Recent Accomplishments Of The Housing And Civil Enforcement Section

(Updated June 2, 2022)

The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Civil Rights Division is responsible for the Department's enforcement of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), along with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), the land use provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations.

Under the FHA, the Department of Justice may bring lawsuits where there is reason to believe that a person or entity is engaged in a "pattern or practice" of discrimination or where a denial of rights to a group of persons raises an issue of general public importance. The Department of Justice also brings cases where a housing discrimination complaint has been investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD has issued a charge of discrimination, and one of the parties to the case has "elected" to go to federal court. In FHA cases, the Department can obtain injunctive relief, including affirmative requirements for training and policy changes, monetary damages and, in pattern or practice cases, civil penalties.

Several cases we have filed or resolved recently exemplify our efforts to ensure the availability of the housing opportunities guaranteed by the Fair Housing Act. (1) The complaints and settlement documents for the cases discussed in the text, as well as other cases handled by the Housing Section, can be found on the Housing Section’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/about/hce/caselist.php.

While we endeavor to ensure that the electronic copies of court documents available on this site are complete and accurate (apart from formatting changes necessitated by the conversion to HTML or PDF format), errors or omissions may occur. The official versions of court documents are the versions available from the court.

Fair Lending
Rental and Sales Discrimination based on Race, Color, National Origin, Familial Status and Religion
Sexual Harassment
Rental and Sales Discrimination based on Disability
Design and Construction
Discriminatory Land Use and Zoning
Public Accommodations (Title II)
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

Fair Lending

  • On October 27, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Trustmark National Bank (W.D. Tenn.).  The complaint, filed on October 22, 2021, alleges that Trustmark National Bank, through its residential real estate lending-related policies and practices, engaged in a pattern or practice of redlining in the Memphis MSA in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA).  Under the consent order, the Bank will invest $3.85 million in a loan subsidy fund to increase credit opportunities for current and future residents of predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the Memphis area; dedicate at least four mortgage loan officers or community lending specialists to those neighborhoods; and open a loan production office in a majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhood in Memphis. Trustmark will also devote $400,000 to developing community partnerships to provide services to residents of majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Memphis to increase access to residential mortgage credit and spend at least $200,000 per year for five years on advertising, outreach, consumer financial education and credit repair initiatives in and around Memphis.
     
  • On August 31, 2021, the court approved the entry of a consent order resolving all claims in United States v. Cadence Bank, N.A. (N.D. Ga.).  On August 30, 2021, the United States filed the complaint and proposed consent order.  The complaint alleged that, from 2013 to 2017, Cadence engaged in unlawful redlining in the Houston area by avoiding providing credit services to predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods because of the race, color, and national origin of the people living in those neighborhoods.  The department also alleged that Cadence’s branches were concentrated in majority-white neighborhoods, that the bank’s loan officers did not serve the credit needs of majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, and that the bank’s outreach and marketing avoided those neighborhoods.  Under the consent order, the Bank will invest $4.17 million in a loan subsidy fund for residents of predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the Houston area, $750,000 for development of community partnerships to provide services that increase access to residential mortgage credit in those neighborhoods, and at least $625,000 for advertising, outreach, consumer financial education, and credit repair initiatives.  Cadence will also dedicate at least four mortgage loan officers to majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Houston and open a new branch in one of those neighborhoods.
     
  • On September 11, 2020, the court entered the proposed consent order in United States v. Bank of America (E.D.N.Y.). The complaint,  which was filed on July 23, 2020, alleges that Bank of America discriminated on the basis of disability, in violation of the FHA, through implementation of a policy that prohibited the issuance of mortgage loans to adults who had legal guardians or conservators.  The consent order requires the bank to maintain new policies that permit loans to adults with guardians or conservators, to ensure that employees are trained on the new policies, and to pay damages of $4,000 for each loan application that was denied as a result of the bank’s prior unlawful policy.
     
  • On July 2, 2020, the Court entered a consent order to resolve the United States’ allegations in United States v. Guaranteed Auto Sales (D. Md.), against a used car dealership, its owner Kelly Ann West, and its manager Robert Chesgreen.  The complaint, filed on September 30, 2019, alleges that defendants violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by offering different terms of credit based on race to customers seeking to purchase and finance used cars in Glen Burnie, Maryland.  The consent order requires defendants to implement a number of specific practices to ensure that loan terms are offered to customers on a nondiscriminatory basis, including developing written policies to govern financing decisions, posting and distributing nondiscrimination notices to potential purchasers, attending training on the requirements of the Equal Opportunity Act, and engaging in ongoing record keeping and reporting to the United States.  The lawsuit is based on the results of testing conducted by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as prospective car buyers to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.  The complaint alleges that defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by offering less favorable auto loan terms to African American testers than white testers, including by telling African American testers that they needed larger down payments than white testers for the same used cars, and telling African American testers that they were required to fund their down payments in one lump sum, while they gave white testers an option of paying in two installments.

  • On August 12, 2019, the court approved the entry of settlement agreement and agreed order resolving United States v. First Merchants Bank (S.D. Ind.). On June 13, 2019, the United States filed the complaint and proposed settlement. The complaint alleged that from 2011 to at least 2017, First Merchants violated the Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act on the basis of race by engaging in unlawful redlining in Indianapolis by intentionally avoiding predominantly African-American neighborhoods. The Department’s complaint also alleges that First Merchants adopted a residential mortgage lending policy that had the effect of denying residents of predominantly African-American neighborhoods equal access to credit in violation of federal law.  Under the settlement, the Bank will invest $1.12 million in a loan subsidy fund to increase credit opportunities to residents of predominantly African-American neighborhoods, and will devote $500,000 toward advertising, community outreach, and credit repair and education. First Merchants will also open a branch and loan production office to serve the banking and credit needs of residents in predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Indianapolis.
     

Rental and Sales Discrimination based on Race, Color, National Origin, Familial Status and Religion:

  • On May 27, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Crimson Management, LLC, Benefield Housing Partnership d/b/a Cedartown Commons, and Cedartown Housing Association, d/b/a Cedarwood Village (N.D. Ga.). The complaint, filed on May 13, 2020, alleged that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the bases of race and color when they steered African-American housing applicants who were elderly and/or had a disability away from Cedarwood Village, a predominantly white housing complex for elderly persons and persons with disabilities, to less desirable units at Cedartown Commons, a predominantly African-American general occupancy complex. The complaint also alleged that defendants maintained and perpetuated racial segregation of the elderly and disabled population at Cedarwood Village and Cedartown Commons. The consent order requires the defendants to pay $83,000 in damages to three former tenants who were harmed as a result of the defendants’ racial steering, pay a civil penalty to the United States, implement nondiscriminatory policies and procedures, complete fair-housing training, and submit periodic reports to the Justice Department. 
     
  • On April 1, 2022, the Department filed a Statement of Interest filed in CNY Fair Housing v. Swiss Village LLC, et al. (N.D.N.Y.), a lawsuit alleging that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent apartments to applicants who are limited English proficient (LEP) unless someone who speaks and reads English lives in the unit.  The Statement of Interest explains how a restrictive language policy may violate the Fair Housing Act when it has a disparate impact or is used as a proxy or pretext for discrimination based on national origin or race, as alleged in plaintiff’s complaint. It also discusses how the plaintiff’s allegations are consistent with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Guidance on Fair Housing Act Protections for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, which clarifies how restrictive language policies may run afoul of the Fair Housing Act.
     
  • On February 28, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Orchard Village, LLC, et al. (E.D. Mo.).  The complaint, filed on May 28, 2021, alleged that the defendants discriminated against the complainants on the basis of familial status by imposing overly restrictive policies on families with children, including prohibiting children under the age of 18 from accessing the computer room, on-site movie theater, fitness center, or pool at the apartment complex without being accompanied by an adult leaseholder.  The complaint also alleges that the defendants interfered with the complainants’ fair housing rights by ejecting complainant’s 16-year-old daughter from those facilities and issuing complainants a lease violation notice and notice of eviction based in part on the daughter’s access of those amenities.  The consent order requires the defendants to pay $16,000 to the complainants and adopt new rules and policies regarding access to amenities at 24 residential rental properties that Defendants own, operate, and manage that comply with the Fair Housing Act.  The case was referred to the Division after the Department of Housing and Urban Development received a complaint, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.
     
  • On February 14, 2022, the Department filed a statement of interest in Austin, et al. v. Miller, et al. (N.D. Cal.), a private lawsuit alleging that defendants violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of race in connection to a residential home appraisal. The statement of interest explains that appraisers may be liable under the Fair Housing Act and provides guidance on pleading and proof standards for Fair Housing Act claims.
     
  • On February 1, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Bacchus (E.D. Pa.).  The complaint, which was filed on August 18, 2021, alleges that defendants discriminated on the basis of familial status and disability related to their refusal to allow the complainant, who was recovering from addiction to alcohol, to move his pregnant girlfriend and her child into his unit.  Under the consent order, the defendants will pay a total of $75,000 to the complainant and his child and take actions directed towards preventing future unlawful discrimination, including undergoing training and implementing nondiscrimination policies on the FHA in connection with the rental and management of residential properties.  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.
     
  • On January 18, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. City of Arlington (N.D. Tex.).  The complaint, filed on January 13, 2022, alleged that the City of Arlington, Texas violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by discriminating on the basis of familial status when it blocked the development of an affordable housing project for families with children that had been proposed by a developer, Community Development, Inc. (CDI), and would have been financed using federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC).  The complaint alleged that the City refused to issue a Resolution of Support or a Resolution of No Objection to CDI because the City had a policy of supporting LIHTC developments only for new senior housing intended for persons 55 years of age or older.  Under the consent order, the City will pay $395,000 in damages to CDI, maintain a non-discrimination policy for future LIHTC developments, provide Fair Housing Act training to certain city officials, and submit to compliance and reporting requirements for three years.  This 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.
     
  • On December 29, 2021, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Lone Wolf Housing Authority (W.D. Okla.).  The complaint, filed on December 15, 2020, alleged that the defendants discriminated on the basis of race in violation of the Fair Housing Act and Title VI of the of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when they rejected a housing application from complainant and her minor child on the pretext of lack of available housing and when they further misrepresented the availability of housing to a Black tester after showing numerous available units to the white companion tester.  The consent decree requires defendants to pay $75,000 in monetary damages to the complainant, her child, and the fair housing organization that conducted testing.  The Housing Authority must also implement nondiscriminatory procedures, train all employees and board members on fair housing, maintain records of applications and availability, and report to the United States on their compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree.  The case was referred to the Division after the Department of Housing and Urban Development received a complaint, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.
     
  • On September 15, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Hideaway Village Community Management Association, et al. (E.D. Tenn.).  On July 9, 2021, the United States filed the Fair Housing Act complaint and proposed consent order.  The complaint alleges that the defendants discriminated on the basis of familial status by adopting and enforcing policies and practices that prohibited children from using the community pool without adult supervision.   The consent order requires the defendants to pay $10,000 in monetary damages to the HUD complainants, attend fair housing training, and submit to other standard injunctive relief.  This 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.

  • On September 7, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Brisas del Mar Ltd Partnership, et al. (S.D. Fla.).  The Fair Housing Act complaint, which was filed on August 31, 2021, alleges that the owners and managers of a rental property in Miami, Florida discriminated on the basis of national origin when they rejected a man of Iranian descent for a unit because he was not Hispanic.  The consent order requires the defendants to pay $21,500 in damages to the HUD complainant, attend fair housing training, and submit to other standard injunctive relief.  The case was referred to the Division after the Department of Housing and Urban Development received a complaint, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.
     
  • On August 19, 2021, after a three-day jury trial on damages, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the United States in United States v. Rupp, et al. (E.D. Mo.), a Fair Housing Act (FHA) election case referred by HUD alleging that the owners of rental properties in St. Louis discriminated against the complainants, a family with children, on the basis of familial status, by terminating their lease after the birth of their second child. Specifically, the jury awarded a total of $74,400 to the complainants -- $14,400 in compensatory damages and $60,000 in punitive damages. Previously, on May 28, 2021, the court had granted the United States’ motion for summary judgment on liability and denied Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Defendants used a lease and application that stated that “no [] children” were allowed; rented an apartment to the complainants, with one minor child at the time, “on a trial basis” in light of their “no children” lease condition; and later terminated the complainants’ lease after the landlord learned they had had a second child. The court denied Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, in which they argued that the United States’ case is barred by collateral estoppel and res judicata based on prior state court actions, holding that none of the required elements for collateral estoppel were present. The court granted the United States’ motion in full, finding that Defendants’ conduct violated 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a), (b), and (c). It held that the lease termination notice, which identified the complainants’ two children as lease violations, discriminated “[o]n its face,” and therefore one Defendant’s subsequent deposition testimony about his purported non-discriminatory reasons for terminating the lease did not create a genuine dispute.
     
  • On April 5, 2021, the court entered a consent decree resolving United States v. Village Realty of Staten Island Ltd. (E.D.N.Y.). The complaint, filed on September 30, 2020, alleged that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) on the basis of race when Defendant Denis Donovan, a sales and rental agent at Village Realty, treated African-Americans who inquired about available rental units differently and less favorably than similarly-situated white persons. The complaint also alleged that Defendant Village Realty is vicariously liable for Donovan’s discriminatory conduct. The consent decree requires the defendants to adopt nondiscriminatory standards and procedures, undergo fair housing training, contribute $15,000 to a victim fund, and pay a civil penalty. The complaint was based on testing evidence developed by the Section’s Fair Housing Testing Program.
     
  • On January 25, 2021, the United States filed an amended complaint in United States v. Housing Authority of Ashland, AL (N.D. Ala.), alleging that the Ashland Housing Authority engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination and denied rights to a group of persons on the basis of race, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, by steering Black applicants away from three overwhelmingly White properties that it manages and steering White applicants away from two disproportionately Black properties that it manages, and by maintaining those properties as largely segregated.  The complaint also names the private owners and agent of one of these properties.
     
  • On December 8, 2020, the United States Attorney’s Office executed an out-of-court settlement agreement in United States v. Carmer (D. Or.).  The complaint, which was filed on August 20, 2020, alleges that the owner of a single-family home in Florence, Oregon violated the Fair Housing Act on the basis of familial status by refusing to rent the home to a woman because she would be living with her four foster grandchildren.  The settlement agreement requires the defendant to obtain fair housing training and notify the public of her non-discrimination policy.  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.
     
  • On December 4, 2020, the court entered a consent decree resolving United States v. Hawaii Student Suites (D. Haw.). The complaint, filed on September 30, 2019, alleged that the owners and managers of rental housing in Honolulu, Hawaii – Hawaii Student Suites, Inc., Hawaii Student Residences LLC d/b/a Hawaii Student Suites, Savio Hauoli Street LLC, and 258-60 Beach Walk LLC – engaged in a pattern or practice of refusing to rent to families with children, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The consent decree requires the defendants to pay $70,000 to aggrieved persons and a civil penalty of $10,000.  The defendants will also be required to adopt new policies and procedures and undergo training to avoid FHA violations in the future.
     
  • On November 12, 2020, the United States filed an election/pattern or practice complaint in United States v. SSM Properties (S.D. Miss.), alleging that the owners and managers of three apartment complexes in Pearl, Mississippi, discriminated on the basis of race by steering Black testers towards one complex and falsely representing that the other two complexes did not have vacancies.
     
  • On October 2, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Price (W.D. Va.).  The complaint, which was filed on September 29, alleges that Gary Price, the manager of residential rental properties in the Harrisonburg area of Virginia, sexually harassed female tenants and discriminated against tenants on the basis of race by, among other things, using racial slurs and excluding or attempting to exclude tenants’ guests on the basis of the guests’ race, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.  The consent decree includes provisions for compensatory damages in the amount of $330,000 for aggrieved persons and a $5,000 civil penalty.  It also includes injunctive provisions that prohibit Gary Price from being directly involved in the management of residential rental properties or  contacting former, current, or prospective tenants, and require that Defendants refrain from future discrimination on the basis of sex and race, seek dismissal or vacatur of unlawful detainer and related actions they filed against aggrieved persons and expungement of related credit reports, retain an independent manager, obtain fair housing training, maintain records, and submit reports to the United States. 
     
  • On September 10, 2020, the United States filed an amended Fair Housing Act complaint in United States v. City of Hesperia (C.D. Cal.), alleging that the City of Hesperia and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department discriminated against African American and Latino renters through the enactment and enforcement of a rental housing ordinance.  This case involves a Secretary-initiated HUD complaint that elected, as well as a pattern-or-practice and group of persons claim.  The amended complaint alleges that the City and Sheriff’s Department created and enacted the ordinance with the intent to drive African American and Latino renters out of their homes and out of Hesperia, and that the Sheriff’s Department, acting on behalf of the City, discriminatorily enforced the ordinance against African American and Latino renters and in majority-minority areas of Hesperia.  The amended complaint further alleges that the City’s discrimination against African American and Latino renters violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin.
     
  • On July 13, 2020, the court entered a proposed consent order  and order in United States v. The Pointe Apartments Owner, LP, et al. (E.D. Pa.).  The amended complaint, also filed on July 13, 2020, alleges that the defendants discriminated on the basis of familial status by adopting policies and practices that prohibited children from using amenities at the apartment complex without adult supervision.  The consent order provides for injunctive relief and monetary damages for the HUD complainant.  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.

    Sexual Harassment:
     
  • On May 23, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Goitia, et al. (S.D. Iowa).  The complaint, originally filed on June 29, 2020 and amended on November 6, 2020, alleged that the defendants, owners and property managers of several rental housing properties in Davenport, Iowa, engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of sex.  Specifically, the complaint alleged that, since at least 2010, owner/manager Juan Goitia sexually harassed numerous female tenants.  The consent order requires the defendants to pay $135,000 in monetary damages, pay a civil penalty, and, among other injunctive relief, hire an independent manager to manage any rental properties that defendants own or manage.
     
  • On May 13, 2022, the United States filed a complaint in United States v. Donahue (W.D. Wis.).  The defendants own residential rental properties in Janesville, Wisconsin, and defendant Richard “Rick” Donahue manages them.  The complaint alleges that Rick Donahue sexually harassed numerous female tenants since at least 2000 and that both defendants are liable for discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
     
  • On December 17, 2021, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Centanni (D. N.J.).  The complaint, filed on August 5, 2020, alleged that Joseph Centanni, who owned and managed hundreds of rental units in and around Elizabeth, New Jersey, violated the Fair Housing Act by engaging in a pattern or practice of sexual harassment against tenants and housing applicants since at least 2005.  Centanni’s alleged conduct included demanding sexual favors like oral sex to get or keep housing, offering housing benefits like reduced rent in exchange for sexual favors, touching tenants and applicants in a way that was sexual and unwelcome, making unwelcome sexual comments and advances to tenants and applicants, and initiating or threatening to initiate eviction actions against tenants who objected to or refused his sexual advances.  The consent decree reflects that Centanni has sold all of his residential rental properties.  Under the terms of the consent decree, Centanni is permanently enjoined from owning and managing residential rental properties in the future.  Under the consent decree, Centanni must also dismiss housing court judgments, including evictions, obtained in proceedings deemed to be retaliatory and take steps to repair the credit of any affect tenants.  Under the terms of the consent decree, Centanni will pay $4,392,950 in monetary damages to tenants and prospective tenants harmed by his harassment and a $107,050 civil penalty to the United States.
     
  • On December 13, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Whitescarver (W.D. Ky.).  The complaint, filed on April 1, 2020, alleged that Gordon Whitescarver subjected multiple female tenants to sexual harassment and retaliation.   According to the complaint, he made repeated and unwelcome sexual comments, entered the homes of female tenants without their consent, touched female tenants without their consent, requested sexual acts, offered reduced rent or free rent in exchange for sexual acts, and took adverse housing-related action against female tenants who refused his sexual advances.  The complaint also alleged that Betsy Whitescaver, Gordon Whitescarver’s wife, threatened and retaliated against women who complained about her husband’s harassment.  The consent order requires the Whitescarvers to pay $220,000 to 11 women who are current or former tenants who were harmed by the Whitescarvers’ discriminatory conduct and pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States. The Whitescarvers must also take steps to dismiss any pending eviction actions against the victim, vacate any adverse judgments they obtained against the victims, and repair the credit of any affected victim. The consent decree also permanently bars the Whitescarvers from engaging in property management and mandates Fair Housing Act training and reporting to the United States.
     
  • On December 2, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Prashad (D. Mass.).  The complaint, filed on September 9, 2019, alleges that Defendants Mohan Prashad, David Besaw, Lanaton, LLC, and Savton, LLC engaged in a pattern or practice of sexual harassment of female tenants in violation of the Fair Housing Act.  Specifically, the complaint alleges that Defendant Prashad sexually harassed female tenants of rental properties he owned or managed, and that Defendant Besaw, who was employed by Prashad to assist with the management and maintenance of his rental properties, also sexually harassed and assaulted female tenants.  The complaint also alleges that Prashad received notice of Besaw’s harassment but failed to take action to prevent it, and that he retaliated against one female tenant by filing an eviction action against her after she complained to him about Besaw’s harassment.  The consent order requires Defendants to pay $65,000 to compensate individuals harmed by the harassment and a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States, vacate a judgment that defendants had obtained against a former tenant in housing court, and implement a sexual harassment policy and complaint procedure.  It also requires that responsibility for management of Prashad’s rental properties be turned over to one or more individuals approved by the United States and prohibits Prashad and Besaw from participating in property management responsibilities at any residential rental properties.
     
  • On October 25, 2021, the Court entered a consent decree in United States v. Pfeiffer (D. Minn.).  The complaint, which was filed on September 16, 2020, alleged that, from at least 2014 through at least 2019, defendants violated the Fair Housing Act by engaging in a pattern or practice of sexually harassing female tenants at properties they own and operate in and around Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Consent Decree requires defendants to pay $750,000 in monetary compensation, including $736,000 to 23 aggrieved persons, and a $14,000 civil penalty to the United States.  It also requires the engagement of an independent property manager, and permanently enjoins Reese Pfeiffer from managing rental properties in the future.
     
  • On October 14, 2021, the court entered a consent order in in United States v. White River Regional Housing Authority and Duane Johnson (E.D. Ark.).  The complaint, which was filed on September 30, 2021, alleged that the White River Regional Housing Authority (WRRHA) and its former employee, Duane Johnson, violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by discriminating on the basis of sex when Defendant Johnson subjected the complainant to severe or pervasive sexual harassment.  The consent order requires WRRHA to pay $70,000 to the complainant, adopt and maintain an anti-discrimination policy with a complaint procedure, and provide training to its employees on the Fair Housing Act.  The settlement also permanently bars Johnson from directly or indirectly participating in the management of any residential rental property and from directly or indirectly participating in any public housing program, including being a manager or employee for any public housing program or having any ownership interest in any entity that provides housing that is the subject of federally funded assistance payments or tenant-based assistance.  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.  
     
  • On September 30, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Woodcock (W.D. Pa.).  The complaint, which was filed on April 12, 2021, alleges that defendants Allen and Heidi Woodcock, who own and manage the subject property, discriminated on the basis of sex in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).  The complaint alleges that Defendant Allen Woodcock sexually harassed a female tenant while he was at the subject property to perform maintenance, and that Defendants retaliated by initiating eviction proceedings after she reported the harassment. The consent order permanently enjoins Allen Woodcock from directly or indirectly performing any property management responsibilities including performing or supervising repairs or maintenance, advertising, showing or renting dwelling units, and negotiating rent and security deposits, and requires Defendants to pay $13,000 to the female tenant and forgive any outstanding back rent or other amounts she purportedly owes.  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.
     
  • On August 24, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Crank (E.D. Ky.).  The Fair Housing Act lawsuit, filed on March 6, 2019, alleged that Gus Crank sexually harassed female tenants while managing a Dayton, Kentucky rental property owned by his wife, Penny Crank.  Under the consent order, the Cranks must pay $48,000 in damages to four female tenants harmed by Gus Crank’s harassment and a $2,000 civil penalty to the United States. The Cranks are also prohibited from being involved in property management of rental units in the future.
     
  • On August 11, 2021, the United States filed a complaint in United States v. Peter McCarthy and Steps to Solutions, Inc. (D. Mass.).  The complaint alleges that Peter McCarthy, who operates a group of residential sober homes in or near Boston, Massachusetts through his company, Steps to Solutions, Inc., discriminated on the basis of sex in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by engaging in a pattern or practice of sexually harassing residents of his sober homes since at least 2012.  The complaint also alleges that Defendant McCarthy unlawfully retaliated against residents who reported his conduct.
     
  • On August 10, 2021, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Hernandez (C.D. Cal.).  The complaint, which was filed on January 13, 2020, alleged that from at least 2006, Property Manager Filomeno Hernandez violated the Fair Housing Act by engaging in a pattern or practice of sexual harassment against female tenants at two Los Angeles, California apartment buildings owned by Ramin Akhavan, Bonnie Brae Investment Services LLC, and Westlake Property Services LLC.  Hernandez engaged in harassment that included, among other things, frequently and repeatedly engaging in unwanted sexual touching, including sexual assault, making unwelcome sexual advances and comments, offering to reduce rent or excusing late or unpaid rent in exchange for sex, and entering the homes of female tenants without their consent.  The consent decree requires defendants to pay a total of $105,000, which includes $100,000 in monetary damages to women who were harmed as a result of the sexual harassment, and a $5,000 civil penalty. The consent decree also bars Hernandez from participating in the rental or management of residential properties in the future, and requires that Hernandez vacate the premises and leave his post as on-site property manager.
     
  • On August 3, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Pelfrey, et al. (W.D. Okla.).  The amended complaint, which was filed on November 21, 2018, alleged that John or Jane Doe, executor of the Estate of Walter Pelfrey; Rosemarie Pelfrey, as trustee of the Rosemarie Pelfrey Revocable Trust, and as trustee of the W. Ray Pelfrey Revocable Trust; Pelfrey Investment Company, LLC; and Omega Enterprises, LLC (collectively “Defendants”) violated the Fair Housing Act because Walter Ray Pelfrey, who managed dozens of residential properties owned by the Defendants, engaged in a pattern or practice of sexual harassment against female tenants and prospective tenants.  The consent order provides $1.2 million in monetary damages to aggrieved persons, a $50,000 civil penalty, and injunctive relief, including filing release and satisfaction of judgments in all wrongful evictions against aggrieved persons.
     
  • On July 23, 2021, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Hubbard (N.D. Ohio.).  The complaint, which was filed on October 30, 2020, alleged Anthony Hubbard, the owner and manager of residential rental properties in and around Toledo, Ohio, since at least 2007, sexually harassed multiple female tenants by, among other things: sending them unwanted sexual text messages, videos, and photos; offering to reduce or excuse their monthly rental payments, security deposits, and utility fees in exchange for sex acts; and entering the homes of female tenants without their consent and without prior notice.  The decree consent requires the Defendants to pay $90,000 in monetary damages to three victims of Hubbard’s harassment, and $10,000 in civil penalties.
     
  • On June 3, 2021 the Court entered a consent order in United States v. Nelson (S.D. Cal.). The complaint alleges that Larry Nelson, who has owned and managed several four-unit rental properties in the San Diego, California area, engaged in a pattern or practice of sexual harassment of and retaliation against female tenants from at least 2005 to the present.  The consent order includes a permanent injunction against the harasser-defendant’s personal participation in property management; entry of a $580,000 judgment, $205,000 of which is immediately payable to the 13 identified aggrieved persons, $25,000 as a civil penalty, and $350,000 suspended in reliance on defendant’s certification of his inability to pay; agreement to vacate eviction and small claims actions against aggrieved persons; and other injunctive provisions.
     
  • On December 7, 2020, the United States Attorney’s Office filed a pattern or practice complaint in United States v. Dos Santos (D. Mass.), alleging that a property manager in Chicopee, Massachusetts, has sexually harassed female tenants in violation of the Fair Housing Act since at least 2008 and that the two family trusts that own the properties are liable for his conduct.
     
  • On October 2, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Price (W.D. Va.).  The complaint, which was filed on September 29, alleges that Gary Price, the manager of residential rental properties in the Harrisonburg area of Virginia, sexually harassed female tenants and discriminated against tenants on the basis of race by, among other things, using racial slurs and excluding or attempting to exclude tenants’ guests on the basis of the guests’ race, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.  The consent decree includes provisions for compensatory damages in the amount of $330,000 for aggrieved persons and a $5,000 civil penalty.  It also includes injunctive provisions that prohibit Gary Price from being directly involved in the management of residential rental properties or  contacting former, current, or prospective tenants, and require that Defendants refrain from future discrimination on the basis of sex and race, seek dismissal or vacatur of unlawful detainer and related actions they filed against aggrieved persons and expungement of related credit reports, retain an independent manager, obtain fair housing training, maintain records, and submit reports to the United States. 
     
  • On October 1, 2020, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Klosterman (S.D. Ohio), containing $175,000 in monetary damages for 20 aggrieved women, a $2,500 civil penalty, and comprehensive injunctive relief.  The complaint, which was filed on March 21, 2018, alleges that the defendants, who own and manage rental properties in Cincinnati, Ohio, violated the Fair Housing Act by engaging in a pattern or practice of sexual harassment against female tenants and coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with tenants in the exercise of their fair housing rights.
     
  • On June 4, 2020, the United States filed a complaint in United States v. Jones, et al. (W.D. Mich.), alleging that Darrell Jones, the owner and manager of rental properties in Muskegon, Michigan, violated the Fair Housing Act by subjecting female tenants to sexual harassment and retaliation.  The complaint also names as defendants Fatima Jones and Jones Investing, LLC, co-owners of several of the rental properties where the harassment occurred.

  • On January 17, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Cao (D. Kan.).  The complaint, originally filed on December 18, 2017 and amended on March 29, 2018, alleged that Defendant Thong Cao sexually harassed female tenants at rental properties that he owned and managed from at least 2009 to 2014.  The consent order requires the defendants to pay $155,000 in damages to eleven aggrieved persons and $5,000 as a civil penalty.  It also prohibits Thong Cao from engaging in property management, requires defendants to sell any remaining residential rental properties, and prohibits them from acquiring new properties for use as residential rental properties. The case was referred to the Division after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received two complaints from former tenants, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.
                         

Rental and Sales Discrimination based on Disability:

  • On April 8, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Carl Torkelson, et al. (E.D. Wash.).  The complaint, which was filed on January 28, 2022, alleges that the defendants discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act by imposing an unreasonable set of restrictions on the complainant’s assistance animal and by making statements indicating a preference on the basis of disability.  Additional defendants named in the complaint include Candi Torkelson, Tina Bryant, and Torkelson Construction Inc.  The consent order requires the defendants to institute a new assistance animal policy and pay the complainant $6,000.  The case was referred to the Division after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a complaint, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.
     
  • On April 5, 2022, the United States filed an election complaint in U.S. v. Perry Homes II (W.D. Pa.).  The complaint alleges that Perry Homes, the owner of a multifamily rental property in Cranberry, Pennsylvania, discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act by refusing to grant requests for reasonable accommodations made by individuals in two different households at the property who sought permission to keep assistance animals. The case was referred to the Division after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received two separate complaints, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.

  • On March 29, 2022, the Court entered a consent order in United States v. Karen and Daniel Miyamoto (D. Wy.), resolving allegations that Defendants, the owners of rental housing in Laramie, Wyoming, discriminated on the basis of disability by refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation to their no pets policy to allow a potential tenant with a disability to rent a unit with her assistance animal.  The consent order requires training on the Fair Housing Act, adoption of a compliant reasonable accommodation policy, reporting, and $7,000 in monetary damages for the complainant.  The case was referred to the Division after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a complaint, conducted an investigation and issued a charge of discrimination.
     
  • On February 8, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Midtown Motel (W.D.N.Y.).  The complaint, which was filed on November 5, 2020, alleged that the owners and operators of a building with eleven efficiency units in Dansville, New York discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow the complainant to live at the property with her assistance animal.  The consent order requires the defendants to pay the complainant $30,000 in damages and comply with standard injunctive provisions. The case was referred to the Division after the Department of Housing and Urban Development received a complaint, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.
     
  • On February 1, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Bacchus (E.D. Pa.).  The complaint, which was filed on August 18, 2021, alleges that defendants discriminated on the basis of familial status and disability related to their refusal to allow the complainant, who was recovering from addiction to alcohol, to move his pregnant girlfriend and her child into his unit.  Under the consent order, the defendants will pay a total of $75,000 to the complainant and his child and take actions directed towards preventing future unlawful discrimination, including undergoing training and implementing nondiscrimination policies on the FHA in connection with the rental and management of residential properties.  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.
     
  • On January 20, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Howitt-Paul Road, LLC (W.D.N.Y.).   The complaint, which was filed on December 3, 2021, alleges that Defendants -- the owner and property managers of a 110-unit townhouse complex in Rochester, New York -- violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent a unit to the complainant because she had an assistance dog.  The consent order requires the defendants to pay the complainant $10,000, adopt a new assistance animal policy, and obtain Fair Housing Act training.  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. 
     
  • Sentinel Real Estate Corp., et al. (N.D. Ga.):  On December 30, 2021, the United States Attorney’s Office entered into a settlement agreement to resolve a HUD election referral alleging that the respondents discriminated against the complainant on the basis of his race (black) and his disability when they delayed approval of his request for a reasonable accommodation to allow him to keep a service/emotional support animal, and when they issued him a notice of non-renewal of his lease.  The settlement agreement requires the respondents to pay $35,000 to the complainant’s estate, obtain fair housing training, and adopt new reasonable accommodation policies. 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.
     
  • On December 28, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Meyer (E.D. Mo.). The complaint, filed on January 7, 2021, alleged that Defendants discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act when they denied the complainants’ reasonable accommodation request for permission to keep an assistance animal and ordered a mother and her son, both of whom have disabilities, to vacate their apartment because they had an emotional support animal. The consent order requires the defendants to pay complainants $18,000 in monetary damages.  This 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.
     
  • On December 22, 2021, the United States filed an amended complaint in United States v. Eilman (E.D. Wis.).  The complaint, originally filed on December 16, 2021, alleges that defendants Chad Eilman, Jeffrey Eilman, and Christine Neigum – the owners and managers of a Wisconsin apartment complex – discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act by refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation to allow a prospective tenant with a disability to live with her assistance animal at the complex.  The case was referred to the Division after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a complaint, conducted an investigation and issued a charge of discrimination.
     
  • On December 10, 2021, the court entered the consent order in United States v. The Links South at Harbour Village Condominium Ass’n, Inc. (M.D. Fla.).  The complaint, which was filed on October 8, 2021, alleges that Links South failed to grant a reasonable accommodation to Mr. Charlie Burge, who has diagnosed upper respiratory disabilities stemming from his having spent 18 months with the New York City Department of Sanitation clearing debris from the World Trade Center site following the attacks on 9/11.  Because of his disabilities, Mr. Burge had a practice of removing his shoes before entering his condominium and placing them outside his front door to avoid tracking allergens inside his unit and aggravating his disabilities.  Links South issued Mr. Burge rule violation notices, and Mr. Burge, through his counsel, sent a letter to Links South requesting a reasonable accommodation that would allow him to leave his shoes outside his front door.  Despite receiving this request and supporting medical documentation, Links South constructively denied Mr. Burge’s request by repeatedly asking for more information and questioning the nexus between Mr. Burge’s disability and his need to leave his shoes outside his unit.  Under the consent order, the defendant will pay Mr. Burge $40,000, grant Mr. Burge’s reasonable accommodation request, adopt a non-discrimination policy and a reasonable accommodation policy, undergo training, and submit periodic reports to the government.  The case was referred to the Division after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a complaint, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.
     
  • On December 6, 2021, the United States Attorney’s office filed a Fair Housing Act (FHA) election complaint in United States v. Rutherford Tenants Corp. (S.D.N.Y.).  The complaint alleges that the Rutherford Tenants Corp. and James Ramadei discriminated on the basis of disability when they sought to evict Complainant for living with emotional support animals and that they retaliated against her by wrongfully refusing to approve the sale of her co-operative apartment and preventing her from mitigating her damages.  The case was referred to the Division after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a complaint, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.
     
  • On September 8, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Las Vegas Jaycees (D. Nev.).  The complaint, filed on September 29, 2020, alleged that Defendants Las Vegas Jaycees Senior Citizens Mobile Home Community, Newport Pacific Capital Company, and Sherry Polley-Tompkins discriminated against the Complainants on the basis of disability.  Specifically, the complaint alleged that the Defendants failed to grant a reasonable accommodation to its breed restriction policy to allow a woman with PTSD to visit her mother at the mobile home community with her assistance animal and that the Defendants interfered with the Complainants’ fair housing rights by banning the daughter and evicting the mother from the community.  The consent order requires Defendants to pay a combined $100,000 to the Complainants, revise their reasonable accommodation policy, attend fair housing training, maintain records regarding reasonable accommodation requests and report to the United States on their compliance with the terms of the Consent Order.  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.

  • On September 1, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Smolnik (W.D. Mo.).  The complaint, which was filed on October 30, 2020, alleges that the owners and managers of a 15-lot mobile home park in West Plains, Missouri discriminated on the basis of disability by requiring a pet deposit for the complainants’ assistance animal and verbally harassing the complainants, brandishing a gun, and physically attacking one of the complainants.  The consent order requires the defendants to pay $40,000 to the HUD complainants, attend fair housing training, and submit to other standard injunctive relief.  The case was referred to the Division after the Department of Housing and Urban Development received a complaint, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.

  • On August 30, 2021, the United States Attorney’s Office filed an election complaint in United States v. Ruredy808, LLC, et al.  (N.D. Miss.) alleging that the owners of an apartment complex in Oxford, Mississippi violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow a tenant with disabilities to remain in his unit with an assistance dog and by taking steps to evict the tenant and his roommates.  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. 
     
  • On July 23, 2021, the United States filed a complaint in United States v. Perry Homes (W.D. Pa.), alleging that, Defendants, who own and/or operate three rental properties in Cranberry, Zelienople and Harmony, Pennsylvania, had a blanket practice of excluding emotional support animals (“ESA”) from dwellings that they owned or managed, causing injury to Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services (“SWPLS”), a non-profit legal aid organization whose mission includes combating housing discrimination.  The Complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages for SWPLS.
     
  • On June 30, 2021, the United States Attorney's Office filed a complaint and settlement agreement in United States v. Fairfield Properties (E.D.N.Y.).  The complaint alleges that a 42-unit condominium association in Commack, New York and its property management company violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow two tenants to live with an emotional assistance dog.  The settlement agreement requires the defendants to pay $47,500 in damages to the tenants, attend fair housing training, and adopt a new reasonable accommodation policy.  This 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.
     
  • On April 19, 2021, the United States Attorney’s Office filed a Fair Housing Act (FHA) complaint in United States v. Chicopee Housing Authority (D. Mass.), alleging that the defendants refused to allow a tenant who has end stage renal disease and needs dialysis to transfer to a first floor or elevator accessible unit with a sanitary space separate from the kitchen or bathroom to accommodate her medical equipment. 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.
     
  • On April 11, 2021, the United States Attorney’s Office filed a Fair Housing Act (FHA) election complaint in United States v. John J. Flatley d/b/a John J. Flatley Company and Luke Page (D. N.H.). The complaint alleges that the defendants discriminated on the basis of disability when they refused to make a reasonable accommodation allowing the tenant to live with her emotional assistance Saint Bernard dog. 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.
     
  • On February 22, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Vandelay Group (E.D. Wis.). The complaint, which was filed on July 28, 2020, alleged that the owners and operators of a two-story duplex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin violated the Fair Housing Act on the basis of disability by refusing to rent an apartment to the HUD complainants because they made a reasonable accommodation request for an assistance dog.  The consent order requires the defendants to adopt a new reasonable accommodation policy, obtain fair housing training, and pay $27,500 in damages to the HUD complainants. 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.
     
  • On January 14, 2021, the United States filed an election complaint in United States v. Pereos (D. Nev.), alleging that the owners and operators of rental properties in Reno, Nevada violated the Fair Housing Act on the basis of disability by refusing to allow one set of complainants to live at a subject property with a service animal, and by refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation request by another set of complainants at another subject property to be allowed to reside at the property with an assistance animal. Defendants named in the complaint include C. Nicholas Pereos, Nina Properties II, Inc., Pereos 1980 Trust, Willis E. Powell, Nichole Truax, Iris Norton, Brownstone Apartments, LLC, and Teri Morrison.  This matter was referred to the Division based on two separate HUD charges after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received two separate complaints, conducted investigations, and issued two charges of discrimination.
     
  • On December 15, 2020, the United States filed an election complaint in United States v. Gainfort (W.D. Pa.).  The complaint alleges that the defendants, LRG Corporation d/b/a LRG Rentals and Lewis R. Gainfort, discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act by refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation to allow complainants to keep an assistance animal and terminating the tenancy of the complainant and her son on the grounds that the son’s assistance animal violated their “no pets” policy. 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
     
  • On December 15, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Hammett (D. Minn.), a Fair Housing Act election referral from HUD.  The complaint, which was filed on September 23, 2020, alleged that the owner and manager of Pleasant Hill Manor, a 28-lot mobile home park in Madison Lake, Minnesota, violated the Fair Housing Act by rejecting the complainants’ rental application because of the breed of their two assistance animals (pit bulls).  The consent order requires the defendants to adopt a reasonable accommodations policy, obtain fair housing training and pay the HUD complainants $6,500 in damages. 
     
  • On September 11, 2020, the court entered the proposed consent order in United States v. Bank of America (E.D.N.Y.). The complaint, which was filed on July 23, 2020, alleges that Bank of America discriminated on the basis of disability, in violation of the FHA, through implementation of a policy that prohibited the issuance of mortgage loans to adults who had legal guardians or conservators.  The consent order requires the bank to maintain new policies that permit loans to adults with guardians or conservators, to ensure that employees are trained on the new policies, and to pay damages of $4,000 for each loan application that was denied as a result of the bank’s prior unlawful policy.
     
  • On July 16, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Dunnwood Acres Apts., LLC (E.D. Mo.).  The Fair Housing Act election complaint, filed on June 17, 2020, alleged that the defendants discriminated on the basis of disability by refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation for a transfer to a unit with fewer stairs based on the complainant’s daughter’s mobility impairment.  The consent order requires the Defendants to pay $44,000 in monetary damages to the complainant’s family, and includes injunctive relief, training, monitoring, and a provision requiring Defendants to vacate and shield from public disclosure a state court judgment they obtained against the complainant.
     
  • On July 14, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. 111 East 88th Partners (S.D.N.Y.).  The complaint, which was filed in December 2016, and was subsequently amended, alleges that the owner and operator of an apartment complex refused to make a reasonable accommodation to allow a person with a disability to keep an assistance animal in his home.  The consent order requires defendant to allow the complainant to keep an assistance dog for as long as he lives at the premises, dismiss its holdover proceedings action against him and obtain training and adopt a reasonable accommodations policy.  This 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.
     
  • On June 25, 2020 the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Heritage Senior Living, LLC (E. D. Pa.).  The complaint, which was filed on May 13, 2020 alleged that the defendants engaged in unlawful discrimination by creating and implementing a series of discriminatory tenant occupancy and eligibility policies and practices that exclude persons with disabilities. The complaint alleged that the defendants, who are the owners and operators of Traditions of Hanover, a senior living facility, violated the Fair Housing Act by, inter alia, enacting a policy that required residents who use wheelchairs to transfer from their wheelchairs into a dining room chair, enacting a policy that required residents who used motorized and non-motorized wheelchairs to pay a non-refundable deposit, and requiring residents to sign a lease that imposes conditions such as requiring an initial physical assessment as a requirement of tenancy and potential eviction if a resident develops certain health conditions.   In addition, the complaint alleged that the defendants provided transportation as an amenity and that until 2013, that transportation was inaccessible to people who used wheelchairs in violation of the Fair Housing Act.  Under the consent order, defendants will pay a minimum of $250,000 and a maximum of $325,000 into a settlement fund to compensate residents and prospective residents who were harmed by these policies.  Defendants will also pay a $55,000 civil penalty to the United States.  In addition, defendants will attend fair housing training, appoint a Fair Housing Act compliance officer at Traditions and other senior living facilities, and will implement new resident policies, including a new reasonable accommodation policy and a new motorized wheelchair policy.
     
  • On June, 23, 2020, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Christensen (E.D. Wash.).  The complaint, which was filed on March 16, 2020, alleged that the owner of a 21-unit apartment building in Pullman, Washington violated the Fair Housing Act on the basis of disability by refusing to allow a woman to live with her assistance dog and then fining her and beginning eviction proceedings against her and her son.  The consent decree requires the defendant to pay the complainant $13,000 in damages, to adopt a reasonable accommodations policy, and to obtain fair housing training.  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.
     
  • On June 12, 2020, the United States filed a statement of interest in Roque v. Seattle Housing Authority (W.D. Wash.) a Fair Housing Act case alleging denial of a reasonable accommodation for an on-site parking space for the caregiver of a tenant with disabilities.  The United States argued that a parking space for a caregiver may, under certain circumstances, be a reasonable accommodation. 
     
  • On March 12, 2020, the United States filed a complaint in United States v. Dorchester Owners Association (DOA) (E.D. Pa.).  The complaint alleges that the DOA discriminated on the basis of disability by failing to grant a reasonable accommodation to its no-pets policy to a HUD complainant, and alleges that DOA engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination and/or a denial of rights against a group of persons for adopting a discriminatory policy and refusing to grant reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities who need assistance animals.
     
  • On February 24, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Melinda S. Moore Housing, Inc., et al. (W.D. Va.). The complaint, filed September 26, 2019, alleged that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act when they refused to grant the complainant’s request for a reasonable modification (permission to install an automatic door opener) and a reasonable accommodation (additional time to complete the recertification requirements for her federally subsidized housing).  The consent order provides $27,500 in damages to the HUD complainant as well as standard injunctive relief.
     
  • On January 16, 2020, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Gorecki (D. Minn.).  The election complaint, which was filed on March 26, 2019 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, alleged that the owner and property manager of an eight-unit rental property in Foley, Minnesota violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow the HUD complainant to live with an emotional support German Shepard puppy for her minor son, who has Down Syndrome.  The consent decree requires the defendants to pay $33,450 to the HUD complainant and provide her with a neutral rental reference and to adopt a reasonable accommodation policy and attend fair housing training if they reenter the rental business.
     
  • On January 7, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Creekside Condominium Owners Ass’n (D. Colo.).  The complaint, which was filed on January 2, 2020, alleges that a condo homeowners association refused, over a period of six months, to allow a resident to live with her emotional assistance dog.  The consent order requires the defendant to pay $50,000 in damages, send to all condo owners at the property a written apology to the HUD complainants, adopt a new reasonable accommodation policy and attend fair housing training.
     

Design and Construction:

  • On October 26, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Mills Construction Company, Inc., et al. (E.D.N.C.).  The complaint, filed on September 28, 2021, alleged that Mills Construction Company, Inc. and six related owners and developers discriminated against persons with disabilities by failing to design and construct North Carolina multifamily apartment complexes that are accessible to persons with disabilities.  Specifically, the United States’ complaint allege that Defendants violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by designing and/or constructing 38 properties funded with Low Income Housing Tax Credits without the required accessibility features.  The consent order requires Defendants to make extensive retrofits to remove accessibility barriers at the apartment complexes, pay $225,000 into a settlement fund to compensate individuals harmed by the inaccessible housing, and pay $50,000 to the United States.
     
  • On October 18, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. The Pendergraph Companies, LLC, et al. (E.D.N.C).  The complaint, which was filed on September 30, 2021, alleged that Defendants – the owners, developers and builders of multifamily housing developments in North Carolina and South Carolina - have discriminated against persons with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to design and construct covered multifamily dwellings in a manner that makes them accessible to persons with disabilities.  The consent order requires the defendants to make extensive retrofits to remove accessibility barriers in housing units and common areas at the 6 subject properties and at 40 additional properties, pay all costs related to the retrofits, pay $275,000 into a settlement fund to compensate individuals harmed by the inaccessible housing, and pay a civil penalty of $25,000 to the United States.  The settlement also requires the defendants to receive training about the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to take steps to ensure that their future multifamily housing construction complies with those laws. 
     
  • On September 21, 2021, the court entered an amended consent order in United States v. Dominion Management, LLC, et al. (N.D. Ala.).  The complaint, which was filed on August 30, 2021, alleges that Dominion Management and related owners failed to design and construct multifamily senior living properties with the required accessibility features.  Under the consent order, defendants must create a settlement fund of $400,000, pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to the U.S. Treasury, retrofit eight multifamily senior living properties including more than 1,500 units, undergo training, and ensure any new construction meets the requirements of the FHA and ADA.
     
  • On August 19, 2021, the court entered a consent order fully resolving the United States’ claims in United States v. Hampton Corporation (D.N.D.). The complaint, which was filed on March 16, 2020, alleged that a developer and affiliated entities and individuals violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to design and construct 116 units of housing and common use areas at four housing complexes in Grand Forks and West Fargo and a rental office so that they are accessible to people with disabilities. Among other provisions, the consent order requires the defendants to remove barriers to accessibility at the properties, contribute to an aggrieved persons fund, and attend fair housing training.  On March 23, 2020, the court entered a partial consent order settling the United States’ claims against the architect and engineer who worked on one of the building developments.
     
  • On June 4, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Star Management Corp. (D.P.R.).  The complaint, which was filed on February 27, 2020, alleged that Star Management Corp. and its affiliated entities were involved in the design and construction of six multifamily housing developments with approximately 381 FHA-covered units located in Puerto Rico.  All of the properties were built using Low-Income Housing Tax Credits ("LIHTC") and/or funds from the HOME Partnership Investment Program ("HOME funds") or other HUD programs.  The complaint alleged that the defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of designing and constructing multifamily housing developments or denying rights to a group of persons in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C), and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12183(a)(1).  The principal violations at the properties include, among other things, a lack of accessible routes to many covered units and public and common use areas due to steps, the absence of curb cuts, vertical level changes, and steep running and cross slopes; a lack of accessible routes into and through the dwelling units due to high thresholds, narrow passage ways, and narrow doors; and adaptive design violations in the bathrooms and kitchens.  The consent order requires an injunction, fair housing training, record keeping obligations, reporting to the United States for a period of four years, a settlement fund of $175,000 to compensate victims, and retrofits to alleged non-compliant barriers on the accessible routes, in the public and common use areas, and in the covered dwelling units at the five properties.
     
  • On December 11, 2020, the United States filed a complaint in United States v. J. Randolph Parry Architects, P.C. (E.D. Pa.), alleging that defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination and denial of rights to a group of persons on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to design and construct at least 15 multifamily properties in four states with the required accessibility features.  Additional defendants include: Westrum Hanover, LLC, AMC Delancey Traditions of Hersey Partnerships, LP, One Boyertown Properties LP, HCRI Pennsylvania, Inc., The Views at Pine Valley I, LP, Care HSL Newtown Propcp LLC, Lifequest Nursing Center, and Douglassville Properties, LP.
     
  • On October 15, 2020, the court entered a settlement resolving two related Fair Housing Act accessibility cases, United States v. Atlantic Development Group, LLC (S.D.N.Y.) and United States v. Atlantic Development Group, LLC and Peter Fine (S.D.N.Y.).  The complaints were filed on January 17, 2017, and October 16, 2019. Under the agreement, the defendants are to make extensive retrofits in 71 rental buildings with over 6,000 apartments, making this one of the largest settlements of a design and construction case. The agreement establishes a $600,000 compensation fund for aggrieved persons and requires Atlantic to pay a $30,000 civil penalty.
     
  • On September 14, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. PR III/Broadstone Blake Street, LLC, et al. resolving a Fair Housing Act design and construction case resulting from an election referral from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The complaint, which was filed on September 26, 2019, alleged that the developer and builder defendants failed to construct The Battery on Blake Street, a rental apartment building in Denver, CO, so that it was accessible to persons with disabilities. The consent order requires certain retrofits to units and common areas in the building in addition to reporting and training requirements and a payment of $5,000 to the HUD Complainant, the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center. 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.
     
  • On August 10, 2020, the court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants in Ability Center, et al. v. Moline Builders, et al. (N.D. Ohio).  At issue was whether, under the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements for newly-constructed multifamily dwellings, the front door and walkway leading to a covered unit are required to be accessible to persons with disabilities.  Defendants argued that their only obligation was to provide an accessible route into the unit, which, they alleged, they had done by providing an accessible route through the garage.  The United States filed a Statement of Interest arguing that, under the Act, the front doors and walkways are “public use and common use portions” of covered dwellings and therefore required to be accessible, regardless whether there is another accessible route into the unit.  The court agreed, finding that the failure to provide “unimpeded access” to the front door to persons who use wheelchairs, including not just those who live in the unit but also a “neighbor, friend, or family member, a political candidate, or a repairman,” is “in effect, to send them away as if unwelcome,” and “precisely the discrimination the FHAA forbids.”

  • On March 25, 2020, the court entered a consent order resolving United States v. Epcon Communities, Inc. and Epcon Communities Franchising, Inc. (S.D. Ohio). The complaint, filed on October 17, 2019, alleged that the defendants failed to design and construct thirty-two (32) condominium properties in Ohio in a manner that complies with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).  Pursuant to the consent order, Epcon Communities, Inc. and Epcon Communities Franchising, Inc. must pay up to $2,200,000 to correct inaccessible features in the common areas of the properties and within the individual units. The corrections that defendants must make to the common areas include: removing steps; replacing steeply-sloped walkways; adding accessible routes from units to amenities such as the clubhouse and swimming pool; and providing accessible parking. The defendants must also offer to pay current owners to correct certain inaccessible features within condominium units, including those found in bathrooms and kitchens. Additionally, they must establish a $300,000 settlement fund for people who suffered harm due to the lack of accessible features at the 32 Ohio properties, pay a civil penalty of $51,303 to the United States, and ensure that any future housing they design or construct complies with the FHA. The defendants also must pay $40,000 in damages to the Fair Housing Advocates Association, which filed the discrimination complaint with HUD that initiated this case.

  • On March 30, 2020, the court entered an amended consent order resolving United States v. Fernando L. Sumaza & Co., Inc. (D. P.R.).  The complaint, filed on February 28, 2020, alleged that Fernando L. Sumaza & Co., Inc. and its affiliated entities were involved in the design and construction of five multifamily housing developments with approximately 276 FHA-covered units located in Puerto Rico.  All of the properties were built using Low-Income Housing Tax Credits ("LIHTC") and/or funds from the HOME Partnership Investment Program ("HOME funds") or USDA. The complaint alleged that the defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of designing and constructing multifamily housing developments or denying rights to a group of persons in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(C), and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12183(a)(1). The principal violations at the properties include, among other things, a lack of accessible routes to many covered units and public and common use areas due to steps, the absence of curb cuts, vertical level changes, and steep running and cross slopes; a lack of accessible routes into and through the dwelling units due to high thresholds, narrow passage ways, and narrow doors; and adaptive design violations in the bathrooms and kitchens. The consent order requires an injunction, fair housing training, record keeping obligations, reporting to the United States for a period of three years, a settlement fund of $150,000 to compensate victims, a civil penalty of $10,000, and retrofits to alleged non-compliant barriers on the accessible routes, in the public and common use areas, and in the covered dwelling units at the five properties.
     

Discriminatory Land Use and Zoning:

  • On December 27, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Town of Wolcott (D. Conn.).  The complaint, filed on December 7, 2020, alleged that the Town of Wolcott, Connecticut discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act when it denied a special use permit to applicants seeking to open a community residence for 13 adults with mental health disabilities and subsequently amended its zoning regulations to eliminate the operation of a community residence for adults with disabilities as a permitted use anywhere in the Town.  The United States’ lawsuit was consolidated with a related suit brought by the housing provider and property owner of the proposed group home, SELF Inc. and L&R Realty Inc.  The consent order provides that the Town will allow SELF. to operate a community residence with up to 13 residents and will pay $350,000 in monetary damages to SELF and L&R Realty as well as $10,000 to the United States.  The order also requires the Town to amend its zoning regulations to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws; implement a reasonable accommodation policy; provide training to Town officials and employees about their obligations under federal law; designate a fair housing compliance officer; and report periodically to the Justice Department.
     
  • On November 24, 2020, the United States filed a pattern or practice complaint in United States v. Village of Hinsdale, Ill. (N.D. Ill.), alleging that the Village of Hinsdale discriminated on the basis of disability when it prohibited a sober living home from operating and refused to consider its request for a reasonable accommodation to the Village’s zoning code. 
     
  • On November 6, 2020, the United States entered into an out-of-court settlement agreement resolving United States v. Town of Irmo (D.S.C), a lawsuit based on a zoning or land-use referral from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In its complaint, filed on November 16, 2018, the United States alleged that the Town’s failure to grant a homeowner a zoning variance to build a carport on her property to accommodate her physical disability violated the reasonable accommodation and reasonable modification provisions of the Fair Housing Act. Under the agreement, the Town will pay the homeowner $25,000, is prohibited from engaging in future disability discrimination or interfering with the homeowner’s use of her carport, and must participate in fair-housing training and report to the Division any denial of a request for a reasonable accommodation.
     
  • On June 4, 2020, the United States filed a settlement agreement with the court resolving United States v. Government of Guam (D.  Guam).  The complaint, filed September 29, 2017, alleged that enforcement of the Chamorro Land Trust Act and its implementing regulations discriminates against non-Chamorros on the basis of race or national origin, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. “Chamorro” is a term often used to refer to descendants of the indigenous people of Guam. Based on Census 2010 data, Chamorros make up approximately 37.3% of the population of Guam, and under the Chamorro Land Trust Act, the Chamorro Land Trust Commission holds and administers approximately 20,000 acres, or 15% of Guam’s total land area. As part of its mission to administer this land, the Commission grants 99-year residential leases for one-acre tracts at a cost of one dollar per year. Only “native Chamorros,” however, are eligible for these leases. Under the settlement agreement, Guam will stop taking race and national origin into account in awarding the land leases. The CLTA will be amended to award leases based on whether individuals lost land or use of land, including during World War II and its aftermath, instead of whether an applicant is a “native Chamorro.”  And the Chamorro Land Trust Commission has agreed to record-keeping, reporting, training, and additional injunctive relief requirements.
     
  • On June 20, 2019, the United States entered into a settlement agreement to resolve United States v. St. Bernard Parish (E.D. La.), a lawsuit alleging that the Parish discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act.  The settlement agreement includes $975,000 in damages and fees to the aggrieved persons and their attorneys, a $60,000 civil penalty, and standard relief, including Fair Housing Act training and designation of a compliance officer.  As part of the settlement, the Parish amended its zoning ordinance to allow small group homes in all residential districts and adopted an amended reasonable accommodation policy.  The complaint, filed on December 6, 2018, alleged that St. Bernard Parish discriminated when it failed to grant reasonable accommodations to allow two group homes, each for five children with disabilities, to operate in single-family residential zoning districts.
     

Public Accommodations (Title II):

  • On February 1, 2018, the United States entered into a settlement agreement resolving United States v. Jarrah (S.D. Tex.).  The complaint, which was filed on September 28, 2016, alleges that the owner and operator of the Houston-based sports bar 360 Midtown (formerly d/b/a Gaslamp) implemented discriminatory admission practices to discourage and/or deny African American, Hispanic and Asian-American prospective patrons entrance.  The complaint further alleges that defendant Jarrah used racial slurs when explicitly instructing employees to exclude African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American patrons from the bar.  Under the settlement agreement, defendants are required to comply with Title II; implement a system for receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination; and conduct monitoring to ensure that 360 Midtown’s employees act in a non-discriminatory manner consistent with federal law.
     
  • On June 30, 2015, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Routh Guys, LLC d/b/a Kung Fu Saloon (N.D. Tex.). The complaint, which was also filed on June 30, 2015, alleged that the owners and operators of a bar and restaurant located in Dallas, Austin, and Houston, Texas, discriminated against African-American and Asian-American patrons by denying them admission into Kung Fu Saloons, in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The consent order requires Kung Fu Saloons to post and enforce a non-discriminatory dress code policy; to implement a system for receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination; and to conduct monitoring to ensure that Kung Fu Saloon's employees are acting in a non-discriminatory manner consistent with federal law.
     

Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons (RLUIPA):

  • On February 25, 2022, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Village of Walthill, Nebraska (D. Neb.)  The amended complaint, which was filed on January 12, 2021, alleged that the Village violated the substantial burden and equal terms provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by denying Light of the World Gospel Ministries, a non-denominational Christian church, a permit to construct a new church in the Village.  The consent order requires the Village to grant Light of the World Gospel Ministries a special use permit to construct a new multi-use building including a church on property it had purchased in a commercial district of the Village.  It also prohibits the Village from violating RLUIPA in the future, and requires it to arrange for RLUIPA training of Village Board members and staff, provide notice to the public regarding rights protected by RLUIPA, and comply with recordkeeping, reporting and inspection requirements.

  • On October 14, 2021, the United States filed a notice of dismissal in United States v. Stafford County, VA (E.D. Va.), after obtaining the relief it sought in the case.  The United States’ complaint, filed on June 19, 2020, alleged that the County violated the substantial burden provision of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) when it enacted an ordinance that imposed 900-foot distance requirements between cemeteries and private wells and perennial streams, thereby prohibiting the All Muslim Association of America (AMAA) from developing a religious cemetery on land it had bought for that purpose.  The complaint alleged that the distance requirements were not justified for health or safety reasons, exceeded state standards, and did not exist in any other jurisdiction in Virginia.  In response to the United States’ investigation and filing of the lawsuit, the County repealed the ordinances that prevented the AMAA from developing the cemetery, approved the AMAA’s site plan for the cemetery, implemented new internal procedures for addressing complaints, provided RLUIPA training to employees, posted RLUIPA-related notices, and, in settling the private suit filed by the AMAA, agreed to pay the AMAA $500,000 in damages. 
     
  • Thai Association of Alabama, et al. v. City of Mobile (S.D. Ala.):  On May 7, 2021, the Division filed a statement of interest in this RLUIPA case on remand from the Eleventh Circuit.  The Division filed a brief and participated in oral argument in the appeal, arguing that the district court had applied the wrong standard for evaluating RLUIPA substantial burden claims.  The Eleventh Circuit agreed and reversed and remanded for the district court to apply an approach modeled on the decisions of other circuits.  The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on April 12, 2021.  The Statement of Interest elaborates on the approaches of the other circuits in evaluating substantial burden, and explains the compelling interest test the court should apply if it finds a substantial burden.
     
  • On March 11, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Township of Toms River (D. N.J.). The complaint, which was filed on March 10, 2021, alleges that Toms River violated RLUIPA by enacting zoning regulations which place unreasonable limits on where religious assemblies and institutions may locate, substantially burden religious exercise, and treat religious assemblies and institutions on less than equal terms with nonreligious assemblies and institution. The complaint alleges that since 2009, Toms River has enacted a series of revisions to its zoning code—including a ten-acre parcel minimum requirement—which greatly reduced both the number of zoning districts in which houses of worship can locate and the number of sites available for houses of worship. These restrictions have had a particular impact on the Township’s Orthodox Jewish population, who, because of their faith and religious traditions, tend to worship at small houses of worship which they walk to and from on the Sabbath and Holidays.  The consent order requires the Township to revise its zoning code to: reduce the minimum acreage required for a house of worship in many zoning districts from ten acres to two acres; allow houses of worship as-of-right in certain zoning districts; allow smaller houses of worship to be located on minor collector roads; and treat houses of worship on comparable terms to nonreligious places of assembly. The consent order also requires the Township to train its officials and employees on RLUIPA’s requirements and establish a procedure for receiving and resolving RLUIPA complaints.
     
  • On November 9, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. City of Meriden  (D. Conn.). The complaint, which was filed along with the proposed consent order on November 5, 2020, alleged that the City of Meriden, Connecticut and the City of Meriden Planning Commission violated RLUIPA by denying the application of the Omar Islamic Center to establish a mosque in March 2019, and by maintaining a zoning code that treats religious assemblies and institutions on less than equal terms with nonreligious assemblies and institutions in nine zoning districts. The consent order requires the City to amend its zoning ordinance to comply with RLUIPA, provide RLUIPA training to its officials and employees, and notify the public about its compliance with RLUIPA in zoning and land use.
     
  • On October 30, 2020, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Borough of Woodcliff Lake (D. N.J.). The complaint, which was filed on June 13, 2018, alleged that the borough violated RLUIPA’s substantial burden provision when it denied Valley Chabad, an Orthodox Jewish group, a variance to expand its place of worship on land it owns in the borough. The consent decree requires the borough to grant the variance, obtain RLUIPA training, provide periodic reports, and refrain from future violations of RLUIPA.
     
  • On May 20, 2020, the United States filed a complaint in United States v. Township of Jackson and Jackson Planning Board (D. N.J.). The complaint alleges that Jackson Township, New Jersey and Jackson Township’s Planning Board violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act’s (RLUIPA) non-discrimination and equal terms provisions, as well as the Fair Housing Act, by targeting the Orthodox Jewish community through zoning ordinances restricting religious boarding schools. The complaint alleges that the Township passed Ordinances 03-17 and 04-17, and the Planning Board applied those Ordinances in a manner that against the Orthodox Jewish community and its ability to operate Orthodox Jewish yeshivas there.  The complaint also alleges that the Planning Board approved, after the passage of the ordinances and without variances, plans for two nonreligious projects with dormitory-type housing.
     
  • On March 25, 2020, the district court denied the County’s Motion for Summary Judgment in Sailak, LLC and Sumaltha Satoor v. Forsyth County (N.D. Ga.).  The case involves claims that the County substantially burdened the Plaintiffs’ religious exercise and discriminated against them in violation of RLUIPA when it denied them a conditional use permit to develop a Hindu temple on their property.  After Plaintiffs filed their complaint, the County moved to have the complaint dismissed, arguing that Plaintiffs lacked standing in that private restrictions on the Plaintiffs’ land barred them from challenging the denial of the permit under RLUIPA. The Division filed a statement of interest on January 27, 2020, arguing that the Plaintiffs’ RLUIPA’s claims should proceed because the court can remedy the alleged harm by the County.  The court held that Plaintiffs have standing to bring their RLUIPA claims because if the Plaintiffs were successful on their RLUIPA claims, they would be entitled to the CUP they were improperly denied and that it was “undisputed” that the County has never had the power to enforce the private restrictions.  The court also ordered the parties to continue with discovery on merits of Plaintiffs’ RLUIPA claims.
     
  • On September 19, 2019, the United States file a complaint in United States v. City of Troy, Michigan (E.D. Mich.), alleging that the City of Troy violated the substantial burden and equal terms provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The complaint involves Adam Community Center’s (Adam) efforts to establish an Islamic place of worship in Troy at a building previously used as a restaurant and banquet hall. The complaint specifically alleges that Troy (1) imposed an unjustified substantial burden on Adam’s exercise of religion when it denied Adam’s variance requests that would have allowed Adam to worship at the building and (2) violated RLUIPA’s equal terms provision by requiring places of worship to abide by more onerous zoning restrictions than places of nonreligious assembly. The complaint seeks injunctive and declaratory relief.
     

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

  • On April 15, 2022, the United States filed a complaint in United States v. Steve’s Towing, Inc. (E.D. Va.), alleging that a Virginia Beach based towing company violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by auctioning off vehicles belonging to at least seven servicemembers without first obtaining the required court orders.  One of the vehicles has been valued at more than $50,000, and was towed from a military base while its owner was deployed overseas.
     
  • On March 18, 2022 the court entered a consent order in United States v. BayPort Credit Union (E.D. Va.).  The complaint, which was filed on March 10, 2022, alleges that a credit union failed to cap servicemembers’ interest rates for pre-service loans at 6% and repossessed servicemembers’ motor vehicles without the required court orders.  The consent order requires BayPort to pay $69,443.10 to 24 servicemembers and pay a $40,000 civil penalty.  The agreement also includes changes in BayPort’s SCRA interest rate benefit and repossession policies and employee training.
     
  • On November 2, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. PRTaylor LLC d/b/a Father & Son Moving & Storage (D. Mass.).  The complaint, filed on August 18, 2020, alleged that the defendant violated Section 3958 of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”), 50 U.S.C. § 3958, by auctioning of the belongings of a United States Air Force Technical Sergeant without a court order while the servicemember was deployed.  The auctioned belongings included the Technical Sergeant’s military gear, items that had belonged to a cousin who was killed in action while serving in the military, a relative’s military service medals, a dresser that was handmade by his great-grandfather, and his personal photographs.  The consent order requires the defendant to pay the servicemember $60,000, pay $5,000 to the United States as a civil penalty, provide annual training on the SCRA to employees involved in the rental, management, or disposal of storage units, modify its storage contracts to include SCRA safeguards, and implement new procedures for SCRA compliance prior to enforcing any storage lien.
     
  • On October 21, 2021, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. New Jersey Higher Ed. (D. N.J.).  The complaint, which was filed on September 20, 2021, alleges that the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) when it obtained improper student loan default judgments against two active duty servicemembers by filing affidavits with the court stating that the servicemembers were not in military service when they were, in fact, in military service.  The consent decree requires the state agency to pay $15,000 in damages to the each of the two servicemembers and a $20,000 civil penalty (total of $50,000), in addition to adopting various policy changes to prevent future SCRA violations.
     
  • On October 6, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. American Honda Finance Corporation (C.D. Cal.).  The complaint, which was filed along with the proposed consent order on September 29, 2021, alleged that American Honda Finance Corporation violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by failing to refund pre-paid lease amounts - in the form of capitalized cost reduction (“CCR”) from vehicle trade-in value – that were paid in advance by servicemembers who lawfully terminated their motor vehicle leases upon receipt of qualifying military orders.  The consent order requires Honda to pay $1,585,803.89 to 714 servicemembers, pay a $64,715 civil penalty to the United States, make changes to its lease termination and SCRA interest rate benefit policies, and provide employee training.
     
  • On October 1, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc. d/b/a Chrysler Capital (N.D. Tex.).  The complaint, filed on September 30, 2021, alleged that Defendant Santander Consumer USA, Inc. d/b/a Chrysler Capital violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), by unlawfully rejecting ten (10) requests from qualified servicemembers to terminate their motor vehicle leases early.  The consent order require Defendant provide for changes to procedures and training, $94,282.62 in compensation for ten servicemembers, and a $40,000 civil penalty.
     
  • On August 9, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Black and White Garage, Inc. dba Black and White Towing (C.D. Cal.).  The complaint, which was filed on July 20, 2021, alleges that a towing company violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by illegally auctioning off a vehicle belonging to an active duty U.S. Marine.  Under the consent decree, Black and White must adopt new policies and implement new training requirements, pay $22,000 in compensation to the Marine, and pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the U.S. Treasury.
     
  • On July 26, 2021, the court entered a consent order in United States v. United Tows, LLC (N.D. Tex.).  The complaint, which was filed on September 28, 2020, allege that United Tows, a Dallas-based towing company, violated Section 3958 of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) when it auctioned, sold or otherwise disposed of vehicles owned by SCRA-protected servicemembers without obtaining court orders.  Under the consent decree, United Tows must adopt new policies and implement new training requirements, pay a total of $40,000 to compensate the five aggrieved servicemembers, and pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the U.S. Treasury.
     
  • On January 29, 2021, the court entered a proposed consent order in United States v. Conn Credit I, LP, et al. (S.D. Tex.).  The complaint, which was filed on  September 15, 2020, alleges that the defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by failing to lower the interest rate on consumer retail installment contracts to 6% for at least 184 SCRA-protected servicemembers. The consent order requires Conn Credit to refund all overcharged interest and pay an additional $500 to each servicemember and to pay $50,000 as a civil penalty.  The consent order has a term of three years and requires Conn Credit to hire an independent consultant to identify all affected servicemembers.
     
  • On October 15, 2020, the court entered a consent order resolving United States v. ASAP Towing & Storage Company (M.D. Fla.). The complaint, filed on August 10, 2020, alleged that ASAP engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by auctioning, selling or otherwise disposing of 33 vehicles owned by SCRA-protected servicemembers without court orders. The consent order requires ASAP to pay $99,500 to the servicemembers and $20,000 as a civil penalty. The consent order has a term of five years and requires ASAP to use Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) to search publicly available databases to check for military status before auctioning off vehicles.
     
  • On September 30, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Western Rim Investors 2011-4, L.P. , d/b/a The Estates At Briggs Ranch and Western Rim Investors 2011-3, L.P. d/b/a The Mansions At Briggs Ranch (W.D. Tex.).  The complaint, which was filed on September 28, 2020, alleges that two San Antonio-area landlords engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by imposing early termination charges against servicemembers who terminated their residential leases after receiving qualifying military orders and by denying other servicemembers’ requests to terminate pursuant to the SCRA.  The consent order requires the defendants to pay over $71,000 to compensate 45 aggrieved servicemembers. Defendants will also pay a civil penalty of $64,715.
     
  • On September 29, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Target Recovery Towing (M.D. Fla.).  The complaint, which was filed on August 18, 2020, alleges that the defendants violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. § 3958, by auctioning off a motor vehicle belonging to a United States Marine Corps Sergeant who was deployed to Japan, without a court order.  The consent decree requires the defendants to pay $17,500 to the servicemember and a civil penalty of $2,500, as well as to adopt new policies and procedures to avoid SCRA violations in the future. 
     
  • On September 17, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. City of San Antonio (W.D. Tex.).  The  complaint, which was filed on September 3, 2020, alleges that San Antonio engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by auctioning, selling or otherwise disposing of vehicles owned by SCRA-protected servicemembers without court orders. The consent order requires San Antonio to pay $29,000 to a United States Air Force Staff Sergeant and $18,000 to a United States Army Specialist and establish a $150,000 settlement fund to compensate other servicemembers whose SCRA rights may have been violated. San Antonio will also pay a civil penalty of $62,029.  The consent order has a term of eighteen months, requires the standard injunctive relief, including changes to policies and training, and provides for a total of $259,000 in monetary damages and civil penalties.
     
  • On January 30, 2020, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Levenson (D. Mass.). The complaint, which was filed on January 29, 2020, alleged that a landlord in Brookline, Massachusetts refused to return an overpayment of rent and delayed the return of a servicemember’s security after he properly terminated his lease under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  Under the consent order Defendant must pay $3,000 in damages to the servicemember and his wife, pay a civil penalty of $500 to the United States, report to the United States on SCRA compliance, and refrain from engaging in future SCRA violations.
Updated June 30, 2022

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