FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
SUNBURST MOBILE HOME VILLAGE
ED GEIGER, and SERGIO RIVERA
The United States of America alleges:
- This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Anselmo Garcia Herrera and Juana del Rio Bell pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq.
- This action is also brought by the United States pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq.
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1345, 42 U.S.C. §3612(o), and 42 U.S.C. §3614(a).
- Venue is proper in the judicial district of New Mexico under 28 U.S.C. §1391(b) and 42 U.S.C. §3612(o), in that the events or omissions giving rise to this action occurred in this district.
- Defendant Ed Geiger is the owner of Sunburst Mobile Home Village ("Sunburst"), a thirty-one (31) space mobile home park located at 8404 Central S.E. in Bernalillo County, New Mexico.
- Defendant Sergio Rivera is the on-site manager of Sunburst, and has held that position since at least September, 1999. Mr. Rivera is an agent of Sunburst and is responsible for the day-to-day operations at Sunburst.
- The spaces available for rent that are owned and/or managed by the defendants are dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act. 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).
- Anselmo Garcia Herrera and Juana del Rio Bell are individuals of Cuban national origin. On August 18, 2000, Anselmo Garcia Herrera and Juana del Rio Bell filed timely complaints with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3610(a) alleging that the defendants had discriminated against them on the basis of national origin in connection with the rental of space at Sunburst, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
- Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted an investigation of the complaints, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based upon the information gathered in this investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause existed to believe that illegal discriminatory housing practices had occurred at Sunburst, the property which was the subject of the original complaints. Therefore, on August 3, 2001, HUD issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause, and on August 28, 2001, HUD issued a Charge of Discrimination, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3610(g)(2)(A), charging that the defendants had engaged in discriminatory practices, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3604.
- On September 19, 2001, Anselmo Garcia Herrera and Juana del Rio Bell elected to have the charges resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(a) and (o).
- Anselmo Garcia Herrera resided at Sunburst from July, 1999 until in or around the summer of 2000. Juana del Rio Bell resided at Sunburst from March, 1999 until December, 2000.
- Beginning in or about 1999, the defendants, individually and/or in conjunction with one another, began to systematically discriminate against individuals of Cuban national origin residing at Sunburst. The actions and conduct of defendants, included, but were not limited to, the following:
- Making statements indicating their intent to evict each of the tenants of Cuban national origin residing at Sunburst;
- Making statements expressing a preference for non-Cuban tenants;
- Raising the rent for Cuban tenants, but not others; and
- Implementing a policy of evicting Cuban tenants.
- The Fair Housing Project of the Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque, Inc. ("FHP") is a non-profit fair housing agency funded under a grant from HUD which 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 in Bernalillo County, New Mexico.
- In or around March, 2000, Anselmo Garcia Herrera and Juana del Rio Bell sought assistance from the FHP in relation to their tenancy at Sunburst.
- In March, 2000, the FHP conducted an investigation to determine defendants' compliance with the Fair Housing Act. As part of its investigation, the FHP conducted a series of tests to evaluate the defendants' compliance with the Fair Housing Act. Testers are persons who, without the intent to rent an apartment, seek information about the availability of dwellings to determine whether discriminatory housing practices are occurring.
- The FHP's investigation revealed that the defendants are engaged in housing practices that discriminate on the basis of national origin at Sunburst, including, but not limited to, the following practices:
- Refusing to rent to an individual of Cuban national origin; and
- Expressing a preference for non-Cuban tenants.
- By the actions set forth above, defendants have, individually and/or in conjunction with one another:
- Made dwellings unavailable or denied dwellings to persons because of national origin, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(a);
- Discriminated against persons in the terms or conditions of a rental because of national origin, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(b);
- Made statements with respect to the rental of dwellings which indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination on the basis of national origin, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(c); and
- Coerced, intimidated, threatened, or interfered with persons in the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted or protected by section 803, 804, 805, or 806 of the Fair Housing Act, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3617.
- The conduct of the defendants, individually and/or in conjunction with one another, as described above, constitutes:
- 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
- A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
- Anselmo Garcia Herrera, Juana del Rio Bell, and other persons adversely affected by defendants' discriminatory conduct are aggrieved persons within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3602(i).
- Anselmo Garcia Herrera, Juana del Rio Bell, and other persons aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory conduct have suffered damages as a result of the defendants' conduct as described herein.
- Each defendants' conduct and actions described herein were intentional, willful, and/or taken in disregard of the civil rights of others.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an Order that:
- Declares that the actions of the defendants as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3601 et seq., specifically 42 U.S.C. §§3604(a),(b),(c) and 3617;
- Declares that the actions of the defendants were intentional, willful, and/or taken in disregard for the rights of others;
- Enjoin all defendants, their partners, officers, employees, agents, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of the defendants, from:
- Discriminating because of national origin against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
- Failing or refusing to notify the public that dwellings owned or operated by defendants are available to all persons on a nondiscriminatory basis;
- Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of defendants' unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct; and
- 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.
- Awards each aggrieved individual such damages as would fully compensate them for the injuries caused by the defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3) and 3614(d)(1)(B);
- Awards punitive damages to each aggrieved individual, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3) and 3614(d)(1)(B); and
- Assesses a civil penalty against the defendants in an amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. §3614(d)(1)(C) in order to vindicate the public interest.
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
Dated: _________________, 2001
|JOHN ASHCROFT |
United States Attorney
Chief, Civil Division
P.O. Box 607
Albuquerque, New Mexico 871023
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
ELISE S. SHORE
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
Document Filed: October 19, 2001. > >