Plaintiff, United States of America, initiated this Action on behalf of Kimberlie LeBlanc and Project Sentinel ("Plaintiff-Intervenors"), pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o) by filing a Complaint with this Court on or about April 29, 2009 ("Complaint"). Plaintiff-Intervenors were granted leave to intervene in this Action on October 5, 2009, and their Complaint in Intervention was filed as of that date ("Complaint in Intervention").
Defendant Workman Living Trust owns and manages rental residential property, including an apartment complex located at 760-780 Northrup Street in San Jose, California ("the Northrup Street Complex").Defendant Toni Stultz is employed by the Workman Living Trust as the on-site manager at the Northrup Street Complex. Defendant Terry Stultz resides at the Northrup Street Complex with his wife, Defendant Toni Stultz.
Collectively, the United States of America, Kimberlie LeBlanc, Project Sentinel and each of the Defendants are referred to herein as "the Parties."
The United States' Complaint, based upon an investigation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), alleges that on or about May 8, 2006, Kimberlie LeBlanc visited the Northrup Street Complex, and was allegedly told by Defendant Toni Stultz that the apartments were not set up for children, and the owners had a policy of not renting to children, although Ms. Stultz showed Ms. LeBlanc an apartment and provided her with an application for rent. Ms. LeBlanc reported the incident to Project Sentinel, a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California, which promotes fair housing practices for housing providers and consumers. Project Sentinel claims to have sent two testers to the Northrup Street Complex, one of whom allegedly represented herself as a woman living with another adult, while the other allegedly represented herself as a woman with a child. Defendant Terry Stultz is alleged to have told the tester who stated that she had a child that apartments at the Northrup Street Complex "were not set up for children," or words to that effect.
Each of the Defendants deny making any discriminatory statements alleged in the Complaint, the Complaint in Intervention or otherwise and adamantly assert they do not discriminate in housing on the basis of any protected classification. Further, Defendants contend they have rented to families with children both at the Northrup Street Complex as well as at other properties owned by the Trust and that both the Complaint and the Complaint in Intervention are without merit.
Ms. LeBlanc and Project Sentinel filed a complaint of discrimination with HUD on September 18, 2006. Following an investigation, on October 16, 2008, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Act. On October 29, 2008, Defendants elected to have the Charge resolved in a civil action in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a). The filing of this action followed on April 29, 2009, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o). The United States' Complaint alleges that the Defendants made statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination, or an intent to make such a preference, limitation or discrimination, based on familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).
In an effort to avoid costly litigation, the Parties have voluntarily agreed to resolve all claims which have been or could have been alleged in the Complaint and/or in the Plaintiff-Intervenor's Complaint in Intervention without the necessity of a trial and without the admission of any liability by any of the Defendants. Therefore, the Parties have agreed to the entry of this Consent Order and the exchange of other consideration referenced herein, as indicated by the signatures below.
JURISDICTION OF CONSENT ORDER
1. The Parties have consented to the entry of this Order. To this end, the Parties stipulate and the Court finds that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1345 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o).
2. The Defendants, their officers, agents, employees, successors and all persons in active concert or participation with them are enjoined, with respect to the rental of dwelling units at the apartment complexes located at the Northrup Street Complex, from making, printing, or publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on familial status, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.
NOTICE OF DEFENDANTS' NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY
3. Within ten (10) days of the date of entry of this Consent Order, Defendants shall post and prominently display in a suitable public area of the Northrup Street Complex, a sign no smaller than 10 by 14 inches indicating that Defendants comply with the nondiscrimination provisions of the Fair Housing Act. A poster that comports with 24 C.F.R. Part 110 will satisfy this requirement.
4. For the duration of this Consent Order, in all future advertising in newspapers, and on pamphlets, brochures and other promotional literature, and electronic media regarding the Northrup Street Complex, they shall place, in a conspicuous location, the statement "Equal Housing Opportunity" or the Fair Housing Logo.
MANDATORY EDUCATION AND TRAINING
5. Within 30 days of the entry of this Decree, each employee who is involved in showing or renting apartments at the Northrup Street Complex (presently, only Defendant Toni Stultz) as well as her husband, Defendant Terry Stultz, shall sign a statement acknowledging that he or she has received and read the Order, and had an opportunity to have questions about the Order answered. This statement shall be substantially in the form of Appendix A.
6. Within ninety (90) days of the date of entry of this Consent Order, Defendants Toni Stultz and Terry Stultz shall undergo training on the Fair Housing Act, with particular emphasis on the provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of familial status. Defendants represent and warrant that Defendant Toni Stultz is the only employee currently involved in showing or renting apartments at the Northrup Street Complex. The training shall be conducted by the California Apartment Association, Tri-County Division, and any expenses associated with this training shall be borne by Defendants. The United States has satisfied itself that the CAATri-County Division is an appropriate training provider.
7. Each person who undergoes training in accordance with the preceding paragraph shall execute a certificate of attendance in the form set out in Appendix B. Within ten (10) days of the date on which such person undergoes training, Defendant Workman Living Trust shall send a copy of that certificate to counsel for Plaintiff.
PAYMENT OF MONETARY DAMAGES TO PLAINTIFF-INTERVENORS
8. Defendants and the Plaintff-Intervenors in this matter have reached an agreement pursuant to which Defendants will make a monetary payment of $8,250 to the Plaintiff-Intervenors in the form of a check made payable jointly to Kimberlie LeBlanc and Project Sentinel. Payment shall be sent to counsel for the Plaintiff-Intervenors who shall hold such payment in trust until such time as the Plaintiff-Intervenors each have executed a Release of all claims, legal or equitable, that Plaintiff-Intervenors might have against any of the Defendants relating to the claims asserted in this Complaint and/or the Complaint in Intervention. (Appendix C). Plaintiff-Intervenors represent that they have a separate agreement dividing the proceeds of the settlement among them and that this separate agreement provides that each of them will receive from these proceeds a monetary amount which amount each Plaintiff-Intervenor independently and voluntarily agrees constitutes, ...