Here is another example of a recent Fair Housing Act lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”). I try to post case summaries in order to provide timely updates to real estate professionals about the "dos and don'ts" under the Fair Housing Act, since fair housing is such an important issue.
On Friday, June 19, 2009, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against the former owner and managers of Homestead Mobile Home Village, a mobile home park in Gulfport, Mississippi, for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against black tenants on the basis of race or color. The lawsuit also names as a defendant Indigo Investments LLC, the owner of Homestead Mobile Home Park at the time of the alleged discrimination.
The lawsuit alleges that Edward and Barbara Hamilton, the former managers of the mobile home park, unjustly sought to evict a black couple and their five minor children who had moved there after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. According to the lawsuit, the Hamiltons attempted to evict the family and other black residents for allegedly violating the rules of the park, but did not attempt to evict white residents for as many or more violations. The lawsuit also alleges the Hamiltons harassed and intimidated black tenants and that the defendants’ conduct constituted a pattern or practice of discrimination or a denial of rights to a group of persons.
The lawsuit arose from a complaint filed with HUD by two black residents of Homestead Mobile Home Village. The complainants also sought assistance from the Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center, a private, non-profit fair housing organization which provided additional information to HUD. After investigating the complaint, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and after one of the respondents named in HUD’s charge elected to have the case heard in federal court, the case was referred to the DOJ.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for those harmed by the defendants’ actions, civil penalties and a court order barring future discrimination. The lawsuit is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
I will try to follow this case and provide an update when the case is resolved.
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