On July 20, 2007, the Court granted the United States' motion for leave to file an amicus brief in Albanian Associated Fund, Inc. v. Township of Wayne (D. N.J.), a Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) case brought by plaintiffs who are seeking to construct a mosque in the Township. The Township commenced eminent domain proceedings against the Albanian Association Fund's land while its application for a conditional use permit to construct a mosque on that land was pending before the Township's Planning Board. The Township argued on summary judgment that eminent domain proceedings are not covered by RLUIPA. The Division's brief argues that the Township's commencement of eminent domain proceedings in this case constitutes the implementation of a land use regulation covered by RLUIPA.
A federal court jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania found that the defendants had discriminated against an African American couple by lying about the availability of a rental unit. However, the jury declined to award the couple any compensatory damages, even a nominal amount. The judge then refused to let the jury consider whether to grant punitive damages.
The plaintiffs appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the Civil Rights Division filed an amicus brief arguing that the judge should have allowed the jury to decide whether to award punitive damages. On March 22, 2000, the appellate court reversed the district court's judgment for the defendants by holding that "in a case alleging discrimination under the Fair Housing Act the discrimination itself is the harm," and directed the district court to enter judgment for the plaintiffs and to hold a new jury trial on whether the plaintiffs should be awarded punitive damages. The Supreme Court denied certiorari on January 8, 2001.Avalon Residential Care, Homes, Inc. v. City of Dallas (N.D. Tex.)
Our amicus brief will oppose legal arguments made by the City of Dallas in its motion for summary judgment. The United States argue that the City violated the Fair Housing Act by improperly denying a reasonable accommodation when it refused to grant the plaintiff a variance to the City's 1000 foot spacing requirement and six person occupancy limit for group homes serving persons with disabilities.Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. v. Rommel Builders, Inc. (D. Md.)
The United States filed two amicus briefs in this case, brought by private plaintiffs. They had claimed that a condominium complex in Anne Arundel County, Maryland violated the Fair Housing Act by failing to be designed and constructed so that it is accessible and usable by persons with disabilities. In our first brief, we set forth the standard for determining whether the defendants had violated the accessibility provisions of the Act. In our second brief, we presented the court with our views as to what equitable remedies are appropriate in a case in which the defendants have been found liable for violating the accessibility provisions of the Fair Housing Act.
On April 21, 2000, the court granted the plaintiffs' request for both monetary damages and equitable relief. In its opinion, the court found that "affirmative action relief in the form of retrofitting or a retrofitting fund is an appropriate remedy in this case." Accordingly, the court ordered the establishment of a fund of approximately $333,000 to pay for the cost of retrofitting the common areas of the condominium and, with the consent of individual owners, interiors of inaccessible units. Individuals seeking to retrofit their units will be entitled to receive an incentive payment of $3,000 to do so. Although the condominium association was not found liable for the violations, the court ordered it to permit the retrofitting of the common areas. The court will also appoint a special master to oversee the retrofitting project, and retains jurisdiction until all funds have been expended or distributed. If any funds remain unspent, the court noted that "the equitable principles and the purposes" of the Fair Housing will guide the distribution of those funds.Cason v. Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation (M.D. Tenn.)
The United States filed an amicus curiae brief in support of plaintiffs in Cason v. Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation (M.D. Tenn.). In this case, plaintiffs allege that defendant's practice of permitting Nissan dealers to set finance charges at their discretion resulted in African-Americans paying higher finance charges, and that these higher charges could not be explained by non-discriminatory factors. In our amicus brief in support of plaintiffs' opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment, we argue that a lender has a non-delegable duty to comply with ECOA, and, thus, is liable under ECOA for discriminatory pricing in loans that it approves and funds. The United States further argue that plaintiffs do not need to prove that defendant was on notice regarding the alleged discrimination, but that, in any case, plaintiffs have offered evidence that defendant was on notice.
The court subsequently denied summary judgement for the defendants, and the case is currently on appeal regarding class certification.Domino's Pizza LLC (N.C.)
The United States announced an agreement reached with Domino's Pizza, Inc. under which Domino's adopted a Limited Delivery Services Policy. The United States had received a complaint that Domino's policy of providing only limited pizza delivery in certain geographical areas had a discriminatory effect on African Americans in the more than 650 corporate stores and 3,900 franchise stores throughout the country. The policy provides guidelines by which store managers can limit delivery in certain geographical areas. Under the policy, Domino's stores may limit delivery services in specific areas where there is evidence that the safety of delivery drivers is threatened by current criminal activity in the area. The policy recommends that Domino's stores consult with local law enforcement, as well as businesses and community organizations, to determine the gravity of safety concerns and the need to limit delivery services. The scope of any delivery limitations by Domino's stores must be narrowly confined to the area in which safety is a concern. Store managers also must conduct an annual review of any decision to limit delivery to determine if the threat to safety is still present or if the delivery limitation may be lifted. Domino's Director of Safety and Security will review decisions by corporate stores to limit delivery.
On July 1, 2008, the court accepted for filing the United States' amicus brief in Equal Rights Center v. AvalonBay Communities (D. Md.), a Fair Housing Act pattern or practice design and construction case. The Defendant has moved to dismiss part of ERC's complaint, arguing that relief for properties completed more than two years before the complaint was filed is barred by the statute of limitations. The Division argues that the statute of limitations does not bar ERC from seeking relief for these properties.
On February 28, 2003, the United States entered into a settlement agreement with F & K Management, Inc., d/b/a Hard Times Cafes and Santa Fe Cue Clubs, to resolve a complaint brought to the attention of the Division's National Origin Working Group (NOWG) by the Sikh Coalition, a national Sikh advocacy group. The Coalition reported that on September 23, 2001, a young Indian-American Sikh was told by a manager to remove his turban or leave at its Springfield, Virginia club. The Division's investigation revealed that F & K had promulgated and posted a policy in its clubs prohibiting head coverings with the exception of cowboy hats and baseball caps. Pursuant to the agreement, F & K rescinded its head covering policy and replaced it with a dress code approved by the United States, posted nondiscrimination signs at the five (5) establishments it owns and/or operates, agreed to place periodic nondiscrimination ads in the Washington Post and local and national Sikh and Muslim publications over a 3-year period, and arranged for periodic training of its owners and employees by Sikh and Islamic organizations over the three-year term of the agreement. In addition, F & K's owner wrote a formal letter of apology to the complainant and provided free dinner and pool playing privileges for use by him, his family and friends.First Boston Real Estate (Okla.)
The United States signed a settlement agreement with a real estate company settling our allegations that one of its former agents violated the Fair Housing Act by engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination in the sale of a dwelling.
The settlement agreement obligates the real estate company, First Boston Real Estate, to implement a non-discriminatory policy, which will be displayed in its offices and distributed to any persons who inquire about the availability of any properties, as well as to all agents. There are reporting requirements and the Metropolitan Fair Housing Council of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma will receive $3,000.00 in compensatory damages.Groome and United States v. Jefferson Parrish, (E.D. La.)
In June 1999, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana held that Jefferson Parish violated the Fair Housing Act when it refused to permit the operation of a group residence for five adults with Alzheimer's Disease. The Parish zoning ordinance required the group home provider to seek an accommodation to house five persons instead of the permitted four. The court held that the Parish broke the law when it failed to act on the request because of opposition from neighborhood residents and a member of the Parish Board.
The Parish has appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, arguing that the Fair Housing Act protections for persons with disabilities are unconstitutional. The Civil Rights Division has intervened and filed a brief arguing that Congress had power to pass the legislation under both the Commerce Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The United States also filed an amicus brief in the district court.
On November 20, 2000, a unanimous three-judge panel joined three other Courts of Appeal holding that the Commerce Clause authorizes Congress to regulate the housing market.Hamad, et al. v. Woodcrest Condominiums Association, et al. (E.D. Mich.)
On November 5, 2003, the United States filed an amicus brief in Hamad v. Woodcrest Condominiums Association, et al. (E.D. Mich.), a private Fair Housing Act case alleging familial status discrimination. In its brief, the United States argues that defendants' former policy of restricting families with children to first floor units violates the Act as a matter of law. The United States had also filed an amicus brief in January 2001, taking the same position.
In February, 2002, the United States had entered into a settlement agreement with the defendants rescission of association bylaws restricting families with children to first floor units in the three story complex. The agreement also provides for rescission of condominium rules restricting the conduct of children in the common areas, fair housing training of association board members and employees and notification to the public of the association's change in policies.
The plaintiffs in the action were a young couple steered to a first floor unit because they planned to have children and a single woman in the process of obtaining custody of her minor nephew who was denied permission to live with her nephew in her third floor unit.Hargraves v. Capitol City Mortgage Corp. (D.D.C.)
In this lawsuit against Capital City Mortgage Corp. and its president and Thomas Nash, private plaintiffs contend that the company targeted minorities for loans that were designed to fail, due to unfair payment terms and income levels of the borrowers that would not sustain the loan payments. In their complaint, the plaintiffs claim that Capital City's lending practices violated several federal laws, including the Fair Housing and the Equal Credit Opportunity Acts by engaging in a pattern or practice of targeting African American communities, a practice known as "reverse redlining," for abusive or predatory lending practices. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that reverse redlining does not violate either law because they have provided credit to African Americans, and on the same terms that they would provide to whites. The United States filed an amicus brief, which supported the view that lending practices designed to induce minorities into loans destined to fail could violate the fair lending laws.
Our brief argues that by targeting minorities for predatory loans, a lender discriminates in the terms and conditions of home financing, even if it makes all or most of its loans in minority areas. The fact that a lender does business only in minority neighborhoods does not shield its business from scrutiny under federal fair lending laws. In addition, racially targeted loans that are designed to fail make housing unavailable because of race since the borrowers are likely to lose their homes through foreclosure.
The Federal Trade Commission has filed a separate action charging the same defendants with violating a number of federal consumer protection laws. FTC v. Capital City Mortgage Corp., No. 98-237 (JHG/AK) (D.D.C. filed Jan. 29, 1998). Both matters are still pending.
In consolidated cases brought by the United States and Louisiana ACORN Fair Housing and Gene Lewis, plaintiffs alleged that the defendant, the owner and operator of an apartment complex in Lake Charles, Louisiana, intentionally discriminated on the basis of race against Gene Lewis when he refused to rent him a studio apartment. On September 15, 1998, the jury found liability against Danny LeBlanc and awarded Gene Lewis no compensatory damages, but $10,000 in punitive damages. LeBlanc appealed the judgment, arguing that Lewis' punitive damages award should be vacated because the jury awarded him neither compensatory nor nominal damages.
The Civil Rights Division filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit arguing that the Fair Housing Act permits an award of punitive damages in the absence of compensatory or nominal damages, and that the district court had properly entered judgment in accordance with the jury's verdict awarding punitive damages to Gene Lewis. On May 15, 2000, the Fifth Circuit reversed and vacated the jury's punitive damages award to Gene Lewis, holding that a plaintiff suing under the Fair Housing Act may not receive punitive damages absent an award of compensatory or nominal damages. The Supreme Court denied certiorari on March 5, 2001.Marriott International Settlement
On August 15, 2002, the Department of Justice entered into settlement agreement with Marriott International and the Midwest Federation of American Syrian-Lebanese Clubs to resolve allegations that the Des Moines, Iowa Marriott, which is managed by Marriott International, discriminated against the Midwest Federation on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, when it revoked its previous offer to host the 2002 annual convention of the Midwest Federation. Under the agreement, Marriott agreed to pay $100,000 to establish a scholarship fund to be administered by the Midwest Federation, to pay $15,000 to be a corporate sponsor of the Midwest Federation's 2002 annual convention, and to issue a formal written apology to the Midwest Federation for its conduct in canceling the convention.
On September 5, 2001, Marriott had faxed a signed contract to the Midwest Federation for its signature agreeing to host the Midwest Federation's 2002 convention at the Des Moines Marriott from August 8 through August 10, 2002. In addition to using at least 60 sleeping rooms during the three-day convention, the contract also stated that the Midwest Federation would use the hotel's meeting rooms, restaurants and hold two dinner-dances in the hotel ballroom. On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, Marriott revoked its offer to the Midwest Federation and repeatedly refused to reconsider its decision in the week following September 11th.
The Justice Department's investigation was conducted under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, and religion in places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants and places of entertainment. This is the first case matter resolved by the Department's Housing and Civil Enforcement Section involving post-September 11th discrimination against Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian Americans.
On February 15, 2007, a federal court in Memphis approved a consent decree resolving Memphis Center for Independent Living and United States v. Grant, et al. (W.D. Tenn.). The Department's suit, which was filed on November 6, 2001, joined a case filed on January 25, 2001, by the Memphis Center for Independent Living ("MCIL"), a disability rights organization, alleging that the defendants failed to design and construct the Wyndham Apartments in Memphis and Camden Grove Apartments in Cordova, Tennessee, with required features for people with disabilities. The consent decree requires the Richard and Milton Grant Company, its principals and affiliated entities, and their architects and engineers, to retrofit apartments and public and common use areas at the two complexes, and to provide accessible pedestrian routes from front entrances of ground floor units to public streets and on-site amenities. The defendants must establish a Community Retrofit Fund of $320,000, administered by the MCIL, to enable qualified individuals in Shelby County, Tennessee, to modify residential dwellings to increase their accessibility to persons with disabilities. The defendants also are required to pay $10,000 in compensatory damages to the MCIL and $110,000 in civil penalties to the government, and to undergo training on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The consent decree will remain in effect for three years.Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council v. Gundacker Real Estate, Co. (E.D. Mo.)
In this case, the defendants filed a motion to exclude the testing evidence and to exclude expert testimony. The court ordered a hearing on the admissibility of testing evidence and the plaintiff's experts. In the order, the court noted that the defendant challenged "the methodology by which [the fair housing] tests were compiled and the lack of supporting data to show that the tests may have some scientific validity." The United States filed an amicus brief on the question of whether testing evidence is subject to any special review before they can be admitted into evidence. The United States argue that testing results are factual evidence, not opinion or expert testimony and, therefore, should be admitted.
The United States signed a modification agreement with Pulte Home Corporation (Pulte) to supplement and amend a Settlement Agreement we previously entered into with Pulte in July 1998. The 1998 settlement agreement resolved the United States' allegations that Pulte had failed to design and construct certain developments in Florida, Illinois, and Virginia to be accessible to persons with disabilities as required by the Fair Housing Act. The Modification Agreement covers three additional properties in Las Vegas, Nevada, and includes provisions requiring Pulte to annually notify current owners, for a period of three years, of their option to have Pulte retrofit their units at no expense to them in order to bring them in compliance with the Act, as well as to report to the United States the names and addresses of those persons who elect to have their units retrofitted.complaint joined the private plaintiff, a nonprofit corporation, in alleging that the City violated the Fair Housing Act when it refused them permission to operate a residential facility for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. In 2000, the District Court granted the City's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the action. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed, agreeing with the complainants that the District Court applied the wrong legal standard. The Second Circuit decision is reported as Regional Economic Community Action Program, Inc. v. City of Middletown, 294 F.3d 35 (2d Cir. 2002). Private plaintiffs subsequently reached a settlement with the City. The Division agreed to dismissal of our complaint in order to facilitate the settlement. The case was handled primarily by the United States Attorney's office. Sherman Avenue Tenants' Association, et al. v. District of Columbia, et al. (D.D.C.)
The United States filed an amicus curiae brief in an action brought by four tenant associations against the District of Columbia for selective and discriminatory code enforcement in the Columbia Heights area on the basis of national origin in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The District argued that because the District is neither a "provider of housing" nor a "municipal service provider," it cannot be held liable under Sections 3604(a) and (b) of the Act. The United States' amicus brief in opposition to the District's Motion to Dismiss argued that the District's alleged actions of closing and/or threatening to close buildings in areas of the District with high concentrations of Latinos and Vietnamese makes housing unavailable. Finally, the United States argued that the tenant associations have standing to bring a claim on their own behalf, as well as on behalf of their members.Syringa Property Management, Inc.
The United States and the Intermountain Fair Housing Council (IFHC) entered into a settlement agreement with Syringa Property Management, Inc., resolving the IFHC's allegations that Syringa had, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, required disabled tenants to pay deposits in order to keep service or support animals in apartments managed by Syringa. Under the settlement agreement, Syringa will not charge deposits or fees to disabled tenants in connection with the maintenance of service or support animals.Settlement Agreement U.S. and Tiberti-Blood, Inc., John David Burke, L.R. Nelson Civil Engineers, and the Spanish Gardens Condominiums Homeowners Association
On April 1, 2003, the United States entered into a Settlement Agreement with the developer, architect, site engineer, and homeowners association of Spanish Gardens Condominiums (respondents) in suburban Las Vegas, Nevada. As reflected in the agreement, the respondents failed to design and construct 112 ground-level units and various public and common use areas of the Spanish Gardens Condominiums, a/k/a Desert Lion Condominiums, to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Previous to the signing of the Agreement, the respondents had already retrofitted a portion of the common use and public areas at an approximate cost of $35,000. Pursuant to the Settlement Agreement, the respondents will within 60 days of the Agreement, submit a plan for completion of the remaining required retrofits to the common areas, for approval by the Division. Additionally, the respondents will create an $11,000 fund for use by any homeowner to retrofit the interior of his or her unit. After an initial notice, owners shall receive additional notices of the opportunity to retrofit their units, at no cost to them, on an annual basis for three years. The respondents shall also report information regarding future design or construction of multi-family housing and certify to the Department that such design or construction fully complies with the Act.
This matter was referred to the Division by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).Thomas v. Anchorage Equal Rights Commission (9th Cir.)
Two landlords whose religious beliefs prevented them from renting housing to unmarried couples filed a federal action asking the court to find that any enforcement against them of Alaska or Anchorage laws prohibiting discrimination in housing on the basis of marital status would violate their rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the statutes substantially burdened the landlords' religious beliefs and that the government had no compelling interest in prohibiting marital status discrimination in housing, and affirmed the district court's order prohibiting the State and the City from enforcing the laws against the landlords.
The United States filed an amicus brief when the court of appeals withdrew the panel opinion and decided to rehear the case en banc. The United States argued that the Alaska and Anchorage statutes are neutral and generally applicable exercises of the police power, and that the landlords in these appeals have failed to show "colorable" claims under the Takings Clause or Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The en banc court held that the landlords' claim was not ripe, and dismissed the action.
In October, 2000, the landlord-plaintiffs filed a petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, arguing that they had met the standing and ripeness requirements of Article III of the United States Constitution. In February 2001, the Supreme Court denied the landlords' petition.Trop Edmond, L.P., et al. (Nev.)
The United States entered into a settlement agreement with Trop-Edmond, L.P.; Trail Properties, Inc.; and Danielian Associates (respondents), thereby resolving the United States' claims that respondents discriminated on the basis of disability by failing to design and construct units at West Trop Condominiums in Las Vegas, Nevada, to make them accessible to persons with disabilities. This case was referred to the Division by HUD as a pattern or practice case. After respondents were contacted by HUD regarding a complaint of design and construction deficiencies, respondents took corrective actions at an approximate cost of $41,000. Under the terms of the settlement, respondents Trop-Edmond, L.P. and Trail Properties, Inc. will donate $5000 to an organization in Nevada that serves the housing needs of persons with disabilities. Respondent Danielian will conduct annual in-house training for a period of three years to its employees involved in the design of multi-family dwellings.
On September 8, 2004, the Court entered a consent order resolving Trujillo v. Board of Directors of Triumvera Tower Condominium Association, et al. (N.D. Ill.). The United States' complaint alleged the condominium association engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of disability when they established a written policy prohibiting persons in wheelchairs from using the front door to the condominium building and when they applied that policy to a ten-year-old boy who uses a wheelchair who lives in the building.
The consent order requires the defendants to: pay $70,000 to the Trujillo family; admit that their actions violated the Fair Housing Act; issue a letter of apology; pay $10,000 to the widow of a Triumvera resident who used a wheelchair during the last years of his life, and pay a $3,500 civil penalty. The consent order also requires the president of the association's board of directors to resign, issue new by-laws, and require training of its members on the provisions of the Fair Housing Act.
The Trujillos' filed a lawsuit in this matter in March, 2004. The United States filed a Complaint-in-Intervention May 19, 2004.
On May 13, 2008, District Judge Alan H. Nevas denied plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in Turning Point Foundation v. DeStefano (D. Conn.). This is a Fair Housing Act disability discrimination case filed by the owners of two recovery houses for people with addictions, who allege that the city of New Haven failed to make a reasonable accommodation by allowing more than eight to ten persons to reside in the houses. The Division had filed a brief as amicus curiae to address legal issues raised by defendants, without taking a position on the merits of the summary judgment motion. The court's opinion found that there are material issues of fact in dispute, without addressing any of the contested legal issues.complaint in United States v. 75 Main Ave. Owners Corp. (EDNY). The complaint to alleged that the defendants refused to allow a 90-year old resident with depression to keep an emotional support animal. This election case referral from HUD will be litigated by the U.S. Attorneyç´ Office.
On September 28, 2007, the United States filed a complaint and a proposed consent order in United States v. Adams (W.D. Ark.). The complaint alleges a pattern or practice of discrimination and a denial of rights to a group of persons on the basis of familial status by the owners and management of Phoenix Village Apartments, located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Under the terms of the consent order, which was entered by the court on October 1, 2007, the defendants will pay up to $165,000 to compensate victims and $20,000 in civil penalties to the United States. The consent order also calls for injunctive relief, including training, a nondiscrimination policy, record keeping and monitoring. The consent order will remain in effect for four years.
This case was based on evidence developed through the Division's testing program.
On July 2, 2003, the Court entered the Consent Decree in United States v. ADI Management, Inc. (E.D.N.Y.). The United States Attorney's Office brought this action on behalf of the estate of Hillary Smith, who lived at the subject property until she died from metastatic breast cancer at the age of 34. The complaint, filed on June 5, 2002, alleged that the defendants, the owner and property management company of an apartment complex in Jamaica Estates, Queens, violated the Fair Housing Act when they failed to make a reasonable accommodation to their no-pets rule to allow Ms. Smith to keep an emotional support dog in her unit, and instead served her with eviction notices. The Division alleged that Ms. Smith was suffering from anxiety and depression, caused by being mobility-impaired due to the cancer. The Consent Decree requires defendants to pay $11,000 in damages to the estate of Ms. Smith. The Decree also enjoins the defendants from: violating the Fair Housing Act on the basis of disability in the future; requires them to adopt specific guidelines for assessing requests for reasonable accommodations; and requires the president of the property management company to attend a fair housing training program. The Consent Decree will remain in effect for three years.
The case was referred to the Division after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a complaint, conducted an investigation and issued a charge of discrimination.complaint in United States v. Henry Billingsley, et al. (E.D. Tex.), a Fair Housing Act referral from HUD alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. The complaint alleges that the members of the zoning committee and property owners of Air Park Estates, in Collin County, Texas, violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow the complainant to keep a footbridge in front of her house. The complainant, who has a mobility disability, needs to use the bridge to reach the street without risk of injury.
In this case, the United States claimed that the bank refused to take mortgage loan applications from areas in Connecticut and Westchester County, New York with significant minority populations. The bank could provide no reason for carving out areas with large concentrations of minority individuals from its lending areas. The United States resolved this matter on August 13, 1997, with a consent decree, which required the bank to provide $55 million in loans at below market rates to the areas that it refused to service previously and to implement a non-discriminatory lending policy.
The United States' complaint, filed on January 19, 2001, alleges that a developer and an architect failed to design and construct a 226-unit apartment complex in Greenville, North Carolina, with the features of accessible and adaptable design required by the Fair Housing Act. The violations include steps into the individual units, an insufficient number of curb cuts, doors which are impassable by persons using wheelchairs, no reinforcements in the bathroom walls for the installation of grab bars, and an inaccessible rental office.
The terms of the consent decree, filed on January 25, 2001, include the following: Aldridge & Southerland Builders, Inc., the builder and developer, must: (1) retrofit the common use areas of the apartment complex; (2) ensure that at least one fully retrofitted one-bedroom unit and two-bedroom unit remain vacant and available at all times for viewing and rental by a prospective tenant who requests such a unit; (3) give notice to every prospective tenant of the availability of the fully accessible units; (4) compensate aggrieved persons up to $5,000 over any out of pocket costs suffered by such persons; and (5) include enhanced accessibility features in a portion of the units in the next two multi-family projects which they construct. Rivers & Associates, Inc., the architectural firm that designed the complex, must: (1) pay a $5,000 civil penalty; (2) donate 100-hours of technical assistance to non-profit organizations that serve the housing needs of persons with disabilities in the Greenville community; and (3) contribute to any amount paid to compensate aggrieve