Justice Department Settles Allegations of Disability-Based Housing Discrimination with West Virginia Developer
The Justice Department announced today that developer Douglas Pauley and entities affiliated with him have agreed to pay $110,000 and make approximately $1.7 million in retrofits required to remove accessibility barriers at 30 apartment complexes, involving more than 750 units in West Virginia. The parties’ agreement will settle the United States’ claims that defendants had violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by building the complexes with a variety of features that made them inaccessible to persons with disabilities. The United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia approved the settlement yesterday.
Under the terms of the agreement, Pauley, as General Partner of 30 limited liability partnerships, must take extensive actions to make the complexes accessible to persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users. These corrective actions include replacing excessively sloped portions of sidewalks, installing properly sloped curb ramps to allow persons with disabilities to access the sidewalks from the parking areas, replacing cabinets in bathrooms and kitchens to provide sufficient room for wheelchair users, and reducing door threshold heights. In addition, defendants will pay $100,000 to establish a settlement fund for the purpose of compensating individuals with disabilities who have been impacted by the accessibility violations and $10,000 as a civil penalty.
“The Fair Housing Act protects the rights of persons with disabilities to have equal opportunities to enjoy the housing of their choice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division. “And this comprehensive resolution will ensure equal access to persons with disabilities at 30 apartment complexes and will compensate those injured by the failure to provide accessible housing.”
“Housing is a fundamental human need, and it’s deeply unfair to deny persons with disabilities equal access to it,” said Booth Goodwin, United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia. “Thanks to this case, the developer will be required to devote nearly $2 million to correcting and compensating for the harm that he and his companies have caused. That’s an important victory for West Virginians with disabilities.”
Individuals who are entitled to share in the settlement fund will be identified through a process established in the settlement. Notices of the settlement and a list of subject properties will be published in the Charleston Gazette. Persons who believe they were subjected to unlawful discrimination at one of those properties either when they lived there or considered living there should contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743 mailbox # 9993 or e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.