Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
ISABELLE M. THABAULT
LORI K. WAGNER
Virginia Bar No.: 39446
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 305-3107
LW-2411

CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE
United States Attorney
MICHAEL A. CHAGARES
Assistant U.S. Attorney
Chief, Civil Division
970 Broad Street, Suite 700
Newark, New Jersey 07101
(973) 645-2839
MC-5483

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,                         Hon.

           Plaintiff,                                                         Civil Action No. 02-

Hawthorne Gardens Associates;
Rosemont Associates;
Lodi Phillipsburg Associates;                                     COMPLAINT FOR MONETARY
David Friedman; Samuel Halpern;                             AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
and Eva Halpern,

           Defendants.

The United States of America alleges:

INTRODUCTION
  1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Trevina Downer, Melody Dawson, Diana McQueen, Maria Pagan, Pamela Puttre, Sharon Williams and Lee Porter, as Director of the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey (FHCNN), (collectively, the Complainants) to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq. It is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o) as well as 42 U.S.C. §3614(a).
    JURISDICTION AND VENUE
  2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1345, 42 U.S.C. §3614(a) and 42 U.S.C. §3612(o)(1) .
  3. The apartments that are the subject of this action are dwellings within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act. 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).
  4. At all relevant times to this action, defendants conducted business in this district and plaintiff's claims arose in this district.
    PARTIES
  5. Defendant Hawthorne Gardens Associates is a New Jersey partnership that owns residential apartment rental properties in New Jersey, including Lodi Court Apartments, located at 126 Route 46 East, Lodi, New Jersey, and Hawthorne Gardens, located at 100 Rock Road, Hawthorne, New Jersey.
  6. Defendant Rosemont Associates is a New Jersey partnership that owns residential apartment rental properties in New Jersey, including Wayne Kings Arms Apartments, 48A Bryne Court, Wayne, New Jersey.
  7. Defendant Lodi Phillipsburg Associates is a New Jersey partnership that owns residential apartment rental properties in New Jersey, including Lodi Circle Apartments, 25 Route 46 West, Lodi, New Jersey.
  8. Defendant David Friedman is or at all times relevant to this action was employed by the defendants as registered agent for each of the subject premises. Defendant David Friedman is or at all times relevant to this action was an owner and/or partner of defendants Hawthorne Gardens Associates, Rosemont Associates and Lodi Phillipsburg Associates.
  9. Defendant Samuel Halpern is or at all times relevant to this action was an owner and/or partner of defendants Hawthorne Gardens Associates, Rosemont Associates and Lodi Phillipsburg Associates.
  10. Defendant Eva Halpern is or at all times relevant to this action was an owner and/or partner of defendants Hawthorne Gardens Associates, Rosemont Associates and Lodi Phillipsburg Associates.
    FACTS
  11. On or about February 26, 2001, Trevina Downer and Melody Dawson filed timely complaints alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of familial status with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3610(a).
  12. On or about March 28, 2001, Diana McQueen and Maria Pagan filed timely HUD complaints alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of familial status, pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3610(a).
  13. On or about April 3, 2001, Pamela Puttre filed a timely HUD complaint alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of familial status, pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3610(a).
  14. On or about September 6, 2001, Sharon Williams filed a timely HUD complaint alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of familial status, pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3610(a).
  15. On or about February 26, 2001, Lee Porter, as director of the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey ("FHCNN"), filed a timely HUD complaint alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of familial status, pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3610(a). FHCNN, located at 131 Main Street, Hackensack, New Jersey, is a private not-for-profit agency, which seeks to educate and assist the public about fair housing rights. In her complaint, Ms. Porter alleges on behalf of FHCNN that as a result of defendants' violations of the Fair Housing Act, the FHCNN has suffered frustration of its mission and diversion of its resources.
  16. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of the complaints filed by the Complainants, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based upon 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.
  17. On August 7, 2002, HUD issued its Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination against defendants 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.
  18. On August 15, 2002, Defendants elected to have their charge resolved in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(a).
  19. Following the above elections, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence civil actions, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3612(o).
  20. From at least 1986 through the present, defendants have maintained a policy of denying second-floor apartments to families with children ten years of age and younger.
  21. In or about August, 2000, Complainant Trevina Downer applied for a second-floor apartment at Lodi Court Apartments for herself and her two-year old son. Defendants denied Ms. Downer the apartment because her son was under ten years old.
  22. In or about February, 2001, Complainant Diana McQueen applied for a second-floor apartment at Lodi Court Apartments for herself and her two children, four years and eleven months of age respectively. Defendants denied Ms. McQueen the apartment because her children were under ten years old.
  23. In or about March, 2001, Complainant Maria Pagan applied for a second-floor apartment at Lodi Court Apartments for herself and her three children, ages four years, seven years and nine years. Defendants denied Ms. Pagan the apartment because her children were under ten years old.
  24. In February, 2001, Complainant Melody Dawson applied for a second-floor apartment at Lodi Circle Apartments for herself and her two sons, ages sixteen years and four years. Defendants denied Ms. Dawson the apartment because one of her children was under ten years old.
  25. Complainant Pamela Puttre resides in a first-floor apartment at Kings Arms Apartments in Wayne, New Jersey. In or about May, 2000, before she moved in to her present apartment, she requested a second-floor apartment for herself and her three-year-old daughter. Defendants denied Ms. Puttre the apartment because her daughter was under ten years old. As a result, she moved in to a first-floor unit at Kings Arms. In or about September of 2000, she requested a transfer to a second-floor unit at Kings Arms. Defendants again denied her request based on Defendants' policy of denying second-floor units to families with children under ten years of age.
  26. In or about February, 2001, Complainant Sharon Williams applied for a second-floor apartment at Hawthorne Gardens for herself and her three-year-old daughter. Defendants denied Ms. Dawson the apartment because her daughter was under ten years old.
  27. After receiving information that Defendants were discriminating against families with children ten years and younger, the FHCNN conducted a series of tests at the subject premises to determine whether Defendants were violating the Fair Housing Act on the basis of family status. The tests provided evidence that Defendants had a policy of not renting second-floor units to families with children ten years of age and younger.
    FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF
  28. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 27 as if fully set forth herein.
  29. Through the actions referred to in paragraphs 20-27, above, Defendants have, personally or through their agents:
    1. refused to rent, or to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, dwellings because of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(a);
    2. discriminated in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of dwellings because of familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(b); and
    3. made, or caused to be made, statements with respect to the rental of dwellings that indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination based on familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(c).
  30. Complainants are aggrieved persons, as defined in 42 U.S.C. §3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of the defendants' conduct described above.
  31. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful and taken in disregard for the rights of the complainants Trevina Downer, Melody Dawson, Diana McQueen, Maria Pagan, Pamela Puttre, Sharon Williams and FHCNN.
    SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF
  32. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 27 and 29 through 31, above, as if fully set forth herein.
  33. The conduct of the defendants described in paragraphs 20-27, above, constitutes:
    1. a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights secured by 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.; and
    2. a denial to a group of persons of rights granted by 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., which denial raises an issue of general public importance.
  34. In addition to Complainants, there may be other victims of defendants' discriminatory actions and practices who are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. §3602(i). All of these persons may have suffered damages as a result of the above actions and practices.
  35. The discriminatory actions of the defendants were intentional, willful and taken in disregard for the rights of Trevina Downer, Melody Dawson, Diana McQueen, Maria Pagan, Pamela Puttre, Sharon Williams, FHCNN and the other victims of this discrimination.
RELIEF REQUESTED

WHEREFORE, plaintiff United States of America prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:

  1. Declares that the discriminatory housing practices of the defendants as set forth above violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq.;
  2. Enjoins the defendants, their agents, employees, successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them from discriminating on the basis of familial status against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling;
  3. Awards such damages as would fully compensate Trevina Downer, Melody Dawson, Diana McQueen, Maria Pagan, Pamela Puttre, Sharon Williams and Lee Porter, as Director of the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey (FHCNN), for injuries caused by the defendants' discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3) and 3614(d)(1)(B);
  4. Awards punitive damages to Complainants Trevina Downer, Melody Dawson, Diana McQueen, Maria Pagan, Pamela Puttre, Sharon Williams and Lee Porter, as Director of the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey (FHCNN), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1) and 3614(d)(1)(B);
  5. Awards such damages as would fully compensate each other identifiable victim of defendants' discriminatory housing practices for the injury suffered as a result of these discriminatory practices, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3614(d)(1)(B);
  6. Awards punitive damages to each other identifiable victim of defendants' discriminatory housing practices, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3614(d)(1)(B); and
  7. Assesses a civil penalty against the defendants in order to vindicate the public interest, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3614(d)(1)(C).

The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.

Dated: October     , 2002

JOHN ASHCROFT
Attorney General

CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE
United States Attorney

__________________________
RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights
__________________________
MICHAEL A. CHAGARES
Assistant United States Attorney
Chief, Civil Division
970 Broad Street, Suite 700
Newark, New Jersey 07101
(973) 645-2839
__________________________
JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing and Civil
  Enforcement Section
__________________________
ISABELLE M. THABAULT
Deputy Chief
LORI K. WAGNER
Trial Attorney
Virginia Bar No.: 39446
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing & Civil
Enforcement Section
Mailing address:       950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
                               Washington, D.C. 20530
Street address:        1800 G Street, NW, Suite 7002 
                              Washington, D.C. 20006
Telephone:              (202) 305-3107
Facsimile:               (202) 514-1116

Document Filed: February 20, 2003 > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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