UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
JAVIER VILLEGAS and
Defendants.COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES AND OTHER
RELIEF UNDER THE FAIR HOUSING ACT
The United States, by its attorney, DAVID C. IGLESIAS, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico (HOWARD R. THOMAS, Assistant United States Attorney) for its complaint states:
1. This action is brought by the United States to enforce 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.
2. This court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(b)(2). Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).
3. Defendant Javier Villegas is a resident of 312 ½ Clark SW, Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the District of New Mexico.
4. Defendant Jose Villegas is a resident of 312 ½ Clark SW, Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the District of New Mexico, and is the adult son of defendant Javier Villegas.
5. The mobile home trailer located at 4019 Broadway Boulevard, SE in Albuquerque, New Mexico is a "dwelling" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
6. On July 27, 2001, Paula Ramirez and Efren Perchez ("complainants") filed administrative complaints with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") on behalf of themselves and their three minor children, alleging that defendants Javier and Jose Villegas discriminated against them by sexually harassing complainant Paula Ramirez, in violation of sections 804(a) and 818 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a) and 3617. HUD Case No. 06-01-0770-8. The complaints state that on May 1, 2001, Paula Ramirez, her partner Efren Perchez and their three children moved into a trailer, owned by defendant Javier Villegas, under a month-to-month lease. The complaints state that over the next few days, defendants Javier and Jose Villegas (Javier Villegas's adult son) made sexual comments and advances to complainant Paula Ramirez, which she rebuffed. On the night of May 6, 2001, defendant Jose Villegas allegedly came to the trailer, threatened to burn it down with everyone inside and assaulted complainant Efren Perchez. The complaints further state that, fearing that Mr. Villegas would make good on his threat to burn down the trailer, the Ramirez/Perchez family gathered all its belongings and fled the trailer that night, climbing over a fence and walking a mile and a half to a friend's house.
7. After Paula Ramirez and Efren Perchez filed their administrative complaints but before HUD issued a determination of reasonable cause or a charge of discrimination, the parties entered into a Conciliation Agreement through the HUD conciliation process as provided for in 42 U.S.C. § 3610. That Agreement, attached as Exhibit A, became effective on April 26, 2002, when it was approved by HUD.
8. The Conciliation Agreement requires the defendants to pay the complainants $1,500.00, by check payable to the Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque Trust Fund and mailed to HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in Fort Worth, Texas.
9. Complainants are not required to take any action under the Conciliation Agreement, other than to waive, release and covenant not to sue defendants with respect to any matters which were or might have been alleged as charges filed with HUD, subject to defendants' performance of their obligations under the Conciliation Agreement.
10. The Conciliation Agreement provides that the Secretary of HUD will determine whether defendants have complied with the terms of the Agreement.
11. On April 25, 2002, HUD received a check from defendants, post-dated for April 26, 2002, which it forwarded to the complainants' attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque. On June 4, 2002, complainants' attorney informed HUD that the defendants' check had been returned for insufficient funds.
12. On July 2, 2002, HUD's Southwest Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office sent demand letters to Javier and Jose Villegas notifying them of the breach of the Conciliation Agreement and requesting that they send a money order or certified check within ten days of the date of the letter. HUD received no response from the defendants.
13. Accordingly, on October 31, 2002, the Secretary referred the matter to the Attorney General for enforcement of the Conciliation Agreement, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(c) and 3614(b)(2).
14. Complainants Paula Ramirez and Efren Perchez are "aggrieved persons" as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered injuries as a result of defendants' breach of the Conciliation Agreement.
15. Defendants' breach of the Conciliation Agreement was willful and in bad faith.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court:
1. Enforce the Conciliation Agreement and require that defendants immediately pay Paula Ramirez and Efren Perchez $1,500.00 by sending a certified check or money order made payable to the Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque Trust Fund to Darlene D. Freeman, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, P.O. Box 2905, Fort Worth, Texas 76113-2905, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(A);
2. Enjoin defendants from violating the Fair Housing Act so as to assure the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Act, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(A);
3. Award compensatory and punitive damages to Paula Ramirez and Efren Perchez, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
4. Assess a civil penalty against defendants Javier and Jose Villegas 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.
Document Filed: January 28, 2003 > >