Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

R. Alexander Acosta
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

Steven H. Rosenbaum
Chief
Keisha Dawn Bell
Deputy Chief
Kenneth D. Johnson
Trial Attorney
(D.C. St. Bar No. 428458)
Housing and Civil
Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
202-514-6781
202-514-1116 (fax)
Daniel G. Bogden
United States Attorney
Greg Addington
Assistant United States Attorney
(Nev. St. Bar. No. 6875)
100 W. Liberty Street, Ste. 600
Reno, NV 89501
775-784-5438
775-784-5181 (fax)
Attorneys for Plaintiff

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEVADA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,                                     C. A. No.____________________

          Plaintiff,

v.

SHARLANDS TERRACE LLC; JEFF CODEGA
PLANNING AND DESIGN, INC.; JAMES
TIBBENS DBA SAN JOAQUIN DESIGN
GROUP; BLATT DEVELOPMENT OF
NEVADA, INC.; WINDGATE                                             COMPLAINT
APARTMENTS LP; 1930 WRIGHT
STREET LLC; 5311 COLLEGE OAK
DRIVE LLC; 3859 ANNADALE LANE LLC;
SHARLANDS TERRACE
APARTMENTS I, LLC; and SHARLANDS
TERRACE APARTMENTS II, LLC,

Defendants.

__________________________________________

The United States of America alleges:

1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619. It is brought on behalf of the Silver State Fair Housing Council, Inc. ("SSFHC"), pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), as well as pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).

Jurisdiction and Venue

2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).

3. Venue is proper because the claims alleged in this action arose within the County of Washoe, Nevada in the District of Nevada, and concern or otherwise relate to real properties located therein.

The Property

4. The Sharlands Terrace Apartments is a 304-unit, two-story, residential dwelling complex located at 6400 Sharlands Avenue, in Reno, Nevada. The Sharlands Terrace Apartments consists of 21 multifamily, non-elevator buildings, each with more than four units. It contains 152 ground floor units, as well as public and common use areas, including parking areas, sidewalks, garbage receptacles, a combined leasing office/clubhouse building with a men's toilet room and showers, a women's toilet room and showers, a fitness center, a business center, a pool and spa. Each ground-floor unit at the Sharlands Terrace Apartments was designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 13, 1991.

5. The apartment complex described in paragraph 4 is a "dwelling" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b). Each ground-floor unit is a "covered multifamily dwelling" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(7)(A). These ground-floor units are subject to the design and construction requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).

The Defendants

6. Defendant Sharlands Terrace LLC, a Nevada limited liability company, is the original owner, developer and manager of the Sharlands Terrace Apartments. In its capacity as developer, Sharlands Terrace LLC was responsible for the design and/or construction of the Sharlands Terrace Apartments.

7. Defendant Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., a Nevada corporation, provided civil engineering services and in that capacity was responsible for the design and/or construction of the Sharlands Terrace Apartments.

8. Defendant James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group is an architect licenced in California and in that capacity was responsible for the design and/or construction of the Sharlands Terrace Apartments.

9. Defendant Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc., a Nevada corporation, served as the builder and in that capacity was responsible for the design and/or construction of the Sharlands Terrace Apartments.

10. On or about January 7, 2004, Sharlands Terrace LLC sold the Sharlands Terrace Apartments to: Windgate Apartments LP, a California limited partnership; 1930 Wright Street LLC, a California limited liability company; 5311 College Oak Drive LLC, a California limited liability company; 3859 Annadale Lane LLC, a California limited liability company; Sharlands Terrace Apartments I, LLC, a Nevada limited liability company; and Sharlands Terrace Apartments II, LLC, a Nevada limited liability company. As the current owners of the Sharlands Terrace Apartments, Defendants Windgate Apartments LP, 1930 Wright Street LLC, 5311 College Oak Drive LLC, 3859 Annadale Lane LLC, Sharlands Terrace Apartments I, LLC, and Sharlands Terrace Apartments II, LLC, are each parties necessary to accord complete relief.

The Complainants

11. SSFHC is a nonprofit Nevada corporation, with its principal place of business located in Reno, Nevada. One of its specific purposes and goals is the promotion of equal opportunity in the rental of housing and the elimination of all forms of illegal housing discrimination. To this end, the activities in which SSFHC engages include, but are not limited to: (1) investigating allegations of discrimination; (2) conducting investigations of housing facilities to determine whether equal opportunity in housing is provided; (3) taking such steps as it deems necessary to assure such equal opportunity and to counteract and eliminate discriminatory housing practices; (4) providing outreach and education to the community, including housing providers and consumers, regarding fair housing; and (5) monitoring and training housing providers that have previously engaged in discriminatory housing practices.

12. Since December 2000, Paul Babiak has been a tenant at the Sharlands Terrace Apartments. Mr. Babiak has a physical impairment which substantially limits him in the major activity of walking and standing and as such is "handicapped" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h). Mr. Babiak uses a wheelchair. During an investigation conducted by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), Mr. Babiak reported that in December 2000, he requested an accessible parking space at the Sharlands Terrace Apartments. Mr. Babiak further reported that when his use of the accessible parking space was restricted by others, he contacted SSFHC. On or about October 4, 2001, with the assistance of SSFHC, Mr. Babiak sent a written letter to the Sharlands Terrace Apartments complaining that their employees and non-disabled tenants had been parking in the spaces designated for the disabled. In the letter, Mr. Babiak requested that the Sharlands Terrace Apartments: enforce their existing parking policies for the disabled; designate additional parking spaces for the disabled; and post additional signs designating parking spaces for the disabled. On or about October 18, 2001, the Sharlands Terrace Apartments issued Mr. Babiak a written parking violation notice for parking in the accessible parking space near the combined leasing office/clubhouse building.

13. On or about January 4, 2002, Mr. Babiak filed a complaint with HUD, pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a), alleging, among other things, that the Sharlands Terrace Apartments were not designed and constructed in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.

14. On or about June 25, 2002, SSFHC filed a complaint with HUD pursuant to Section 810(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a), alleging that the Sharlands Terrace Apartments were not designed and constructed in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.

15. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a), (b) & (f), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of the complaints filed by Mr. Babiak and SSFHC, 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 exists to believe that the Sharlands Terrace Apartments were not designed and constructed in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act. On or about April 21, 2004, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A).

16. On or about May 5, 2004, SSFHC 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).

17. On or about May 7, 2004, HUD's Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election of Judicial Determination and terminated the administrative proceeding on the complaints pertaining to the Sharlands Terrace Apartments filed by SSFHC and Mr. Babiak.

18. 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).

Count I

19. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 - 18.

20. Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc., have failed to design and construct the Sharlands Terrace Apartments so that:

(a) the public use and common use portions are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;

(b) doors within the ground-floor units are sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs; and

(c) the ground floor units contain the features of adaptive design, including but not limited to the following features: (i) an accessible route into and through the dwelling; (ii) light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls in accessible locations; and (iii) usable kitchens and bathrooms such that they are fully accessible and an individual using a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.

21. By their actions and conduct, Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc., have:

(a) Discriminated in the rental, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, dwellings to persons because of handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1);

(b) Discriminated against persons in the terms, conditions or privileges of rental 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

(c) Failed to design and construct dwellings in compliance with the accessibility and adaptability features mandated by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C).

22. Paul Babiak, is an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and has suffered damages as a result of the conduct of Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc.

23. SSFHC, is an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and has suffered damages as a result of the conduct of Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc.

24. The discriminatory actions of Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc., were intentional, willful and taken in disregard for the rights of others.

25. As the current owners of Sharlands Terrace Apartments, Defendants Windgate Apartments LP, 1930 Wright Street LLC, 5311 College Oak Drive LLC, 3859 Annadale Lane LLC, Sharlands Terrace Apartments I, LLC, and Sharlands Terrace Apartments II, LLC, control access to the individual dwelling units and the public and common use areas and are necessary parties for complete relief.

Count II

26. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 - 25.

27. The conduct and actions of Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc., constitute:

(a) A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619; and

(b) A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619, which denial raises an issue of general public importance.

28. Upon information and belief, there may be other persons who are aggrieved persons, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). Such persons may have suffered damages as a result of the conduct of Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc.

29. The discriminatory actions of Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc., were intentional, willful and taken in disregard for the rights of others.

30. As the current owners of Sharlands Terrace Apartments, Defendants Windgate Apartments LP, 1930 Wright Street LLC, 5311 College Oak Drive LLC, 3859 Annadale Lane LLC, Sharlands Terrace Apartments I, LLC, and Sharlands Terrace Apartments II, LLC, control access to the individual dwelling units and the public and common use areas and are necessary parties for complete relief.

Prayer for Relief

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an order that:

1. Declares that the policies and practices of Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc., as alleged herein, violate the Fair Housing Act;

2. Declares that Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc., have engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act and have denied rights under the Fair Housing Act to a group of persons raising an issue of public importance;

3. Enjoins Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group, Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc., Windgate Apartments LP, 1930 Wright Street LLC, 5311 College Oak Drive LLC, 3859 Annadale Lane LLC, Sharlands Terrace Apartments I, LLC, and Sharlands Terrace Apartments II, LLC, their officers, employees, agents, successors and all other persons in active concert or participation with any of them, from:

(a) Failing or refusing to bring the covered multi-family dwelling units at the Sharlands Terrace Apartments and its public use and common use areas into compliance with 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C);

(b) Failing or refusing to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, the victims of the Defendants' unlawful practices to the position they would have been in but for the discriminatory conduct; and

(c) Designing or constructing covered multifamily dwellings in the future that do not contain the accessibility and adaptability features required by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C);

4. Awards monetary damages to all persons harmed by Defendants' discriminatory practices, including Paul Babiak and the SSFHC, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1), and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and

5. Assesses civil penalties against Defendants Sharlands Terrace LLC, Jeff Codega Planning and Design, Inc., James Tibbens dba San Joaquin Design Group and Blatt Development of Nevada, Inc., in amounts authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), in order to vindicate the public interest.

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

John Ashcroft
Attorney General ______________________________
R. Alexander Acosta
Assistant Attorney General

Daniel G. Bogden
United States Attorney
District of Nevada _______________________
Greg Addington
Assistant U.S. Attorney
100 W. Liberty Street
Suite 600
Reno, Nevada 89501
775-784-5438
775-784-5181 (fax)
______________________________
Steven H. Rosenbaum
Chief
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section ______________________________
Keisha Dawn Bell
Deputy Chief
Kenneth D. Johnson
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement
Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
202-514-6781 202-514-1116 (fax)

Document Filed: June 4, 2004. > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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