SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CIVIL ACTION NO: 4:00-cv-221LN
ALDEN M. WALLACE, III;
PRISCILLA PRINGLE WALLACE;
WALLACE RENTALS, LLC;
THE MANAGEMENT GROUP, LLC;
WALLACE MANAGEMENT &
The United States of America alleges:
- 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, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614.
- Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because the events and omissions giving rise to this claim occurred largely in this district and because a substantial part of the property that is the subject of the action is situated in this district.
- Defendant Alden M. Wallace, III ("Alden Wallace") is married to Defendant Priscilla Pringle Wallace ("Priscilla Wallace"). Defendants Alden Wallace and Priscilla Wallace, who reside in Meridian, Mississippi, are in the business of buying, selling, developing, and managing residential rental properties, including such properties in Meridian and Lauderdale County. They own several residential rental properties in Meridian.
- Defendant Nell Wallace is a resident of Meridian, Mississippi. She is the mother of Alden Wallace. Nell Wallace owns residential rental properties in Meridian and/or Lauderdale County.
- Defendant Amerihomes, LLC, ("Amerihomes") is a Mississippi domestic limited liability company formed on or about March 17, 1997, of which Alden M. Wallace and West Alabama Lime, Inc. are members. Amerihomes owns numerous single family dwellings in Meridian and may own or manage other residential rental properties, including such properties in Meridian and Lauderdale County.
- Defendant Wallace Rentals, LLC, ("Wallace Rentals") is a Mississippi domestic limited liability company formed on or about October 15, 1999, of which Alden Wallace is the registered agent. Wallace Rentals owns numerous single family dwellings in Meridian and may own or manage other residential rental properties, including such properties in Meridian and Lauderdale County.
- Defendant The Management Group, LLC, ("The Management Group") is a Mississippi domestic limited liability company formed on or about October 15, 1999, of which Bill Johnson is the registered agent. The Management Group owns the Valley Mobile Home Park on Valley Road in Meridian and may own or manage other residential rental properties, including such properties in Meridian and Lauderdale County.
- Defendant Wallace Management & Developers, Corp., ("Wallace Management") is a Mississippi corporation that was incorporated on or about January 13, 1998 and has been engaged in the development and sale of residential real estate. Alden Wallace is its president and Priscilla Wallace is its secretary.
- Defendants own and/or manage more than 100 residential rental units, including single-family homes, mobile home parks, and apartment complexes in Meridian and Lauderdale County. These residential rental properties are dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act. 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
- Since at least October 1999, Defendants, individually and through their agents, are and have been engaged in discriminatory housing practices based on race or color. The discriminatory practices include:
- For individual rental dwellings, designating whether they were to be rented to white tenants or black tenants;
- Refusing to rent dwellings designated for white persons to black persons or mixed-race households;
- Steering persons toward or away from dwellings based on race;
- Excluding blacks from renting at certain multifamily complexes and mobile home parks, such as the Louie Lee apartment building on Frontage Road and Long's Lane Mobile Home Park, in Meridian, and limiting the number of blacks permitted to live at others, such as Valley Mobile Home Park, also in Meridian.
- Imposing more onerous leasing terms upon black persons than white persons and denying leasing and other services connected with the dwellings to black persons that were available to white persons;
- Wrongfully evicting or constructively evicting black persons or mixed-race couples or families who were placed by employees, contrary to Defendants' stated discriminatory policies, in dwellings reserved for white tenants; and
- Making explicit statements with respect to the rental of dwellings that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race or color.
- Defendants carried out their discriminatory policies by coding tenants, prospective tenants, and vacant units according to race, using "w" or "#1" to refer to white persons and dwelling units reserved for white persons and "b" or "#2" to refer to black persons and dwelling units designated for black persons. Defendants informed individuals who called to inquire about available housing who "sounded black" only of "#2" vacancies. Defendants required their agents and employees to record all inquiries regarding housing as "#1" or "#2" based on the perceived race of the homeseeker.
- The conduct and statements of Defendants, including that described in paragraphs 11 and 12 above, constitutes discrimination against persons because of race or color in the rental of dwellings in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as follows:
- A refusal to rent or otherwise make unavailable or deny dwellings to persons because of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
- Discrimination against persons in the conditions or privileges of the rental of dwellings, and in the provision of services in connection therewith, because of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b);
- The making of statements with respect to the rental of dwellings that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination on the basis of race or color, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c); and
- The representation to persons because of race or color that dwellings are not available for inspection or rental when such dwellings are in fact so available, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(d).
- The conduct of the Defendants 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.
- Persons who have been victims of Defendants' discriminatory housing practices and may have suffered damages as a result of Defendants' conduct described above. Such persons are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i).
- Defendants' conduct described above was intentional, willful, and taken in reckless disregard for the rights of others.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an order that:
- Declares that Defendants' policies and practices, as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act;
- Enjoins Defendants, their officers, employees, and agents, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:
- Discriminating because of race or color against any person in any aspect of the rental or sale 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 Defendants' unlawful housing practices;
- Awards such damages as would fully compensate each person aggrieved by Defendants' discriminatory housing practices for injuries caused by Defendants' pattern or practice of discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B);
- Awards each person aggrieved by Defendants' pattern or practice of discrimination punitive damages, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
- Assesses a civil penalty against each defendant in the 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.
Bill Lann Lee,
Assistant Attorney General
Joan A. Magagna,
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Attorneys, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington D.C. 20035-5988
United States Attorney
Mitzi Dease Paige
Assistant United States Attorney
188 East Capitol Street
Suite 500, One Jackson Pl.
Jackson, MS 39201
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