Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

Civil Action No. 00-cv-4086

JOHN STRIETER; GLORIA STRIETER;
and STRIETER CORPORATION,
     Defendants.

________________________________


FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

  1. This action is brought by plaintiff, the United States, to enforce the provisions of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq., and to vindicate the public interest with respect to defendants' pattern or practice of discrimination as evidenced by their discriminatory "no wheelchairs" housing policy.
  2. Plaintiff, the United States, also brings this action on behalf of Randy and Tara Upton to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act insofar as the Uptons' fair housing rights were violated by the defendants' actions and statements.
  3. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o) and § 3614.
  4. The defendant Strieter Corporation is an Illinois-registered corporation with principal offices at 2100 18th Avenue, Rock Island, Illinois 61201.
  5. The defendant John Strieter is President of the Strieter Corporation. The defendant Gloria Strieter is the Vice-President of the Strieter Corporation. John and Gloria Strieter are residents of Rock Island, Illinois.
  6. At all relevant times, John and Gloria Strieter, through the Strieter Corporation, owned and managed the Hillgate Apartments ("Hillgate"). Hillgate, located in East Moline, Illinois, consists of six two-story buildings with rental units on both the ground floor and the second floor of each building.
  7. Each unit at the Hillgate Apartments is a dwelling within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
  8. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), in that each defendant is a resident within this judicial district.
  9. Randy and Tara Upton ("complainants"), a married couple, are residents of Carbon Cliff, Illinois. Randy Upton, a veteran of the United States Navy, suffers from mobility and hearing disabilities resulting from injuries sustained in a vehicular accident in 1993. Mr. Upton uses a wheelchair. His physical disabilities limit his ability to walk and to hear. Mr. Upton is handicapped within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
  10. Mrs. Upton has been deaf since birth. She is a graduate of Gallaudet University. She uses a TTY relay service for communicating over the telephone.
  11. During September and October of 1998, the Uptons were living at an apartment complex and their lease was due to expire in or about December 1998. The Uptons expected a sharp increase in rent at the expiration of their lease.
  12. As a result of their anticipated lease expiration, the Uptons, in September and October of 1998, made extensive efforts to seek affordable replacement housing.
  13. Mrs. Upton was also approximately eight months pregnant during this time period with the Uptons' first child. Thus, in addition to their anticipated lease expiration, the Uptons were anxious to find replacement housing before Mrs. Upton was due to give birth in October, 1998.
  14. On or about October 7, 1998, Tara Upton contacted the Hillgate Apartments using the Illinois TTY Relay Service. In that conversation, which took place over two separate telephone contacts, defendants stated that they had a "policy" of "no wheelchairs." Defendants refused to allow the Uptons to view an available apartment, and refused to allow the Uptons to determine if such unit was usable by persons who used wheelchairs, or could be made usable.
  15. On or about October 13, 1998, Randy Upton filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") a timely complaint pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §3610(a). The complaint alleges that the defendants refused to rent to Mr. and Mrs. Upton on account of Mr. Upton's disability and his use of a wheelchair. On or about February 20, 1999, Randy Upton amended his complaint to include Tara Upton as an aggrieved party. On or about April 20, 1999, the Uptons amended their complaint to allege a count of discriminatory denial of a dwelling because of handicap and a count of making a statement of discriminatory preference.
  16. As required by Section 810(a) and (b) of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development ("Secretary") has conducted an investigation of the 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), has determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred. Therefore, on July 26, 2000, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging respondents John Strieter, Gloria Strieter, and the Strieter Corporation with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3604.
  17. On August 21, 2000, the Uptons made a timely election to have their claims against the defendants adjudicated in a Federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
First Claim For Relief
  1. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-17 above.
  2. By their actions and statements referred to in the foregoing paragraphs, defendants have:
    1. made unavailable or denied a dwelling because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1);
    2. refused to consider proposals for, and permit, reasonable modifications, at the Uptons' expense, which were necessary to afford the Uptons a full and equal housing opportunity, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3); and
    3. made statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).
  3. Randy Upton and Tara Upton are "aggrieved persons" as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and suffered injuries as a result of the defendants' discriminatory conduct.
  4. The defendants' actions and statements described in the preceding paragraphs were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the fair housing rights of Randy and Tara Upton.
Second Claim For Relief
  1. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference paragraphs 1-21 above.
  2. Defendants have engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against persons with handicaps. Defendants have implemented this pattern or practice, among other ways, by:
    1. Stating and maintaining a policy of "no wheelchairs" at the Hillgate Apartments; and
    2. Limiting the use of motorized scooters and other mobility assistance devices within the apartments at Hillgate Apartments.
  3. The defendants' actions and statements described in the preceding paragraphs, including the application of a discriminatory policy, constitute:
    1. a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619;
    2. A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601-3619, which raises an issue of general public importance.
  4. Persons who have been the victims of the defendants' discriminatory housing practices are aggrieved persons as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i) and may have suffered injuries as a result of the defendants' conduct described above.

WHEREFORE, the United States respectfully requests that the Court enter an ORDER that:

  1. Declares that the defendants' discriminatory housing practices violate the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.;
  2. Enjoins the defendants, their officers, agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:
    1. making discriminatory statements with respect to any sale or rental of housing indicating any preference or limitation on the basis of handicap;
    2. refusing to rent to the Uptons or other persons with disabilities on the basis of handicap;
    3. refusing to permit the Uptons or other persons with disabilities an opportunity to inspect any available apartments owned or managed by the defendants for purposes of determining whether to rent such apartments;
    4. refusing to permit the Uptons or other persons with disabilities, at their own expense, to make reasonable modifications so as to provide the Uptons or persons with disabilities full and equal access to any rental properties owned or managed by the defendants; and
    5. refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules and policies so as to provide the Uptons or other persons with disabilities full and equal access to any rental properties owned or managed by the defendants;
  3. Awards such damages, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c) and 3614(d)(1)(B), as will fully compensate each person aggrieved by the defendants' discriminatory housing practices, including Randy and Tara Upton, for any and all injury occasioned by defendants' denial of equal housing opportunity; and
  4. Awards punitive damages, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c) and 3614(d)(1)(B), to each person aggrieved by defendants' discriminatory housing practices, including Randy and Tara Upton, because of the intentional and willful nature of the defendants' conduct.
  5. Assesses a civil penalty against the defendants 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 this __ day of March, 2000.


JOHN ASHCROFT
Attorney General

FRANCES HULIN
United States Attorney
Central District of Illinois

WILLIAM R. YEOMANS
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

GERALD BROST
Assistant United States Attorney
Central District of Illinois
211 Fulton Street, Suite 400
Peoria, IL 61602
Tel: (309) 671-7050
Fax: (309) 671-7259

JOAN A. MAGAGNA, Chief
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

TIMOTHY J.MORAN
Deputy Chief
MING-YEUN MEYER-FONG
Trail Attorney
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
Tel: (202) 305-1311
Fax: (202) 514-1116

Document Filed: March 31, 2000. > >

Updated August 6, 2015

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