Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

QUEENS POINT MANOR, JAMES B.
McCOLLUM, a/k/a JIM McCOLLUM,
OWNER, and LUCY STAPE, RENTAL
AGENT.
     Defendants.

__________________________________


COMPLAINT FOR MONETARY AND INJUNCTIVE

RELIEF AND CIVIL PENALTIES

The United States of America alleges as follows:

  1. JURISDICTION AND VENUE
  1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Christina McKelvy, Diandra McKelvy and Victor McKelvy and the Fair Housing Project of the Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque, Inc. ("FHP"), 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because the actions giving rise to the United States' allegations occurred in the District of New Mexico and Queens Point Manor ("Queens Point"), the subject property, is located in the District of New Mexico.
  1. PROPERTY AND PARTIES
  1. Queens Point is a fifty-three (53) unit, residential apartment complex located at 3308 Morris Street, NE, in Bernalillo County, New Mexico.
  2. The apartments at Queens Point are dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act. 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).
  3. Defendant James Barron McCollum is the owner of Queens Point. Defendant McCollum manages Queens Point but does not reside on the property.
  4. Defendant Lucy Stape is the rental agent for Queens Point.
  5. Defendant Stape acted as an agent for Defendant Jim McCollum doing business at Queens Point.
  1. FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF
  1. Plaintiff realleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 9 above.
  2. Christine McKelvy is an individual who has custody of children under the age of 18 who reside with her. On or about November 23, 1998, Christina McKelvy, on behalf of herself and her minor children, Diandra McKelvy and Victor McKelvy, filed a timely complaint 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 her and her children on the basis of familial status in connection with the rental of apartments at Queens Point in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
  3. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted an investigation of Christina McKelvy's complaint, 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 Queens Point, the property which was the subject of the original complaint. Therefore, on April 13, 2001, the Secretary issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause and 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.
  4. On May 2, 2001, Defendants James B. McCollum, a/k/a Jim McCollum, and Lucy Stape made a timely election to have the charge resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(a).
  5. The Secretary subsequently authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of Christina McKelvy, Diandra McKelvy, Victor McKelvy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o).
  6. On or about September 17, 1998, Ms. McKelvy went to Queens Manor and informed the Defendants that she was looking for an apartment for herself, her husband and their two daughters, ages 9 and 11 and was informed that no apartments were available when in fact, apartments were available. Christina McKelvy, Diandra McKelvy and Victor McKelvy have suffered damages as a result of the Defendant's conduct as described herein.
  7. Christine McKelvy, Diandra McKelvy and Victor McKelvy are aggrieved persons and members of a protected class within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602 (i)and(k).
  8. The discriminatory actions of the Defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of others.
  9. The discriminatory actions of the Defendants may have caused harm to other persons.
  1. SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF
  1. Plaintiff realleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 18 above.
  2. The FHP is a non-profit fair housing agency funded under a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 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. On or about November 12, 1998, the FHP filed a timely complaint 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 persons on the basis of familial status in connection with the rental of apartments at Queens Point in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
  3. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted an investigation of the FHP's complaint, 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 Queens Point, the property which was the subject of the original complaint. Therefore, on April 13, 2001, the Secretary issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause and 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.
  4. On May 2, 2001, Defendants James B. McCollum, a/k/a Jim McCollum, and Lucy Stape made a timely election to have the charge resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(a).
  5. The Secretary subsequently authorized the Attorney General to file this action on behalf of the FHP pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o).
  6. From November 1997 through November 1998, the FHP conducted an investigation to determine Defendants' compliance with the Fair Housing Act. As part of its investigation, 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.
  7. The investigation revealed that the Defendants are engaged in housing practices that discriminate on the basis of familial status at Queens Point, including, but not limited to, the following practices:
    1. implementing a policy of charging rent according to the number of persons who occupy a rental unit;
    2. refusing to rent apartments located above the first floor to families with minor children;
    3. stating a preference not to rent apartments located above the first floor to families with minor children;
    4. quoting different terms and conditions of renting to families with children;
    5. making statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on familial status, or an intent to make such a preference, limitation, or discrimination;
    6. informing prospective applicants with children that no apartments were available to rent at the date requested while telling similarly situated individuals with no children that there were apartments available during the same time period; and
    7. placing advertisements that state a preference for adults without children and discounts for single occupancy. (1)
  8. The FHP is an aggrieved party as defined in 42 U.S.C. §3602(i). The organization has suffered injury and damages, including the diversion of its resources from its counseling, referral, educational, and other programs, as a result of the Defendants' unlawful conduct as described above. In addition, the Defendants' conduct has also frustrated the FHP's mission in the community which is to promote equal housing opportunity and as a result the FHP has been forced to take steps to counteract the effects of the Defendant's discriminatory rental practices in the community.
  9. The Defendants' actions, as described above, constitute discrimination on the basis of familial status in connection with the rental of residential dwellings, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604.
  10. The conduct of the Defendants as described above also constitutes:
    1. 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
    2. 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.
  11. The discriminatory actions of the Defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of others.
  12. The discriminatory actions of the Defendants may have caused harm to other persons.
  1. PRAYER FOR RELIEF

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

  1. Declares that the actions of the Defendants as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604;
  2. Enjoins all Defendants, their partners, officers, employees, agents, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:
    1. Discriminating on the basis of familial status against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
    2. Failing or refusing to notify the public that dwellings owned or operated by Defendants are available to all persons on a nondiscriminatory basis, including families with children;
    3. 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
    4. 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.
  3. Awards the aggrieved persons and other persons who may have been harmed by Defendants' discriminatory conduct 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 3613(c);
  4. Awards punitive damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c) to the aggrieved persons and other persons who may have been harmed by Defendants' discriminatory conduct; and
  5. Assesses a civil penalty against each of 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.


      JOHN D. ASHCROFT
    Attorney General

    NORMAN C. BAY
    United States Attorney

    WILLIAM R. YEOMANS
    Acting Assistant Attorney General
    Civil Rights Division

    JAN ELIZABETH MITCHELL
    Assistant United States Attorney
    P.O. Box 607
    Albuquerque, NM 87103
    (505) 346-7274

    JOAN A. MAGAGNA
    Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
      JEANINE M. WORDEN
    Deputy Chief
    RHONDA L. CAMPBELL
    Attorney
    Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
    Civil Rights Division
    U.S. Department of Justice
    P.O. Box 65998
    Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
    (202) 305-2951

    Document Filed: June 1, 2001. > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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