IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v. Civil Action No.
and ETHEL GUNTHARP,
The United States of America alleges:
1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Andres Trujillo and Patricia Cruz, pursuant to subsection 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act ("Act"), 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. Venue is proper in that the claims alleged herein arose in the District of New Mexico.
4. Andres Trujillo has schizo-affective disorder and significant hearing loss. Mr. Trujillo is a person with a handicap, as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
5. Patricia Cruz is the mother of Andres Trujillo. Ms. Cruz is an aggrieved person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i) because she was injured by the defendants' discriminatory housing practices.
6. At all times relevant, Defendants Woodrow and Ethel Guntharp owned and operated a rental apartment complex known as the Rock Creek Apartments, located at 3135 Comanche Road, N.E., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87107. The apartments at the Rock Creek Apartments are dwellings within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(d).
7. In late June of 2006, complainant Patricia Cruz called the Rock Creek Apartments to inquire about housing for her son, complainant Andres Trujillo. A woman answered the telephone. Ms. Cruz asked the woman whether the complex accepted Section 8 vouchers. The woman replied that they did, and asked Ms. Cruz a number of questions about Mr. Trujillo, including whether he had a disability, the nature of his disability, whether he was capable of living alone, and whether he needed physical modifications to the apartment. At no time did Ms. Cruz or Mr. Trujillo request any modifications or accommodations.
8. On or about the day following the conversation described in the foregoing paragraph, complainants Cruz and Trujillo visited the office of the Rock Creek Apartments to inquire about an apartment for complainant Trujillo. Defendants Woodrow and Ethel Guntharp were present. Ethel Guntharp asked Ms. Cruz whether Mr. Trujillo was the son with a disability. Ms. Cruz replied that he was. Ethel Guntharp asked whether Mr. Trujillo had bipolar disorder, and stated that defendants had previously rented to a person with bipolar disorder, that it had not worked out, and that they did not want to rent to any more persons with bipolar disorder. Believing that defendants were unwilling to rent an apartment to Mr. Trujillo, Ms. Cruz and Mr. Trujillo left the complex without being shown an apartment.
9. On or about August 26, 2006, Andres Trujillo filed a timely complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to subsection 810(a) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). The complaint alleged that defendants Woodrow and Ethel Guntharp discriminated against him on the basis of disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f).
10. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of Andres Trujillo'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 exists to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on May 1, 2007, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination ("Charge") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Act.
11. On or about May 29, 2007, Woodrow and Ethel Guntharp elected to have the Charge resolved in a civil action in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
12. Following the election described in the preceding paragraph, on May 30, 2007, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
13. Patricia Cruz was harmed by defendants' discriminatory conduct towards Andres Trujillo.
14. Defendants, through the actions referred to in paragraphs 5 - 8, above, have:
(a) discriminated in the rental of a dwelling or otherwise made unavailable or denied a dwelling to a renter because of a handicap of that renter, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1); and
(b) made or caused to be made a statement with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination, or an intent to make such a preference, limitation or discrimination, based on handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).
15. Andres Trujillo and Patricia Cruz are each an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of defendants' conduct described above.
16. Defendants' discriminatory actions were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of complainant Andres Trujillo and Patricia Cruz.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:
1. Declares that defendants' discriminatory housing practices, as set forth above, violate the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19;
2. Enjoins defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them from discriminating on the basis of handicap against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling; and
3. Awards monetary damages to complainants Andres Trujillo and Patricia Cruz 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.
ALBERTO R. GONZALES
LARRY GOMEZ WAN J. KIM
United States Attorney Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
JAN ELIZABETH MITCHELLSTEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Assistant U.S. AttorneyChief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 607
Albuquerque, NM 87103
REBECCA B. BOND, Deputy Chief
HARVEY L. HANDLEY, Trial Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
Entered: August 8, 2007 > >