UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
KENNA HOMES COOPERATIVE
COMPLAINT OF THE UNITED STATES
The United States of America alleges:
1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (Fair Housing Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619.
2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a). Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).
3. Kenna Homes is a residential dwelling complex comprising 400 apartments, located at 312 Kenna Drive, South Charleston, West Virginia, in the Southern District of West Virginia.
4. The apartments at Kenna Homes are "dwellings" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
5. Defendant Kenna Homes Cooperative Corporation (hereinafter, "KHCC") is a West Virginia corporation with its principal place of business in South Charleston, West Virginia. KHCC is, and was at all times relevant to the allegations of this complaint, the owner and operator of Kenna Homes.
6. Athalee Prince (hereinafter, "Prince") is, and was at all times relevant to the allegations of this complaint, a person with a "mental impairment" and therefore a person with a "handicap" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
7. In June or July of 1999 Prince became a resident of Kenna Homes.
8. At the time Prince became a resident of Kenna Homes there was in effect a rule known as Rule 21, promulgated by KHCC, that forbade residents from keeping animals at Kenna Homes except for "seeing-eye and hearing-aide dogs or any other trained dog, provided the animal is properly trained and certified for the particular disability, licensed and provided further that the stockholder or resident has a certificate or authorization request from a licensed physician specializing in the field of the subject disability."
9. In July 1999 Prince asked KHCC for permission to keep a dog in her residence and supplied a note from her physician in support of her request.
10. On or about July 20, 1999, KHCC denied Prince's request for failure to satisfy the conditions of Rule 21 pertaining to training and certification of the animal and the providing of a certificate or authorization request from a licensed physician specializing in the field of the subject disability.
11. In August 1999 KHCC granted permission to Prince to keep a dog in her residence while it reconsidered Rule 21.
12. In August 1999 Prince brought her dog to reside with her at Kenna Homes.
13. On or about September 14, 1999, KHCC revised Rule 21's exception to remove the training and certification requirements for the animal and the requirement of a certificate or authorization request from a licensed physician specializing in the field of the subject disability, and to provide instead that " a stockholder or resident of Kenna Homes Cooperative Corporation may petition the Board of Directors for an exception to this rule in order to afford a handicapped person equal opportunity to use and enjoy his or her dwelling unit."
14. On or about September 27, 1999, Prince submitted to KHCC a petition for an exception to the revised Rule 21 to allow her dog to reside with her at Kenna Homes.
15. On or about October 12, 1999, KHCC rescinded the revision of September 14 to Rule 21 and reinstated the Rule to its previous form, as quoted in paragraph eight, above.
16. On or about October 26, 1999, KHCC informed Prince that it had reinstated Rule 21 to its prior form, that her documentation submitted in support of her petition for an exception to Rule 21 was insufficient, and that her petition was denied.
17. On or about November 16, 2000, Prince gave KHCC a copy of a prescription she had received.
18. On or about December 1, 2000, KHCC again wrote to Prince stating that she was in violation of Rule 21 and demanding that she vacate her apartment by December 30, 2000.
19. On or about December 19, 2001, KHCC again wrote to Prince demanding that she either remove her dog or vacate her apartment by January 10, 2002.
20. In January 2002 Prince acceded to the demands of KHCC and removed her dog from her apartment.
21. On or about April 17, 2002, Prince filed a timely complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (hereinafter, "HUD") pursuant to section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a), alleging discrimination in housing on the basis of handicap. In her complaint Prince alleged that KHCC refused to make a reasonable accommodation in its rules, policies, and practices when such accommodation was necessary to afford her an equal opportunity to use and enjoy her dwelling at Kenna Homes.
22. 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 filed by Prince, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on information gathered during 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 or about February 9, 2004, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging KHCC with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
23. On or about March 8, 2004, KHCC elected to have the Charge of Discrimination resolved in a civil action filed in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
24. On or about March 9, 2004, the Chief Administrative Law Judge at HUD issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceeding on the complaint filed by Prince.
25. On or about March 9, 2004, the Secretary of HUD authorized and requested that the Attorney General commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o). At the request of the Secretary of HUD, the Attorney General commenced this civil action. KHCC and the United States agreed to an enlargement of time in which the United States must file an action in United States district court, which enlargement extends to and includes the date on which this complaint was filed.
26. Defendant KHCC, by its actions described in the preceding paragraphs, has:
(a) Discriminated against persons in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with a dwelling, because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2); and
(b) Refused to make reasonable accommodations in its rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford handicapped persons equal opportunities to use and enjoy dwellings, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B).
27. Athalee Prince is an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and has suffered damages as a result of the conduct of KHCC, described above.
28. The discriminatory actions of KHCC were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Prince.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:
1. Declares that the rules, policies, and practices of KHCC, as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act;
2. Enjoins KHCC, its officers, employees, and agents, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:
(a) Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale of a dwelling at Kenna Homes, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such a dwelling, because of handicap;
(b) Failing or refusing to make such reasonable accommodations in its rules, policies, and practices as may be necessary to afford handicapped persons equal opportunity to use and enjoy dwellings at Kenna Homes; and
(c) Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, Prince to the position she would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct; and
3. Awards appropriate monetary damages, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o)(3) and 42 U.S.C. § 3613(c)(1), to fully compensate Prince for injuries resulting from the KHCC's discriminatory conduct.
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
United States Attorney
Southern District of West Virginia
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General _____________________________
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
| ______________________________ |
FRED B. WESTFALL, JR.
Assistant United States Attorney
Southern District of West Virginia
Post Office Box 1713
Charleston, West Virginia 25326
| ______________________________ |
MICHAEL S. MAURER
HOWARD R. GRIFFIN
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue
The Northwestern Building
Washington, D.C. 20530
Document Filed: July 29, 2004 > >