, employees of Defendants who have received Fair Housing training pursuant to Section VI(C) may perform management activities as set out in Paragraph Two (2) of this Section (IV). The Individual Wallace Defendants shall not engage in face-to-face or telephonic communications with tenants or prospective tenants.

    The terms and conditions of this Order shall apply to all future management companies for Defendants. Failure to retain an Approved Management Company within sixty (60) days as required by this paragraph will trigger Divestiture Activities as set out below in Section V.

  12. Starting on or before the date of the Consent Order, the Individual Wallace Defendants shall work in good faith and make diligent efforts to retain an Approved Management Company as required by this Section, including Paragraph Three (3), above. If, within ninety (90) days from the date of this Consent Order, one or more of the Individual Wallace Defendants fails to retain an Approved Management Company satisfying the requirements of this Section, the affected Individual Wallace Defendant(s) shall on or before the ninety-first (91st) day after the date of this Consent Order submit a report to the United States detailing all efforts to secure an Approved Management Company. The Report may be submitted singly or jointly on behalf of all Individual Wallace Defendants. This Report shall include a listing of companies and persons contacted for the purpose of retaining an Approved Management Company and copies of related correspondence and other relevant documents, and identifying the additional steps the Individual Wallace Defendant(s) shall take to retain an Approved Management Company within an additional thirty (30) days. If the Individual Wallace Defendant(s) submit(s) a timely Report that satisfies these requirements, the United States will extend by thirty (30) days the time by which the Individual Wallace Defendant(s) may retain an Approved Management Company. If one or more of the Individual Wallace Defendants who has failed to retain the required management company also fails to submit a timely report satisfying these requirements, no extension will be granted, and the divestiture provisions of Section V below will immediately apply with respect to the non-performing Defendant(s).
    1. Any transition period before retention of the Approved Management Company may not exceed one-hundred-twenty (120) days (if an extension is timely sought) or ninety (90) days (if an extension is not timely sought). Failure to retain an Approved Management Company within this transition period will automatically trigger Divestiture Activities.
    2. During any transition period before retention of the Approved Management Company, the Individual Wallace Defendants will continue to be prohibited from managing dwellings as provided in Paragraph Two (2) above of this Section, except that during this limited transition period, employees of Defendants who receive timely Fair Housing training pursuant to Section VI(C) may perform management activities as set out in Paragraph Two (2) of this Section (IV). The Individual Wallace Defendants shall not engage in face-to-face or telephonic communications with tenants or prospective tenants.
  13. The Non-Management Agreement prohibits agents and employees of the Individual Wallace Defendants from engaging in activities barred by Paragraph Two (2) above of this Section, except as specifically provided above in Paragraph Eleven (11), subpart (b) of this Section, and Paragraph Twelve (12), subpart (b) of this Section; and below in Section V, Paragraph Seven (7).

  1. DIVESTITURE ACTIVITIES
  1. Divestiture Activities, by which one or more of the Individual Wallace Defendants must within ninety (90) days divest themselves of all direct or indirect management, ownership, or financial interest in dwellings (except those used solely for their personal residence), are triggered and apply automatically in the following circumstances:
    1. If one or more of the Individual Wallace Defendants fails to retain an Approved Management Company for all dwellings covered by this Order as required by Section IV, including Paragraph Three (3), within ninety (90) days of the Consent Order and no extension is granted pursuant to Section IV, Paragraph Twelve (12) above;
    2. If one or more of the Individual Wallace Defendants obtains a thirty (30) day extension pursuant to Section IV, Paragraph Twelve (12) above, and fails to retain an Approved Management Company for all dwellings covered by this Order as required above by Section IV, including Paragraph Three (3), within a total of one-hundred twenty (120) days from the date of the Consent Order; and/or
    3. If, following the termination of an Approved Management Company's management of all dwellings covered by this Order, one or more of the Individual Wallace Defendants fails to retain a subsequent Approved Management Company within sixty (60) days as required by Section IV, Paragraph Eleven (11) above.
  2. Divestiture Activities shall begin on the first calendar day after the expiration of the time periods listed above in Paragraph One (1), subparagraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this Section, as follows, to divest one or more Individual Wallace Defendants (5) of all direct or indirect management, financial, or ownership interest in dwellings.
  3. Within forty-five (45) days of the start of Divestiture Activities, the Individual Wallace Defendants shall terminate all direct or indirect management interest in any and all dwellings in which the Individual Wallace Defendants have a management interest but not an ownership interest. The Individual Wallace Defendants shall in compliance with this provision provide written notice of this termination to the owner(s) of all such dwellings and shall simultaneously provide copies of these notices to the United States.
  4. Within forty-five (45) days of the start of Divestiture Activities, the Individual Wallace Defendants shall place for sale all dwellings that are wholly owned, individually or jointly, by the Individual Wallace Defendants and take all reasonable efforts to sell these dwellings, including but not limited to enlisting the services of a broker or realtor; listing the dwellings on the Multiple Listing Service; and advertising the dwellings in one or more newspapers or on television;
  5. Within forty-five (45) days of the start of Divestiture Activities, the Individual Wallace Defendants shall, with respect to all other dwellings in which these Defendants have an indirect or direct ownership, management, or financial interest (including dwellings owned by other Defendants), either divest themselves of their interest in the dwellings or place the dwellings on the market for sale. The Individual Wallace Defendants, and any co-Defendants with an interest in the dwellings, shall take all best efforts to sell these dwellings, including but not limited to enlisting the services of a licensed broker or realtor; listing the dwellings on the Multiple Listing Service; and advertising the dwellings in one or more newspapers or on television
  6. Within ninety (90) days of the start of Divestiture Activities, the Individual Wallace Defendants shall complete divestiture as outlined above and file a report with the United States documenting their divestiture of their direct or indirect management, ownership, or financial interest in dwellings. This report shall include copies of all related documents, including any proof of sale or other transfers of interest; a listing of any dwellings in which divestiture has not been completed; and documentation of the Defendants' efforts with respect to divestiture of these dwellings. If the Individual Wallace Defendants fail to divest themselves of all direct or indirect management, ownership, or financial interest in dwellings or otherwise fail to satisfy this provision, the United States may upon notice and hearing opportunity, seek a Court Order requiring further actions or other relief.

  7. During Divestiture Activities, the Individual Wallace Defendants will continue to be prohibited from managing dwellings as provided in Section IV, Paragraph Two (2) above, except that during Divestiture Activities, employees of Defendants who have received Fair Housing training pursuant to Section VI, Part (C), below may perform management activities set out above in Section IV, Paragraph Two (2). The Individual Wallace Defendants shall not engage in face-to-face or telephonic communications with tenants or prospective tenants, except that they may upon reasonable notice to tenants show the dwellings to prospective purchasers.
  8. At any time during or after Divestiture Activities are triggered pursuant to Paragraph One (1) above of this Section, the Individual Wallace Defendants shall be permanently enjoined from subsequently purchasing or otherwise acquiring a direct or indirect management, ownership, or financial interest in dwellings without first obtaining written consent from the United States or seeking, upon notice and hearing opportunity, court approval of a modification of this requirement. In either circumstance in which the Individual Wallace Defendants are permitted to acquire such an interest, the Individual Wallace Defendants will also be subject to the requirements of the Non-Management Agreement and all other provisions of this Consent Order.
  9. Upon any disagreement among the parties to this Consent Order about the interpretation and/or application of and/or performance under the terms, provisions or goals of this Section V, the parties shall exert their best efforts to resolve such differences. Failing that, any party may file an appropriate Motion, with Certificate of Good Faith, seeking the Court's resolution of the issue.

  1. POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Defendants shall take the measures set forth in this Section to ensure compliance with all federal and state fair housing laws and to ensure that all dwellings in which any Defendant, now or in the future, has an indirect or direct ownership, management, or financial interest are made available for rent to all persons on an equal basis and under the same terms and conditions.

  1. Tenant Policies
    1. Within thirty (30) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall have completed adopting and implementing objective, uniform and nondiscriminatory written standards and procedures for receiving and handling rental inquiries and applications made in person or by telephone.

    2. During the Interim Period before commencement of management by the Approved Management Company, Defendants shall implement the above-referenced uniform and nondiscriminatory standards and procedures and manage the dwellings according to the policies set out below. Upon commencement of management by the Approved Management Company, the company shall, as an explicit condition of its contract with Defendants, immediately implement Defendants' above-referenced uniform and nondiscriminatory policies and, managing the dwellings according to these policies, shall:
      1. Regularly maintain an accurate list of all dwellings known or expected to be available for rent, including the address, number of bedrooms, and monthly rent;
      2. Routinely inform persons seeking housing/vacancy information - without requiring such persons who inquire by telephone to appear in person - of the addresses and other information listed above in subparagraph (a) regarding all rental dwellings known or expected to be available for rent, provided that, if no such dwellings are known or expected to be available, the person shall be offered the opportunity to be placed on a waiting list, to be maintained pursuant to subparagraph (d) below;
      3. Permit and offer all prospective applicants the opportunity to complete a written rental application and/or to be placed on a waiting list, which shall be maintained pursuant to subparagraph (d) below;
      4. Maintain a waiting list of all prospective applicants who wish to be placed on such a list in chronological order by date, and time, if applicable, of inquiry. For all prospective applicants, the waiting list shall state their name, their current address, telephone numbers, and a description of the dwelling desired (e.g. number of bedrooms, monthly rent). The waiting list shall further indicate for each prospective applicant the date of placement on the waiting list, the date(s) and time(s) of attempted or actual communication regarding the availability of a dwelling, and the nature (e.g. telephone call or letter) and result of all such communications. When the Defendant (during the interim period) or the Approved Management Company (thereafter) becomes aware of any vacancies, the company shall contract or attempt to contact persons on the waiting list to offer them an opportunity to apply for the dwelling, before making that dwelling available to any other person, making a record of all contacts or attempted contacts and the results thereof. The company shall contact persons on the waiting list in the chronological order in which they are listed; and
      5. Create and maintain a file of "pre-applications" recording the following information regarding all persons making in-person inquiries about renting a dwelling from Defendants. For each such person, a pre-application shall be completed reflecting his or her name; current address; at least two telephone numbers (if possible); the date of inquiry; the date of application (if applicable); whether accepted for tenancy; lease date (if applicable); whether placed on a waiting list; and the reason and date of rejection (if applicable). The pre-application shall be in a form similar to that attached hereto as Attachment C. The Defendant (during the interim period) or the Approved Management Company (thereafter) shall make it the regular business practice to request this information from all persons making in-person inquiries (either by appearing at a rental office or at a rental dwelling for purposes of inspection); if a person refuses to provide this information, this shall be noted on the pre-application, along with the date of inquiry and any other relevant information based on the good faith observation of the person maintaining the file.

    3. The United States shall review these standards and procedures before they are put into effect. If Defendants propose to change these standards and procedures, they shall first notify the United States and provide the United States with a copy of the proposed changes. If the United States does not deliver written, lawful, and clear objections to Defendants within thirty (30) days of receiving either the initial standards and procedures or the proposed changes, the changes may be effected. If the United States makes any such written objections within such thirty (30) day period, the disputed provision(s) or modification(s) shall not be effected until the objections are resolved, provided that all parties shall actively cooperate to expedite such resolution. If the parties cannot resolve the United States' objections, the matter shall be submitted to the Court.

  2. Notice to Employees
    1. Within ten (10) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall send a copy of this Order and a copy of the Non-Discrimination Notice, attached hereto as Attachment D, to each of their agents and employees who are involved in renting dwellings in the area of Meridian, Mississippi, specifically including any persons who have routine contact with tenants or prospective tenants, whether in person or by telephone. Within twenty (20) days after the date of this Order, each person receiving the Order and the Notice shall execute an Employee Fair Housing Acknowledgment Form, attached hereto as Attachment E.
    2. For the duration of this Order, each new employee or agent of the Defendants and each new employee or agent of Defendants' Approved Management Company who has rental responsibilities shall be given a copy and required to read this Order upon commencement of his or her employment or agency. Within ten (10) days of being hired or otherwise retained, each such agent or employee shall execute an Employee Fair Housing Acknowledgment Form (Attachment E).

  3. Training
    1. Within thirty (30) days after the date of this Order, Defendants, and any other agent or employee of the Defendants with responsibility for the rental of dwellings covered by this Order, shall attend a program of educational training concerning their responsibilities under federal, state, and local fair housing laws, regulations and ordinances, conducted by a company or organization with experience in providing such training programs (approved by the United States), provided that the training program does not require exorbitant costs or impose unreasonable travel burdens upon Mississippi-based persons receiving training, and that the United States will not unreasonably withhold approval of a program. In addition, within thirty (30) days of the commencement of management by the Approved Management Company, all employees and agents of the company with responsibility for the rental of dwellings also shall satisfy these same requirements. The educational program for Defendants and agents and employees of Defendants and the Approved Management Company shall include the following:
      1. Providing a copy of the federal Fair Housing Act to each individual receiving training;
      2. Providing a copy of the HUD brochure, "Fair Housing - It's Your Right", to each individual receiving training;
      3. Instructing each individual receiving training on procedures to ensure that race or color does not enter into the process of providing rental information to persons who make inquiry or making decisions on rental applications;
      4. A question and answer session to review each of the foregoing areas; and

      5. Certification of attendance by the person conducting the educational program for each such person attending the program.
    2. For the duration of this Order, each new agent or employee of Defendants or the Approved Management Company shall receive a copy of the HUD brochure, "Fair Housing - It's Your Right", within ten (10) days of commencement of his or her employment or agency, except that this requirement shall not apply to agents or employees of the Approved Management Company who have no job responsibilities relating in any way to (1) the Company's contract (s) with Defendants and/or (2) any dwelling(s) in which any Defendants has (or have) an indirect or direct ownership, management, or financial interest.
    3. For the duration of this Order, each new agent or employee of Defendants or the Approved Management Company whose responsibility includes renting or showing Defendants' dwellings shall complete a training and educational program which contains the elements set forth in Paragraph One (1) of this Section above, and which shall be conducted by a person approved by the United States. The United States shall not unreasonably withhold approval. The training shall be completed and the written certification described in Paragraph One (1) subparagraph (e) of this Section above, shall be signed within six (6) months after the employee or agent commences his or her employment or agency relationship.
    4. Defendants shall bear all costs associated with the training programs set forth in this Section.

  4. Notice to Tenants and Public

    The Defendants shall take the following steps to notify the public of their nondiscriminatory policies:

    1. Within twenty (20) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall post and prominently display in any space where there is rental activity and/or personal contact with applicants, a Fair Housing poster no smaller than ten (10) inches by thirteen (13) inches that indicates that all dwellings are available for rent on a nondiscriminatory basis. The poster, a copy of which is attached to this Order as Attachment F, shall conform with regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 24 C.F.R. Part 109;

    2. Within twenty (20) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall provide all tenants with a copy of the Non-Discrimination Notice in Attachment D;

    3. Within twenty (20) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall provide all current tenants with a copy of the HUD brochure. "Fair Housing - It's Your Right";

    4. For the duration of this Order, Defendants and/or the Approved Management Company shall provide a copy of the HUD brochure, "Fair Housing - It's Your Right" to each new tenant, providing it along with the tenant's copy of his or her lease;
    5. Defendants shall prominently display the fair housing logo (house with "=" sign) and slogan ("Equal Housing Opportunity"), or shall otherwise indicate that they are an equal housing opportunity provider, on all of the following materials:
      1. rental application forms;
      2. lease agreement forms;
      3. tenant rules and regulations;
      4. "for rent" or "vacancy" signs: and
      5. business cards.

      Defendants shall print and begin using these materials sixty (60) days after the date of this Order or after the current supply of any such materials is exhausted, whichever comes first; and

    6. All advertising conducted by Defendants for their residential rental dwellings in Meridian or Lauderdale County, Mississippi, in newspapers, telephone directories, radio, television or other media, and on all billboards, signs, pamphlets, brochures and other promotional literature during the term of this Order shall indicate that such dwelling is an equal opportunity property. The words or logo should be prominently placed and easily legible. In addition, all newspaper and radio advertising placed shall conform to the provisions of the applicable Housing and Urban Development (HUD) advertising guidelines, 24 C.F.R. Part 109.
  1. TESTING

The United States may take steps to monitor Defendants' compliance with this Order including, but not limited to, conducting fair housing tests at any dwelling unit in which any Defendant, now or in the future, has an indirect or direct ownership, management, or financial interest to deter and detect future acts of unlawful housing discrimination and to determine whether the Defendants are violating any part of this Order.

  1. VIII. RECORD-KEEPING
  1. Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Order, Defendants must submit to the United States a list of all dwellings, including those dwellings identified in Attachments A and B, in which any Defendant has an indirect or direct ownership, management, or financial interest. The list shall include, for all occupied dwellings, the names of each tenant and household member, and the race or color of each tenant or household member, based on the good-faith observation and belief of Defendants and their employees/agents.
  2. For the duration of this Order, Defendants (themselves, during the interim period, or thereafter acting through the Approved Management Company) shall update the list referenced in Paragraph One (1) of this Section above by recording the move-in and move-out date for each dwelling (including dwellings subsequently acquired), the reason for the move-out (eviction or voluntary termination); and for each move-in, the names of each tenant and household member, and the race or color of each tenant or household member, based on the good-faith observation and belief of Defendants and their employees/agents.
  3. For the duration of this Order, Defendants (themselves, during the interim period, or thereafter acting through the Approved Management Company) shall maintain and preserve the following records with respect to all dwellings in which any Defendant, now or in the future, has an indirect or direct ownership, management, or financial interest:
    1. All rental applications, including those that are withdrawn or rejected;
    2. All vacancy listings maintained pursuant to Section VI(A);
    3. All "pre-applications" of persons making in-person inquiries, maintained pursuant to Section VI(A);
    4. All waiting lists maintained pursuant to Section VI(A);
    5. Copies of all advertisements and the dates of their publications;
    6. Any other information recorded by any means related to any inquiries regarding the availability of rental dwellings from Defendants and the persons who made these inquiries; and
    7. Tenant files, including leases, tenant-landlord correspondence, and all records relating to lease violations and eviction proceedings.
  4. Defendants and the Approved Management Company shall permit the United States, upon reasonable notice, to inspect and copy any of the records described in this Section or any other documents related to Defendants' obligations under this Order. The United States shall attempt to minimize any inconvenience to Defendants and the Approved Management Company during the inspection and copying of such records.
  5. If Defendants or the Approved Management Company wish to make material changes to the content or the form of, or the practices involving, any of the records identified in the preceding paragraph, they shall first notify the United States and provide the United States with a copy of the proposed changes. If the United States does not deliver written, lawful, and clear objections to the Defendants or Approved Management Company within thirty (30) days after receiving the proposed changes, the changes may be made. If the United States delivers such objections within the thirty (30) day period, the specific changes to which the United States objects may not be effected until the objections are resolved, provided that all parties shall actively cooperate to expedite such resolution. If the parties cannot resolve the dispute, it shall be submitted to the Court.
  1. REPORTING PROVISIONS
  1. Defendants shall serve the United States (6) with the following reports:
    1. Ninety (90) days from the date of this Order, Defendants shall submit a report indicating the steps they have taken up through that date to comply with terms of this Order. This report shall include the following:
      1. Representative copies of advertisements published during the preceding ninety (90) days pursuant to Section VI(D), along with a list indicating the date of each such advertisement, the publication in which each such advertisement appeared, and the page on, and section in which, each such advertisement appeared;
      2. All employee Fair Housing Acknowledgment Forms completed during the preceding ninety (90) days pursuant to Section VI (B) (Attachment E);
      3. All written certifications of any fair housing educational training program completed by Defendants and any other agents or employees involved in the rental of dwellings during the preceding ninety (90) days pursuant to Section VI (C)(1)(e) of this Order;
      4. Any agenda or summary of any fair housing educational training program completed by Defendants and any other agents or employees involved in the rental of dwellings pursuant to Section VI(C) during the preceding ninety (90) days;
      5. Representative copies of any revised application forms, lease forms, promotional materials or any other documents containing the equal housing opportunity slogan and/or logo that Defendants had printed and began utilizing pursuant to Section VI(D)(4) of this Order;
      6. A copy of existing tenant rules and regulations; and
      7. Written verification that the notices regarding Defendants' nondiscrimination policies have been distributed, pursuant to Section VI(D)(2) of this Order, and a representative sample of such notice.
    2. Six (6) months from the date of this Order and every six (6) months thereafter, for the term of this Order, Defendants (themselves, during the interim period, or thereafter acting through the Approved Management Company) shall provide to the United States a report containing:
      1. Copies of the materials identified in subparagraph (a) of this paragraph for the preceding six (6) month period, except that the materials identified in subparagraphs (a)(5)-(a)(7) need not be provided unless they have been materially revised since the preceding report; and
      2. Copies of all records required by Part VIII (2) and (3) (a) through (f).
    3. During the term of this Order, Defendants (acting themselves during the interim period and through the Approved Management Company thereafter) shall notify counsel for the United States in writing within thirty (30) days of the receipt of any oral or written complaint alleging housing discrimination at or concerning any dwelling unit of which any Defendant, now or in the future, has an indirect or direct ownership, management, or financial interest. This notification shall include full details of the complaint and any action taken in response to the complaint, and it shall be accompanied by all pertinent documents.
    4. If any Defendant sells or otherwise transfers any interest of any dwelling unit in which Defendant has an indirect ownership, management, or financial interest during the term of this Order, this Defendant shall provide, within ten (10) days of such sale or transfer, written notice to the United States that they have made such sale or transfer and shall also identify the person to whom, or entity to which, such sale or transfer has been made.
  1. MONETARY RELIEF FOR AGGRIEVED PERSONS
  1. Within thirty (30) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall pay to the trust account of William Ready, Sr. the sum of three-hundred ten-thousand dollars ($310,000), for the purpose of identifying and fully compensating all aggrieved persons identified by the United States who agree to participate in this settlement for the injuries they suffered as a result of any Defendant's or Defendants' discriminatory housing practices. This money shall be referred to as "the Settlement Fund."
  2. While this money is to be paid into the trust account of Mr. Ready, it represents funds obtained by the United States on behalf of and for the purpose of identifying and compensating aggrieved persons, and shall be handled and disbursed by Mr. Ready as directed, in writing, by counsel for the United States.
  3. The United States will not seek in any forum additional damages on behalf of any aggrieved person against Defendant(s) alleging, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a), a pattern or practice of race discrimination in rental housing concerning acts, statements, or omissions alleged to have occurred on or before the date of this Consent Order.
  4. Any interest accruing to the fund shall become a part of the fund and be utilized as set forth herein.
  5. During the forty-five (45) days following the date of this Order, the United States may publish a Notice to Potential Victims of Housing Discrimination ("Notice"), in a form similar to that attached hereto as Attachment G, in The Meridian Star. The United States may also, in its discretion, publish similar notices in other media or in other forms during this time period.
  6. Alleged aggrieved persons shall have sixty (60) days from the date of the last published Notice to contact the United States to assert a claim on the Fund. Within one-hundred twenty (120) days after the date of the last published Notice, the United States, in its sole discretion, shall determine which persons submitting timely claims are in fact aggrieved persons and an appropriate amount of damages to be awarded to each such aggrieved person, provided that no person shall be compensated pursuant to this Section until after he or she (1) establishes his or her claim to the satisfaction of the United States, including completion of a form similar to that appended as Attachment H, and (2) executes a written release, in a form similar to that appended as Attachment I, of all claims, legal or equitable, that he or she had or might have had against Defendants relating to the Fair Housing Act or other fair housing claims asserted or which could have been asserted in this lawsuit as of the date of this Order; and
  7. The United States shall notify the administrator of the Settlement Fund in writing of its determinations regarding aggrieved persons. Within ten (10) days after receiving this written notification, the administrator shall deliver to the United States separate checks made out to each aggrieved person, as directed in the written notification. Counsel for the United States shall not forward any check to an aggrieved person until the United States has received that person's executed release of claims.
  8. Defendants shall permit the United States, upon reasonable notice, to review any records which may facilitate its determinations regarding the claims of alleged aggrieved persons.
  1. XI. CIVIL PENALTY

Within thirty (30) days after the date of this Order, Defendants shall issue a check or money order in the amount of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) payable to the United States Treasury as a civil penalty pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C) to vindicate the public interest. Defendants shall deliver the check or money order to counsel for the United States.

  1. REMEDIES FOR NON-PERFORMANCE

The parties to this Consent Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution. However, in the event of a failure by Defendants, whether willful or otherwise, to perform in a timely manner any act required by this Order or in the event of any other act violating any provision hereof, any party may move this Court to reopen the case and impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including, but not limited to, an order requiring performance or non-performance of certain acts and an award of any damages, costs, and attorneys' fees which may have been occasioned by non-actions or actions. The failure of any one Defendant who is a party to this Consent Order to abide by the terms and conditions set forth herein shall not, in and of itself, constitute a violation of the Consent Order by another Defendant who is in compliance with its terms.

  1. TIME FOR PERFORMANCE, INTERPRETATIONS AND DEFINITIONS
  1. The parties shall have the right to seek relevant modifications of the Order to ensure that its purposes are fully satisfied and to take account of significant unforeseeable and changed circumstances; provided that under no conditions shall the material provisions of Sections III (Non-Discrimination Injunction) and IV (Non-Management Agreement) be substantially modified. If the parties are unable to reach mutual agreement concerning a particular modification, the burden of proof concerning the propriety of modification falls on the party so moving.
  2. Any time limits for performance imposed by this Order may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties.
  3. This Order constitutes the entire agreement among the parties and supersedes and renders void all prior agreements, written or oral, among the parties. In the event any provision or term of this Order is determined to be or is rendered invalid or unenforceable, all other provisions and terms of the Order shall remain unaffected to the extent permitted by law.
  1. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
  1. Upon expiration of this Consent Order and upon written request to the United States, the United States shall within a reasonable period return to the requesting Defendant(s) any documents containing confidential financial or net worth information provided during investigation and litigation of this action.
  2. This Consent Order may be executed in counterparts, and shall be effective upon the execution of a counterpart by all parties and signing by the Court.
  1. NO THIRD-PARTY BENEFICIARIES

Nothing herein is intended to or shall be construed to have created any standing, causes of action, claims, grievances or any other rights in or for any persons other than between Plaintiff, aggrieved persons identified by the United States who agree to participate in this settlement, and Defendants in accordance with this Consent Order.

  1. DISMISSAL

Upon entry of this Consent Order, this case shall be dismissed without prejudice, and the Court shall retain jurisdiction for a period of five (5) years and three months for the purpose of enforcement or interpretation of the provisions of this Order upon the filing of an appropriate motion by any party.

IT IS SO ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED on this ______________ day of ___________________, 2002.

THOMAS S. LEE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

The undersigned apply for and consent to the entry of this ORDER:


For the United States

DUNN LAMPTON
United States Attorney

ISABELLE M. THABAULT
Deputy Chief
ELIZABETH O. TUCCI
BURTIS M. DOUGHERTY
ERIN MEEHAN RICHMOND
Attorneys
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Northwest Building, Seventh Floor
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 353-9707

MITZI DEASE PAIGE
Assistant United States Attorney
188 East Capitol Street
Suite 500, One Jackson Place
Jackson, MS 39201
(601) 973-2840
Mississippi Bar No. 6014

For Defendants

ALDEN M. WALLACE III

PRICILLA PRINGLE WALLACE

NELL WALLACE

HENRY P. PATE III
720 Watts Ave.
Pascagoula, MS 39507
Counsel for Defendant Amerihomes, LLC

WILLIAM E. ReADY
William E. Ready & Associates
P.O. Box 927
Meridian, MS 39302-0297
(601) 693-6678
Counsel for Defendant Amerihomes, LLC

SAMUEL S. THOMAS
Underwood/Thomas
125 S. Congress Street, Suite 1224
P.O. Box 24057
Jackson, MS 39225
(601) 355-3668
Counsel for Defendants Alden Wallace III; Priscilla Pringle Wallace; Wallace Rentals, LLS; The Management Group, LLC; and Wallace Management & Development, Corp.

SAMUEL H. WILKINS
555 Tombigbee Street
P.O. Box 504
Jackson, MS 39205-0504
(601) 354-0770
Counsel for Defendants Alden Wallace III; Priscilla Pringle Wallace; Wallace Rentals, LLS; The Management Group, LLC; and Wallace Management & Development, Corp.

ROBERT F. WILKINS
Pritchard Law Prim, PLLC
524 E. Pascagoula Street
Jackson, MS 39201
(601) 948-6888
Counsel for Defendants Alden Wallace III; Priscilla Pringle Wallace; Wallace Rentals, LLS; The Management Group, LLC; and Wallace Management & Development, Corp.

1. For purposes of this Consent Order, "Defendants" refers to all seven Defendants, unless otherwise provided.

2. All seven Defendants, through their signatures below, certify that as of the date of this Consent Order, Attachments A and B identify each and every dwelling in which any Defendant(s) has (or have) a direct or indirect ownership, financial, or management interest.

3. For purposes of this Consent Order, "dwelling" means "dwelling" as defined by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b), provided that a vacant, unimproved lot that is zoned solely for commercial, industrial, and/or other non-residential use, without a variance or other provision allowing residential use, shall not be considered a "dwelling".

4. Any objections by the United States provided pursuant to this Consent Order shall be communicated in writing to defense counsel William E. Ready, Sr., at the following address, P.O. Box 927, Meridian, MS 39302-0297, and/or by facsimile copy at (601) 693-1485. Defendants shall provide a copy of the contract or proposed contract to the United States via facsimile and regular mail, pursuant to footnote 6 below.

5. Divestiture Activities shall apply only to those Individual Wallace Defendant(s) who have failed to retain an Approved Management Company as set out in the circumstances and in the time limits provided in Paragraph One of this Section, subparagraphs (a), (b), and (c).

6. All documents or other communications required by this Consent Order to be sent to the United States or counsel for the United States, shall be sent via facsimile, 202-514-1116, and via U.S. mail, addressed as follows: Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.-G St., Seventh Floor, Washington, D.C. 20530. Attn: DJ No. 175-41-181. For documents exceeding 30 pages, the first 30 pages only shall be sent via facsimile and the complete document shall be sent by U.S. mail.


Document Filed: May 23, 2002. > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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