IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
DONALD L. RAPP AND E. JANE RAPP,
AND THE DONALD L. AND E. JANE RAPP
The United States of America, by and through its attorney, H.E. (Bud) Cummins, United States Attorney for the Eastern District and Stacey E. McCord, Assistant U.S. Attorney for said district, bring this action on behalf of Raquel Rios, her adult son Fernando Rios and her minor daughter Brenda Rios pursuant to section 812 (o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C.§ 3612(o), and alleges as follows:
1. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
2. Raquel Rios, her adult son Fernando Rios and her minor daughter Brenda Rios are residents of Arkansas and their national origin is Hispanic.
3. The Defendants Donald L. Rapp and E. Jane Rapp reside at 602 S. Longfield, Sherwood, Arkansas, Pulaski County, in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
4. The Defendants Donald L. Rapp and E. Jane Rapp are the Trustors and Trustees of the Donald L. and E. Jane Rapp Revocable Living Trust and are the beneficiaries of the income and principal of the Trust. The Living Trust was created on September 17, 1996.
5. Donald L. Rapp and E. Jane Rapp jointly owned the subject property, 604 S. Fairway, Sherwood, Arkansas. On September 17, 1996, Donald L. Rapp and E. Jane Rapp conveyed their interest in the subject property as well as ten other properties to the Donald L. and E. Jane Rapp Living Trust. The Donald L. and E. Jane Rapp Living Trust holds legal title to the subject property, 604 S. Fairway, Sherwood, Arkansas.
5. As Trustees of the Living Trust, Donald L. Rapp and E. Jane Rapp at all relevant times possessed the power to lease, manage, and otherwise deal with interests in real property held by the Trust, including the subject property, 604 S. Fairway, Sherwood, Arkansas. As beneficiaries of the Living Trust, Donald L. Rapp and E. Jane Rapp received proceeds from the rental of the properties owned by the Living Trust.
6. The subject property is located in Pulaski County within the Eastern District of Arkansas and is a dwelling within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
7. On or about March 17, 2002, Dell Brown, a non-Hispanic friend of Raquel Rios, saw the subject property advertised for rent in the newspaper and contacted E. Jane Rapp about the property's availability. Dell Brown told E. Jane Rapp that she was calling for a friend. In response to E. Jane Rapp's inquiry as to the number of occupants, Dell Brown told her that there would be three adults and one child. E. Jane Rapp agreed to show the subject property in fifteen minutes.
8. Raquel Rios, her minor daughter Brenda Rios, her adult son Fernando Rios and his financée were seeking to live in the subject property. The subject property is a three bedroom, one and a half bath house with approximately 1250 square feet.
9. Raquel Rios, her minor daughter Brenda Rios, a friend of the Rioses, and Dell Brown met E. Jane Rapp to look at the subject property on March 17, 2002. E. Jane Rapp showed the property, pointing out the positive aspects of the house. E. Jane Rapp asked Raquel Rios if she liked the house. When E. Jane Rapp heard the Rioses and their friend speaking Spanish, her demeanor changed and she became very negative. E. Jane Rapp asked how many cars would be kept at the subject property. When Raquel Rios replied three, E. Jane Rapp told her that was too many. E. Jane Rapp told Raquel Rios that jobs were hard to find in the area, to which Raquel Rios replied that she already had a job. She also expressed concern to Raquel Rios about there being so many people and one shower. When Raquel Rios told E. Jane Rapp that she wanted to rent the property, E. Jane Rapp told her that the house was not for her and that someone else was looking at the house.
10. On or about March 18, 2002, Raquel Rios called E. Jane Rapp and asked if she would rent the property to just her and her daughter. Raquel Rios explained to E. Jane Rapp that her son and his financée had found a place to live in West Little Rock. E. Jane Rapp refused to rent to Raquel Rios and stated if she rented the house to two people, sometimes they will move in fifteen or sixteen others.
11. E. Jane Rapp, Donald Rapp, and the Donald L. Rapp and E. Jane Rapp Living Trust rented the subject property to David and Crystal Thomas, who are non-Hispanic. The Thomases had one child at the time they rented the property.
12. During the investigation of the housing complaint, E. Jane Rapp told the Investigator that she only rented to one family at a time consisting of a couple and as many as three children, depending on the ages of the children. Referring to the fact that Raquel Rios was seeking housing for herself, her minor daughter and adult son and his fiancée, E. Jane Rapp told the Investigator that maybe they lived like that in their country.
13. On April 9, 2002, Raquel Rios filed a timely complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (hereafter HUD) alleging that she was discriminated against because of her national origin, Hispanic. She subsequently amended the complaint to add her minor daughter, Brenda Rios and her adult son Fernando Rios as additional aggrieved persons and to add the Donald L. Rapp and E. Jane Rapp Living Trust as a respondent.
14. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of the 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 existed to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. On or about September 9, 2004, the Secretary of HUD issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Donald Rapp and E. Jane Rapp with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
15. On September 30, 2004, Donald Rapp, E. Jane Rapp, and the Donald L. and E. Jane Rapp Living Trust made a timely election to have the claims asserted in the Charge of Discrimination resolved in a civil action filed in Federal District Court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
16. On October 1, 2004, Chief Administrative Law Judge Arthur A. Liberty issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceeding on the complaint filed by the Rioses.
17. Following this Notice of Election, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
18. By the actions and statements set forth in paragraphs 9 through 12, the Defendants have:
- refused to rent, after the making of a bona fide offer, or to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, a dwelling because of national origin in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a); and
- made, or caused to be made, statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination based on national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).
19. Raquel Rios, her adult son Fernando Rios, and her minor child Brenda Rios are aggrieved persons, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as result of the Defendants' discriminatory conduct described above.
20. The discriminatory actions of the Defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of the Rioses.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays for relief as follows:
1. A declaration that the conduct of the Defendants set forth above violates the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3631.
2. An injunction against Defendant, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them from:
- discriminating on the basis of national origin against any persons in any aspect in the rental of a property in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3631;
- failing or refusing to notify the public that properties owned or operated by the Defendants are available to all persons on a nondiscriminatory basis.
3. An award of monetary damages to Raquel Rios, her adult son Fernando Rios, and her minor child Brenda Rios 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.
H.E. (Bud) Cummins
United States Attorney
By: Stacey E. McCord
Assistant U.S. Attorney
AR Bar Number 87114
P.O. Box 1229
Little Rock, AR 72201
Document Filed: November 1, 2004 > >