UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,Plaintiff,
v. CA No.
CHANDLER GARDENS REALTY, INC.,
and DEBRA PACHECO,
The United States of America alleges:
- This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Gina Lavallee pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
- This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1345, and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o). Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).
- At all relevant times, Defendant Chandler Gardens Realty, Inc. was a Massachusetts corporation which owned four apartment buildings in Worcester, Massachusetts: three four-unit apartment buildings located at 544-546½ Chandler Street, and one four-unit apartment building located at 2 Calmia Street (collectively known as "Chandler Gardens Apartments").
- At all relevant times, Defendant Debra Pacheco was the on-site manager for Chandler Gardens Apartments in Worcester, Massachusetts. In that capacity, she was responsible for responding to inquiries, based on newspaper and other advertisements, concerning the apartments within Chandler Gardens Apartments, for taking applications, and for showing those apartments.
- Gina Lavallee is a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She is the mother of a minor child.
- Chandler Gardens Apartments are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
- On or about July 15, 2001, Gina Lavallee answered an advertisement for a two-bedroom apartment on Worcester's West Side listed in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette by calling the telephone number listed in the advertisement. Over the course of the next week, Ms. Lavallee left several unreturned messages concerning her interest in the apartment on an answering machine at the number listed in the advertisement.
- On or about July 23, 2001, Ms. Lavallee once again called the telephone number listed in the advertisement and spoke to Defendant Debra Pacheco. Ms. Lavallee informed Defendant Pacheco that she was interested in renting the two-bedroom apartment listed in the advertisement for herself and her minor son. Ms. Pacheco responded that children did not get on well at the complex, and told Ms. Lavallee that Defendants would not rent the apartment to her.
- Defendants refused to rent the advertised unit to Gina Lavallee because she planned to reside there with her minor child.
- On or about August 20, 2001, the Housing Discrimination Project, a Massachusetts non-profit fair housing organization, began conducting fair housing testing to ascertain whether Chandler Garden Realty, Inc. was engaging in discriminatory rental practices with regard to families with children.
- In conversations with fair housing testers from the Housing Discrimination Project on August 20, 2001, April 8, 2002, and April 23, 2002, Defendant Pacheco indicated that Defendants would not rent units at Chandler Garden Apartments to families with small children because the apartments had not been deleaded.
- On or about July 19, 2002, Gina Lavallee filed a timely complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development alleging that Defendants had discriminated against her because of familial status.
- Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development conducted and completed an investigation of the complaint filed by Gina Lavallee. Based on 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. Accordingly, on November 26, 2002, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
- On December 19, 2002, both Gina Lavallee and Defendant Chandler Gardens Realty, Inc. elected to have the Charge resolved in a civil action filed in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
- On December 19, 2002, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceeding on the complaint filed by Gina Lavallee.
- Following this Notice of Election, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
- Defendants, through the actions referred to above, have:
- refused to rent, or to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, a dwelling because of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);
- discriminated against persons in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling because of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b); 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 familial status, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).
- Gina Lavallee is an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and has suffered damages as a result of the Defendants' discriminatory conduct described above.
The discriminatory actions of Defendants were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Gina Lavallee.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:
- Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of Defendants as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619;
- Enjoins the Defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from discriminating on the basis of familial status against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
- Awards such damages as would fully compensate Gina Lavallee for injuries, including but not limited to economic loss, emotional distress, and loss of housing opportunity, caused by Defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1);
- Awards punitive damages to Gina Lavallee pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1); and
- Awards such additional relief as may be appropriate under 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.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
By its attorney,
MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN
Document Filed: January 21, 2003 > >