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Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley, Inc., Gabriela Lopez v. Sanford A. Katz

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


November 10, 2011

FAIR HOUSING COUNCIL OF SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, INC., GABRIELA LOPEZ, AND ELSY QUEVEDO,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SANFORD A. KATZ, AS TRUSTEE OF SANFORD A. KATZ AND CAROLYN R. KATZ INTER-VIVOS TRUST OF 1979; CAROLYN KATZ, AS TRUSTEE OF SANFORD A. KATZ AND CAROLYN R. KATZ INTER-VIVOS TRUST OF 1979; STATEWIDE MANAGEMENT, INC., AND MIGUEL DELOYA,
DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Otis D. Wright United States District Judge

CONSENT DECREE RE ALL DEFENDANTS

I. INTRODUCTION

This action was brought by plaintiffs Gabriela Lopez, Elsy Quevedo and the Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley (FHCSFV) alleging that defendants Sanford Katz, Carolyn Katz, Statewide Management, Inc. and Miguel Deloya violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq. and related state laws. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that defendants, acting through their agent, Miguel Deloya, engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination and harassment against female tenants on the basis of sex in connection with their ownership and operation of the Lanark Court Apartments, located at 21715 Lanark Street in Canoga Park, California. Defendants have denied all material allegations in this action.

Plaintiffs and defendants have agreed that in order to avoid protracted and costly litigation, the controversy should be resolved without trial or adjudication on the merits, and therefore have consented to the entry of this decree and order. By entering into this consent decree, defendants make no admission of liability or wrongdoing in connection with the allegations and claims made by plaintiffs.

It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that:

II. MONETARY TERMS

1. Defendants shall make a monetary payment for damages in the form of a check made payable to the Attorney-Client Trust Account of Brancart & Brancart in the amount of two hundred sixty-five thousand dollars ($265,000.00) in full settlement of all claims in this action, including attorneys' fee and costs. This check shall be delivered to Brancart & Brancart, 8205 Pescadero Road, Loma Mar, CA 94021 within 10 days of entry of this decree.

III. RELEASE TERMS

2. Subject to the terms of this decree, plaintiffs and defendants shall execute mutual waivers and releases indicating that this decree constitutes a full and final settlement of any and all claims that they have related to the subject matter of this lawsuit. Those mutual waivers and releases shall include a waiver of all known and unknown claims under California Civil Code § 1542.

IV. EQUITABLE TERMS Defendant Miguel Deloya

3. Within 30 days of entry of this decree, defendants agree that defendant Miguel Deloya shall cease and desist from any management of any rental dwelling. It is understood by the parties that defendant Miguel Deloya shall, along with his counsel, execute a stipulation for entry of a separate consent order, which provides: Within 30 days of entry of this decree, defendants agree that defendant Miguel Deloya shall cease and desist from any management of any rental dwelling.

4. Within 30 days of entry of this decree, defendants agree that defendant Miguel Deloya shall cease and desist from any contact with any present or former female tenant of the Lanark Court Apartments and any females who become tenants of the Lanark Court Apartments subsequent to the entry of this decree, excluding his family members. It is understood by the parties that defendant Miguel Deloya shall, along with his counsel, executed a stipulation for entry of a separate consent order, which provides: Within 30 days of entry of this decree, defendants agree that defendant Miguel Deloya shall cease and desist from any contact with any present or former female tenant of the Lanark Court Apartments and any females who become tenants of the Lanark Court Apartments subsequent to the entry of this decree, excluding his family members.

Lanark Court Apartments

5. Within 180 days of entry of this decree, defendants Sanford Katz, Carolyn Katz and Statewide Management, Inc. shall retain a California Apartment Association ("CAA") Certified Residential Manager to serve as the onsite manager at the Lanark Court Apartments.

6. Defendants shall permit FHCSFV access to the Lanark Court Apartments for purposes of conducting resident outreach and an on-site informational session with residents about their rights and responsibilities as tenants. The parties shall work in good faith to determine a mutually agreed upon time, place and manner for these activities to be conducted.

Operation of Residential Rental Properties

7. Within 30 days of entry of this decree and continuing thereafter for its duration, defendants Sanford Katz, Carolyn Katz and Statewide Management, Inc. shall in connection with the ownership, operation or management of any residential rental property:

a. Provide a copy of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) pamphlet entitled Fair Housing -- You Are Protected Under California Law (Official Form DFEH-157H [Exh. 1 hereto]) and its Spanish version (Official Form DFEH-157HS [Exh. 2 hereto]) to each tenant household and to each prospective tenant who inquires about inspection or rental of a dwelling available for rent;

b. Post the DFEH Fair Housing Poster in English (Official Form DFEH-164H [Exh. 3 hereto) and its Spanish version (Official Form DFEH-164HS [exh. 4 hereto]) in a prominent location at the property where it may seen by tenants and prospective tenants;

c. Post on the manager's office door a notice, written in English and Spanish, stating the contact information, including telephone number, at which any person may make a complaint about the management or operation of the property and further stating that defendants will have available persons who can speak Spanish to accept complaints. Defendants shall maintain a log of each of these complaints and indicate the resolution of each complaint;

d. Adopt a sexual harassment policy, provided to and signed by each employee or agent involved in the management*fn1 of residential rental property, stating that the employee or agent will be terminated if there is reasonable cause to believe that he or she has engaged in sexual harassment;

e. Revise any rules that govern tenancy at any residential rental property to remove any limitation or preference based on familial status and provide a copy of those rules, written in English and in Spanish, to each tenant household (defendants' adoption and promulgation of rules that conform with the language and standards adopted by the California Apartment Association shall be deemed compliance with this provision);

f. Advertise any dwelling available for rent in accordance with the requirements prescribed under HUD's Fair Housing Advertising Guidelines, formerly codified at 24 C.F.R. § 109 and presently available at www.hud.gov (Exh 5 hereto); and,

g. Require, as a condition of employment, that each employee or agent involved in the management of residential rental property attend annual fair housing trainings, completed before each anniversary date of the entry of this decree. That training shall be provided by FHCSFV, free of charge, at a mutually agreeable site; however, defendants shall be responsible for providing the facility at which each annual training is conducted.

V. NOTIFICATION OF COMPLIANCE

8. Defendants shall provide the Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley, 8134 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 206, Panorama City, CA 91402, with a certificate of compliance with the terms of this decree within 90 days of entry, and shall retain the original in their records. This notice may be accomplished by way of a letter to the FHCSFV.

VI. NO RETALIATION

9. The parties hereby acknowledge that it is unlawful to retaliate against any person because that person has made a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in a proceeding under the Fair Housing Act.

VI. DURATION AND ENFORCEMENT

10. This decree shall be in effect for a period of four years from the date of entry. It will terminate at the end of the four-year period without the need for any further action by the Court or the parties.

11. The Court shall retain jurisdiction for the purposes of enforcement of the terms of this decree. The parties shall attempt in good faith to resolve any disputes that arise under the terms of this decree. Only after good faith attempts have been exhausted will the parties request the assistance of the Court in resolving such disputes.


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