It is understood that in all “settled” cases reported on this site, the defendant, unless otherwise noted, denies the allegations of discrimination made by the plaintiff, and the parties have agreed to resolve the case prior to a trial on the merits. Cases are listed by date of intake.
Click on a case to learn more, or use the filters and map to explore our work by basis and location.
Daniel Black, a man with dwarfism, has settled his lawsuit after a five-year struggle against Capitol Commons Apartments and First Housing Corporation in Lansing. Mr. Black spent years asking his federally subsidized housing provider, Capitol Commons, to outfit his bathroom with a roll-in shower to accommodate his disability. He also requested that the building install an […]
People in recovery are considered disabled under fair housing law. When the City of Howell blocked Amber Reineck House (a home for women recovering from substance use disorders) from opening, we contacted founder Courtney Atsalakis offering our help. We provided the City with many examples of similar fair housing cases decided in favor of people […]
Lisa Helmreich was looking for housing for herself, her husband, and their teenage son. Her son has a disabilityand requires an emotional support animal (ESA), a small dog. She found out through her husband’s co-worker thata unit was coming available at Ottawa Apartments in Iosco County. Rental housing in the area is difficult to find, […]
Deborah Patterson is a woman who uses a wheelchair. Ms. Patterson lived in the same accessible apartment in Pittsfield Township for well over 20 years. As the result of an FHC-aided lawsuit in 1999, a power door and ramp at the end of her hallway were installed, giving her wheelchair access to the outdoors. Fast […]
Verdell and Julie Franklin, an interracial couple, resolved their race discrimination lawsuit against two Livingston County Realtors and their brokers. The Franklins tried to purchase a lake home near friends when their sales agent told them that the owner would only take a full-price, cash office with no inspection. She refused to submit their offer […]
Damarkus Jefferies contacted the FHC to report being denied an apartment at Huron Heights/Huron Ridge Apartmentsin Ypsilanti Township. Testing supported the allegation that Mr. Jefferies, a Black man, was denied because he had afelony on his record. HUD guidelines from 2016 prohibit case updates housing providers from having blanket “no felony” policies. The lawsuit was […]
Andrea Grieb contacted the FHC to report that she was denied an apartment because she had a child. Ms. Grieb responded to an online ad advertising the apartment. After asking Ms. Grieb to describe her family situation, the owner responded in part by writing, “I have always been leery of renting either of the upstairs apartments to anyone with children.” The owner cited concerns including the stairs and the noise that children make.
Pamela Groth contacted the Fair Housing Center in November 2020. Ms. Groth, who lives with a physical disability, asked to be let out of her lease without a penalty so she could move to an accessible apartment. Garden Court Apartments insisted that she pay the equivalent of two months’ rent to end her lease early. FHC Cooperating Attorney Daniel Gwinn filed the lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Groth. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount in December 2020.
Marsha Ladiski contacted the FHC to report a problem with getting a reserved accessible parking space and a proper sign to mark it for her use only. While the case began as a simple request for reasonable accommodation, it went on to include months of stalling on the part of the management company, Woda Cooper, and threats of retaliation from the manager, Penny Lalonde.
The Fair Housing Center filed a race discrimination lawsuit against Capital Investments, owner of the The Flats Apartments in Ypsilanti. Filed on April 23, 2020 by Cooperating Attorney William Piper, the suit alleged a violation of HUD’s guidance regarding criminal background and tenancy selection. “The [HUD] Guidance is not ambiguous; it clearly explains how broad-based criminal background policies that rely on criminal histories cause a disparate impact on people of color, how automatic blanket bans that categorically exclude applicants as a result of their criminal histories are not necessary to satisfy a legitimate business interest, and that giving individualized consideration to applicants based on factors such as the nature of conviction and evidence of rehabilitation is a less discriminatory alternative that satisfies legitimate interests in protecting safety and property.” Filed in the Federal Court, the case was assigned to he Honorable Sean F. Cox. The case settled for $20,000 and a change in the tenant screening policy.
Sarah Yoder contacted the Fair Housing Center in August 2018 to file a sexual harassment complaint against Ryan McDonell. Ms. Yoder says she was asked to do a striptease in exchange for negotiating a lower rent.
Former MSU student (now graduate) Malahni Ngalle contacted the FHC when she was denied the ability to rent from Grad Apartments in East Lansing. Based on comments made to her by the owner, she believed she was denied because of her race.
The Civil Rights Litigation Initiative won a victory for Monroe resident Sheila Ashley in a disability discrimination case. Ms. Ashley accepted $5,000 from a Monroe area Real Estate broker, Edward Pipis, to resolve her fair housing complaint. “I am very, very pleased with the way this turned out,” said Ms. Ashley.
Jennifer Anderson told FHC staff that she was denied the right to rent an apartment in the Burns Park neighborhood, near her children’s school, because she had two kids. FHC testing supported her claim of discrimination based on familial status. Ms. Anderson first asked FHC to contact the agent and try to negotiate a settlement before she took further legal action. The agent and owner refused. A familial status complaint was then filed with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Still unable to come to an agreement with the owner Richard Yarmain or the agent Edward B. McIntosh, Ms. Anderson moved to file in Federal District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan. Filed by law students Diane Kee and David Fegley through the University of Michigan Civil Rights Litigation Initiative Clinic on September 25, 2020, the case was assigned to the Honorable Paul D. Borman. The students were supervised by Clinic Director Michael J. Steinberg. The lawsuit quickly settled for $15,000.
Scott Lorms has an emotional disability and was denied the opportunity to look at or rent a property because he lives with two emotional support animals. Because they were denied housing, Mr. Lorms and his family had to rent more expensive housing that was much further away from his work, friends, and family. Fair Housing Center Cooperating Attorney Francyne B. Stacey filed the fair housing complaint in U.S. Federal District Court on July 31, 2019. The case was assigned to the Honorable Nancy G. Edmunds. The case was resolved, on February 11, 2020, for an undisclosed amount.
According to the complaint taken by the FHC in the fall of 2017, although Ms. Hicks need for an emotional support animal was well documented, East Lansing Sorority Alpha Omicron Pi refused to allow her live with her emotional support animal, a two-pound Netherland Dwarf Rabbit named Sebastian. The FHC-aided lawsuit Hicks v AOII was settled in September 2019 for an undisclosed amount. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights was also a part of the case and opposed the respondent’s claim that because they are a private club, they are exempt from all aspects of the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Act.
Sarah Tankson contacted the FHC for help getting permission from her landlord to install a wheelchair ramp in front of her unit at Randolph Court Apartments. After months of working on her own, she and her aide Karen Kelsey, contacted a local TV Station. The story showing Ms. Tankson crawling up the stairs to her apartment prompted a licensed builder to construct the ramp without charge (donations from Ms. Tankson’s church covered the materials). Letters from FHC staff asking for permission to build as a reasonable accommodation of Ms. Tankson’s disability led nowhere. Randolph Court staff and owners stalled the ramp construction until the lawsuit was filed. The case was filed in U.S. Federal District Court on March 15, 2017, and settled for a non-disclosed amount in July 2017. Sarah is now able to access her home.
Denise Cox and her mother accepted $40,000 to settle their case against Hastings Mutual Insurance Company and East Bay Manufactured Home Community. Citing insurance company breed restrictions, the property refused to allow her to keep her emotional support animal, a pit bull called Kylee. Ms. Cox lived on the property with Kylee for two years without incident. To avoid an eviction from their mobile home, Ms. Cox was forced to be separated from her dog.
The suit against the mobile home community, East Bay, as well as the property’s insurance company, was filed on September 9, 2016 by FHC Cooperating Attorney Steve Tomkowiak. The case was assigned to the Honorable Victoria A. Roberts.
On October 17, 2016, Kylee was allowed to return home. The settlement agreement also included changes in policies by both East Bay Manufactured Home Community and Hasting Mutual Insurance Company. Hasting Mutual agreed to modify its underwriting rules relating to its animal policies and accommodation requests, and undertake staff training regarding assistance animals. East Bay agreed to modify its community rules and regulations regarding requests for emotional support animals.
Chelsae Lakin accepted an undisclosed amount to settle her fair housing case. The suit was filed October 14, 2015 by FHC Cooperating Attorneys Stephen M. Dane and Joseph Wardenski from Relman, Dane, & Colfax with assistance from local Cooperating Attorney Thomas Daniels of Pear, Sperling, Eggan, & Daniels. FHC testing supports rental agent Chelsae Lakin’s claim that her now-former employers, Sakti and Papri Pramanik, instructed her to discriminate against families with a child. Ms. Lakin contacted the FHC on her first day of work. The case was assigned to the Honorable Thomas L. Ludington. FHC Board of Directors presented Chelsae Lakin with the first Fair Housing Board of Directors Award at our 2017 Fair Housing Breakfast. Chelsae was honored for “boldly standing up for equal housing opportunity in her role as a housing professional.”
Sunshine Welch contacted the FHC to report discrimination based on disability at an Ypsilanti Township apartment. FHC testing supported her claim of discrimination based on mental/emotional disability. FHC Cooperating Attorney Steve Tomkowiak filed suit on behalf of Ms. Welch in U.S. Federal District Court n January 28, 2015. The case was assigned to the Honorable David M. Lawson and settled in December, 2016.
Paula Scott accepted a non-disclosed amount to settle her race discrimination claim against Swan Creek Mobile Home Community in Ypsilanti Township. Ms. Scott contacted the Fair Housing Center to report that she received an eviction notice after her 17 year old daughter was the victim of an assault by the mother of another resident in the mobile home park. The Scott family is African American and the other family is white. The agent for the Swan Creek took a statement from the white family, but never spoke with the Scott’s. Mr. Tomkowiak filed suit on behalf of the Scott family against Swan Creek in U.S. Federal District Court. The case was assigned to the Honorable Bernard A. Friedman. The case settled on July 21, 2015 following a settlement conference before Magistrate-Judge Michael J. Hluchaniuk.
Phillip Cusumano, who uses a wheelchair and has a visual impairment, contacted the Fair Housing Center to report blocked sidewalks in his mobile home community. FHC staff wrote a letter to the property manager asking them to enforce their own community rule that prohibited residents from parking on or otherwise blocking the sidewalks, so that Mr. Cusumano could safely travel around the community. Despite repeated requests by Mr. Cusumano, his wife, and the FHC, the housing provider failed to comply. As a result, the Cusumanos filed claims under the Federal Fair Housing Act and Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, seeking to require the housing provider to enforce its own rule (non-monetary relief) and for compensatory and punitive damages (monetary relief). The case was filed by FHC Cooperating Attorney Steve Tomkowiak on August 14, 2014, assigned to the Honorable Matthew F. Leitman, and settled on August 23, 2016.
A University of Florida professor has filed a federal lawsuit against Tree City Properties and owner Catherine Alawi stating that she was denied the rental of a two-bedroom apartment because she has two children. After receiving the complaint from Dr. Barnett, FHC staff went to the Ann Arbor Department of Community and Building Services to inquire about the occupancy standards for the apartment in question on Greenwood Avenue. A representative of the City stated that the two-bedroom unit could accommodate three people. The Fair Housing Center staff met with Dr. Barnett and informed her of her rights under the Fair Housing Act. FHC Cooperating Attorney Jonathan Weber filed the case in Federal Court on December 19, 2012. The case was assigned to Judge Gerald E. Rosen.
The FHC initiated a housing discrimination lawsuit against several multi-family apartment properties in Michigan owned, operated, and/or managed by Sudi Hopper. Testing showed evidence of discrimination against families with children. The properties include Parkside Apartments in East Lansing, Holt Manor Apartments in Holt, and Kelly Manor Apartments in Owosso. FHC testing supported the claim. The case settled on August 30, 2016.
Cicily Pippens accepted $20,000 to settle her familial status complaint against Mildred Trkula. FHC testing supported Cicily Pippens’ claim of discrimination. Ms. Trkula must attend fair housing training and a lien is placed on her properties until the settlement is paid in full. FHC Cooperating Attorney Steve Tomkowiak filed the case in U.S. Federal District Court on behalf of Ms. Pippens. The case was assigned to Judge Victoria Roberts.
Hargraves v Spiridakos was filed in U.S. Federal District Court in February, 2012. Plaintiff Matthew Hargraves contacted the FHC after a property owner in Okemos, Michigan refused to allow him to rent a house because he has four children. FHC testing supported his claim of discrimination based on familial status. FHC Cooperating Attorney Jonathan Weber filed on behalf of Mr. Hargraves. The case was assigned to Judge Robert Holmes Bell. This is the first FHC-Southeast-aided fair housing suit to come from Ingham County. FHC staff and volunteer testers were deposed prior to the $10,500 settlement. A portion of the settlement will pay for fair housing training for the owners.
Peg Ball has a disability, uses a wheelchair, and makes use of a trained service dog called Deniro. She contacted the FHC to report a Livingston County property owner who said he would, under no circumstances, take a tenant with a dog. FHC advised Ms. Ball to write a letter to the owner explaining that Deniro was a service animal and not a pet. FHC testing supports the claim of disability discrimination by confirming the no service animal policy. FHC Cooperating Attorney Jonathan G. Weber filed the case in U.S. Federal District Court on behalf of Ms. Ball. The case was assigned to Judge George Carem Steeh.
James Newby, Sarah and Joshua Drummonds, and the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan accepted $40,000 to settle their claim against the Woodcrest Condominium Association and managers Barbara and Allan Diedrich. The suit claimed discrimination based on race, familial status, age and disability. The complex, located in Monroe, Michigan, was sued in 2000 for discrimination based on familial status. For five years, pursuant to a consent decree with the United States Department of Justice, Mr. and Mrs. Diedrich attended annual fair housing training with the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit which thoroughly outlined their duties under fair housing laws. Testing completed by the Fair Housing Center found evidence of disparate treatment for prospective co-owners on the basis of race, age, familial status and disability. FHC Cooperating Attorney Jonathan G. Weber filed suit on behalf of all three plaintiffs in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The suit, filed on March 2, 2009, was assigned to Judge John Corbett O’Meara.
Cassandra Kraehnke contacted the FHC to report that her family was denied the rental of a mobile home in Monroe because she had one child and was pregnant with a second. Ms. Kraehnke said the agent told her that the property had a “one child policy” and thus her family could not live there because she was expecting a second child. FHC testing supported their claim. FHC Cooperating Attorney Michael Gatti filed the case on behalf of the Kraehnkes. The case was assigned to Federal Judge David M. Lawson.
After several years of testing Ivanhoe Apartments for possible violations of fair housing law, the FHC filed suit against the owner and resident manager of the housing complex. To investigate allegations of race discrimination the FHC sent African-American and white test teams to Ivanhoe Apartments. Testing evidence supported the claims of race discrimination. The FHC Board voted to act a plaintiff. Cooperating Attorneys D. Scott Chang and Stephen M. Dane from the law firm of Relman & Dane, and Stephen R. Tomkowiak filed the case on behalf of the Fair Housing Center. Judith Levy and Holly Lincoln from the Department of Justice represented the U.S. The case was assigned to Federal Judge Sean F. Cox.
FHC Cooperating Attorney Jonathan G. Weber filed suit on behalf of the Hatch family in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The suit, filed on February 15, 2010, was assigned to Judge Arthur J. Tarnow. Testing by the Fair Housing Center supported a claim of discrimination based on race. Four of the five members of the family are African-American.
Dawn Simpson told the FHC that an agent from Arbor Apartments said that she and her toddler son could not share a one bedroom apartment. Testing, and advertising on their website supported a claim discrimination based on familial status. FHC Cooperating Attorneys Jonathan Weber filed suit on behalf of Ms. Simpson in U.S. Federal District Court, the case is assigned to George Caram Steeh.
Initially, two women contacted the Fair Housing Center to report allegations of sexual harassment by property manager Glen Johnson in Ypsilanti Township. In each case, the women reported being offered housing, but were pushed to trade sexual favors for repairs or keys to the property. FHC staff and Liz Elkiss, a law student from the University of Michigan, did research to find other possible victims. FHC contacted the U.S. Department of Justice and met with Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Levy to discuss the case. The Department of Justice used their resources to find additional victims. The owner of the rental homes is Washtenaw County Commissioner Ronnie Peterson. The case was tried in front of Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr. After about five days of testimony, the jury awarded a total of $115,000 to six victims. On March 4, 2011, the U.S. Federal District Court entered a post-trial order for additional injunctive relief and civil penalties totaling $82,500. (The order requires Johnson to pay a $55,000 civil penalty, the maximum civil penalty for a first violation of the Fair Housing Act, and orders Peterson to pay a $27,500 penalty.)
As Mitch Abrams and his wife Sue Dible contacted the FHC with discrimination complaint after they tried to rent an apartment in Ypsilanti with their two young sons. Testing and statements made to FHC staff supported their claim of discrimination based on familial status. FHC Cooperating Attorney Jonathan Weber filed suit on behalf of the Abrams-Dible family in U.S. Federal District Court, the case was assigned to Judge Victoria Roberts.
As a reasonable accommodation of his disability, Warren Salinsky asked Courthouse Square to move him to the 10th floor where there are no smokers. The managers said no, but a letter from FHC changed their minds. Mr. Salinsky was told that the only open unit (Unit A) had serious repair problems and Courthouse Square said they had no idea how long the renovations would take. Months went by and then Mr. Salinsky, whose disability effects breathing, heard about another 10th floor apartment (Unit B). Concerned that Courthouse Square might misrepresent the availability of unit B (a unit without repair problems), FHC staff (identifying themselves as such), accompanied Mr. Salinsky to the office to inquire about “any other unit on the 10th floor.” The rental agent repeated that only Unit A was open, and in the midst of renovation. On the same day, FHC sent a tester to find housing for her grandmother. The same agent showed our tester Unit B saying her grandmother could move in ASAP. Cooperating Attorney Steve Tomkowiak agreed to take the case to stop Courthouse Square from renting Unit B to anyone else. A few days later Warren Salinsky moved into Unit B and the case was filed in federal court.
Forest Hills Cooperative started eviction proceeding against Gwen Fjellman based the behavior of her disabled child. Legal Services of South Central Michigan requested that Forest Hills drop the eviction plan as a reasonable accommodation of the child’s disability. When the request for reasonable accommodation was refused, FHC Cooperating Attorney Gayle Rosen immediately filed a fair housing case in Federal Court. The case is assigned to Judge David M. Lawson.
Mike Lowrey contacted the Fair Housing Center because his “barrier free” apartment had some accessibility problems. During our investigation we discovered that only four first floor units in the complex were made accessible. According to the Fair Housing Act, all multi-family housing built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, must adhere to seven design requirements regarding wheelchair accessibility for ground floor units. We also found problems with the side walks, lack of access to the mailbox and other common areas of the property. Over the summer Mr. Lowrey attempted to sit by the pool while his guests swam. He was forced to sit outside the pool area because the only ramp leads to a locked Club House. FHC Cooperating Attorney J. Mark Finnegan filed the case in Federal Court on behalf of Mr. Lowrey in July 2006. FHC Board of directors voted to intervene in the case. Cooperating Attorney Steve Dane of Relman & Dane represented the FHC. Both cases were assigned to Judge Nancy Edmonds.
In 2001 Felton Luckett, an African-American man, told the FHC that he was accepted and later denied tenancy at Town & Country Apartments on Carpenter Road. Undercover testing supported Mr. Luckett’s race discrimination claim and Cooperating Attorney Steve Tomkowiak helped settle the case for $5,000. After the case settled, Attorney Tomkowiak wrote to the owners strongly encouraging staff training in fair housing law. In 2005 another Town & Country complainant came to us alleging race discrimination, again FHC testing supported the claim. Because the complainant did not wish to take legal or administrative action, the FHC Board of Directors voted to act as plaintiffs. Steve Tomkowiak filed the case in U.S. Federal District Court. The case was assigned to Judge Avern Cohn.
Nikia Holland, an African-American woman, and her white friends Suzanne and Eric Trader accepted $47,500 to settle a race discrimination case against the owners of Camelot Apartment in Ypsilanti Township. In 2005, Ms. Holland and her friend contacted the FHC to complain about the manager. Their complaints led to a court action filed in United States District Court before Federal Judge Bernard A. Friedman, Case Number 07-10543. Their complaint alleged: the use of racial epithets, harassing white tenants to stay away from African-American friends and tenants, and failing to make repairs in Ms. Holland’s apartment. Testing evidence supported their claims of race discrimination against Camelot Apartments. The case was litigated by FHC Cooperating Attorney Jonathan G. Weber.
Kathleen Beswick and Robert Wahlberg have disabilities. They asked for a reserved parking space as a reasonable accommodation. FHC staff asked for the accommodation in writing with a deadline of late November 2004. Despite promises from the manager, no sign was provided. FHC Cooperating Attorneys Rose & Weber filed the case in Federal Court on behalf of Ms. Beswick and Mr. Wahlberg in April 2005.
Alfreda and Devon Keck filed a racial discrimination suit against Kensington Court Hotel, located at 610 Hilton Boulevard in Ann Arbor, MI. The African-American couple went to Kensington Court to book their wedding reception and hotel rooms for October 2005. When the Keck’s attempted to book the facilities and rooms they were refused on multiple occasions, stating that the events manager would call them to set things up. After two weeks of stopping by the hotel and trying to make arrangements to no avail, Mr. and Mrs. Keck turned to the FHC for help. FHC testing supported their claim of race discrimination. FHC Cooperating Attorney Stephen M. Dane of Relman & Dane filed the case in U.S. Federal District Court on March 12, 2007. The case was assigned to the Honorable Robert H. Cleland. This case was sent back to the Federal District Court Judge Robert H. Cleland for trial after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the opinion on May 21, 2009 and order granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
After living in Fairway Trails Apartments for three months Harry Tyus asked if, instead of the first week of the month, he could pay his rent after his Social Security disability check arrived. He liked the location and convenience of the apartment but not the monthly $50 late fee on his rent. FHC staff requested for accommodation on behalf of Mr. Tyus. Instead of an accommodation, Mr. Tyus received an eviction notice. Legal Services attorney Henry Wolfe responded to the eviction with fair housing counter claims. In fall 2004 Washtenaw County Judge John B. Collins ordered the complex to accommodate Mr. Tyus’ request. The complex in turn refused to renew his lease, forcing him to move. FHC-Southeast worked with Mr. Tyus to file a HUD complaint. On May 8, 2006 Judith Levy, Assistant US Attorney in Detroit, filed suit claiming retaliation against Mr. Tyus. FHC cooperating attorney J. Mark Finnegan represented Mr. Tyus. The case was assigned to Judge John C. O’Meara of the US Federal District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division.
Carol Frye has a disability. When she could no longer manage without a wheelchair, she made a written request to Keystone Management for a ramp to the entrance of her apartment. She also requested an accessible shower. In a letter denying her request, the regional property manager states “Our contractor advised us that a ramp would not be possible as there is not enough room to install one to ADA code”. FHC staff asked architect David Esau to look at Ms. Frye’s front steps. Within 24 hours Mr. Esau had drawings of a ramp and suggestions on how to install a shower unit. FHC staff made a second request for reasonable accommodation in writing along with Mr. Esau’s design. No ramp was provided. FHC Cooperating Attorney J. Mark Finnegan of Heberle & Finnegan filed the case on behalf of Ms. Frye. The case was assigned to Judge John Feikens.
Leslie Brown contacted the FHC with a complaint of discrimination based on race. Ms. Brown is African-American. FHC testing supported her claim. FHC Cooperating Attorneys Jonathan Rose and Jonathan Weber filed the case on behalf of Ms. Brown. The case was assigned to Judge Denise Page Hood.
Pregnant with her first child, Pamela Russman told the FHC she was denied the right to look at an apartment because she was expecting a baby. Testing supported her claim of discrimination based on familial status. Filed by FHC Cooperating Attorney Denise M. Heberle of Heberle & Finnegan, the case was assigned to Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff.
Christina Bevins was eight months pregnant with her first child when she contacted the FHC. She told FHC staff that the owners of Mick Apartments in Milan offered her an apartment and later turned her down because a baby would be living in the unit. Testing, and a taped phone message, supported this claim. FHC Cooperating Attorneys Jonathan Weber and Jonathan Rose filed suit on behalf of Ms. Bevins in U.S. Federal District Court, the case was assigned to Judge Gerald E. Rosen.
Marie Dukes, who uses a walker, asked Carpenter Place Apartments for a reserved parking space closer to the front entrance of the building. When they refused, Mrs. Dukes contacted the Fair Housing Center. FHC staff wrote a letter to Carpenter Place asking for the parking space as a reasonable accommodation of Mrs. Dukes’ disability. When the deadline for action passed, Mrs. Dukes was referred FHC Cooperating Attorney, J. Mark Finnegan for litigation. Mr. Finnegan filed suit on behalf of Mrs. Dukes in Federal Court, the case was assigned to Judge Patrick J. Duggan. Mrs. Dukes told FHC staff that the complex provides an inadequate amount of handicapped parking. When Mrs. Dukes couldn’t find a space and parked where she could manage, Carpenter Place immediately towed her car. Shortly after the litigation was filed, Mrs. Dukes received a reserved parking space and agreed to settle the case for $3,500.00. “I think it’s wonderful, it is so much better,” said Mrs. Duke about her new parking space.
Samadai Caldwell, the mother of two, contacted the FHC to report an apartment owner who didn’t want to rent to anyone with children under four years old. Ms. Caldwell’s daughter was two at the time. Testing of the owner supported Ms. Caldwell’s claim of discrimination based on familial status. FHC Cooperating Attorney Steven Tomkowiak filed suit on behalf of Ms. Caldwell in U.S. Federal District Court, the case was assigned to Judge Arthur J. Tarnow.
Edward Salowitz filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Ann Arbor Realty and the Weatherstone Condominium Association. Earlier this year the Condo Association began fining Mr. Salowitz, who has Multiple Sclerosis, for parking in the handicapped parking space nearest his unit. Mr. Salowitz had used this parking space since 1993. Mr. Salowitz asked Ann Arbor Realty and the Association permission to use this parking space as a reasonable accommodation of his disability. When they refused, Mr. Salowitz contacted the FHC for assistance. When the fines continued, FHC referred Mr. Salowitz to Cooperating Attorney, Steve Tomkowiak for litigation. Mr. Tomkowiak filed suit on behalf of Edward Salowitz and his wife Susan in U.S. Federal District Court, the case was assigned to Judge John Corbett O’Meara. In the end the case settled for $7,500 and a complete re-grading of the front yard and road outside the Salowitz’s building.
When Rashawnda and Marcus Mackey, an African-American couple, were denied a unit at Parkhill Apartments, Ms. Mackey was suspicious. She contacted the FHC to report the denial. FHC Coordinator of Investigations Mary Bejian sent teams of African American and white testers to the Ypsilanti apartment complex. Testing supported Ms. Mackey’s claim of race discrimination. The Mackey’s decided on litigation and chose FHC Cooperating Attorney Steve Tomkowiak. Mr. Tomkowiak filed suit on behalf the Mackey’s in U.S. Federal District Court, the case was assigned to Judge Denise Page Hood. In 1997 FHC assisted Pamela Thomas with a suit against Parkhill. Her familial status case settled for $7,500.
The Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living and The Ability Center of Greater Toledo settled their disability discrimination lawsuit against Coral Ridge Apartments in Monroe, Michigan. The suit alleged violations of the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1989. Both plaintiffs are non-profit disability advocacy groups. The Ann Arbor CIL has an office in Monroe. According to the Fair Housing Act, all multi-family housing built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 must adhere to seven design requirements regarding wheelchair accessibility for ground floor units. The only access to the common areas of the buildings at Coral Ridge apartments were staircases with five or six steps. The groups were represented by Stephen M. Dane and Dusty R. Tinsley of Cooper & Walinski.
Su-Juan Robeson accepted a $2,500 mediation award to settle her disability complaint against The Meadows. Ms. Robeson, who is disabled, needed a railing along the three steps up to her front door and a parking space near her unit. A letter requesting reasonable accommodation was sent by FHC staff. The Meadows responded by erecting a rickety, splintering railing and denying her request for a handicapped parking space. Cooperating Attorney Eric M. Spector filed suit on behalf of Ms. Roberson in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, the case was assigned to Judge Melinda Morris. The lawsuit claims violations of the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act.
Felton Luckett, an African-American man, told the FHC that he applied for an apartment at Town & Country Apartments on Carpenter Road. Not only had he applied, he had been accepted and signed a lease to begin January 1, 2001. When he called Town & Country to arrange moving in he was told the unit had been rented to someone else and that he would have to wait until February. When he called in early February, the manager told him that he had to wait for his unit to be re-carpeted. Later Mr. Luckett was told that they decided not rent to him. Undercover testing supported Mr. Luckett’s race discrimination claim. The case was filed in U.S. Federal District Court. The case was assigned to Judge Paul D. Borman.
Two men, Shannon Moody and Robert Stowe, accepted $20,000 to settle their sex discrimination suit against Roland and Joan Frey of Ann Arbor. According to the suit, Roland and Joan Frey refused to rent their Potter Street apartment to two men. Moody and Stowe contacted the Fair Housing Center to report the incident. Male and female testers were used to support the claim of discrimination based on gender. Stowe and Moody initially asked FHC staff to resolve the case without litigation. The Frey’s, through their attorney, offered the men $100.00 to settle the case. Filed in Federal District Court, by Fair Housing Center Cooperating Attorney Steve Tomkowiak, the case was assigned to Judge George Caram Steeh.
Single parent Sapphira Azizuddin contacted the FHC to report that she was denied an application for a one-bedroom townhouse because she planned to share the unit with her child. Testing supported this claim. FHC Cooperating Attorney Eric Spector filed on behalf of Ms. Azizuddin in U.S. Federal District Court, the case was assigned to Judge Bernard A. Friedman.
Paul Harbrecht has a hearing impairment and requested an amplifier for the buzzer/intercom system of his apartment at Baker Commons. When no amplifier was installed Mr. Harbrecht asked the FHC to help. In November of 2000 FHC staff made another request for reasonable accommodation. Ericka M. Jackson of Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz filed on behalf of Mr. Harbrecht in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, the case was assigned to Judge David S. Swartz. The amplifier was installed after Mr. Harbrecht filed suit.
FHC Cooperating Attorney Gayle Rosen filed suit on behalf of Stacey and Bradlee Chapman. According to Mrs. Chapman, her family was denied the rental of a duplex apartment in Milan, Michigan because her then fourteen-year-old son would be living in the apartment. According to the suit David Latham, owner of the apartment, advised the Chapmans that he would not be interested in renting to a family with a teenaged child. Testing by the FHC supported the Chapman’s claim of discrimination based on familial status. Filed in Federal District Court, the case was assigned to Judge John Corbett O’Meara.
Sean Herring told the FHC he was refused an apartment reserved for “graduate students only”. The UM undergraduate contacted the FHC for an investigation of age discrimination. FHC testing found that the Ludwigs were willing to show the apartment to older undergraduates (in their 30′s and older) while undergraduates in their 20′s were told about the graduate student only policy and not invited to see the unit.
Soon after Aaronica Warren contacted the police to report an incidence of domestic violence by her former boyfriend, the Ypsilanti Housing Commission sent her an eviction notice. Focusing on a HUD one-strike policy, the Ypsilanti Housing Commission contended that Ms. Warren should be evicted because, according to her lease, a tenant “will be responsible for the household regardless of whether or not he or she was personally engaged in the prohibited … criminal action on the premises.” Ms. Warren was referred to Cooperating Attorneys Debra McCulloch and William Thacker of Dykema Gossett through the ACLU of Michigan. The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court, alleged discrimination based on sex and asks that the Housing Commission be prohibited from evicting tenants because they are the victims of domestic violence.
Six women filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against their former landlords, Raymond “Scott” Myers and his parents, Ernest and Becky Myers. Although the women had never met, all reported a similar pattern of behavior from Scott Myers. According to the lawsuit filed at the end of May 1999, Scott Myers engaged in a range of behavior including: making unwelcome sexual advances to tenants; placing sex devices in tenants’ rooms and common areas of the house; and performing sexual acts in tenants’ bedrooms and bathrooms during their absence. FHC Cooperating Attorney Henry Stancato, of Stancato & Tragge, filed the lawsuit in Federal District Court on behalf of the group. The case was assigned to Judge Gerald E. Rosen. According to the terms of the settlement, Mr. Myers and his parents are barred from the housing rental business.
Refusing to count her student loan as income in their rent calculations, Wilson White denied University of Michigan student Jamie Ewen an off-campus apartment. Ewen came to the FHC and then filed suit in state court under the City of Ann Arbor Human Rights Ordinance. Believed to be the first case filed under the Ann Arbor city ordinance since city council voted to grant the right to private action, this case was filed by Attorney Nick Roumel from University of Michigan Student Legal Services.
Romain Realty was sued in Federal court on allegations of race discrimination. Amelia Fonte attempted to take over a lease for a Romain efficiency apartment in late 1997. According to the lawsuit, after viewing the unit the exiting tenants told Ms. Fonte they were “desperate” to get out of their lease. Ms. Fonte, who is African-American, told FHC staff that she went to the Romain Realty office where she was told the unit had been rented. Testing conducted by the FHC supported Fonte’s claim of race discrimination. FHC Cooperating Attorney Ericka M. Jackson of Sommers, Schwartz, Silver and Schwartz, P.C., filed suit on behalf of Ms. Fonte. The case was assigned to Judge George E. Woods.
The Washtenaw Association for Community Advocacy (WACA) filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Oakridge Apartments in Ypsilanti Township for not adhering to seven basic design requirements regarding wheelchair accessibility for ground floor units and units on other floors reachable by elevator.
Pamela Williams has a disability that requires the use of a wheelchair. Williams sued LeForge Villa for refusing to provide a ramp outside of her unit to accommodate her disability.
Larry Pike is deaf. He requested a reasonable accommodation of his disability in the form of a lighted doorbell for his second floor apartment. When the owners of Harbour Club Ltd. refused to provide the accommodation requested under the Michigan Handicappers’ Civil Rights Act, Pike filed suit through Cooperating Attorney David Michael Stokes of Michigan Protection and Advocacy.
Stacey Faulk sued Holiday Star Apartments on the basis of familial status. Faulk told the FHC she was denied an apartment because she has a child. According to the suit, the owner stated that no children were allowed and that the apartments were for students. Faulk said she told the agent that it was illegal for him to discriminate and that he told Faulk to go ahead and sue him.
Cooperating Attorney Richard McHugh and co-counsel Michael Gatti, from Legal Services of Southeastern Michigan, defended Alissa Schwabb in the eviction proceedings and filed a counter claim in Washtenaw County Circuit Court alleging violations of the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act based on familial status. The complex is managed by Charles Reinhart Company. Schwabb sued Reinhart along with the Pattengill Condominium Association Board President, a Board member and a resident.
Carol Pryor contacted the FHC when her landlord charged her over $2,000 after she moved from her three-bedroom townhouse. Pryor told the FHC she was forced to move because Woodland Meadows failed to install a railing on the stairs to accommodate her disability.
Rob and Carla Baty, a white couple, contacted the FHC to investigate a claim of race discrimination in their apartment building. Testing done the FHC supported their claim of race discrimination. FHC Cooperating Attorney Michael J. Steinberg filed suit on behalf of the NAACP, after the group was alerted to the testing evidence.
Margaret Wright contacted the FHC to investigate her claim of race discrimination. Wright is African-American. Testing done the FHC supported Ms. Wright’s claim of housing discrimination. FHC Cooperating Steven A. Reed filed suit on behalf of Wright in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
Deborah Patterson sued The Pines of Clover Lane for refusing to modify the sidewalk and door to the outside of her building to accommodate her disability. Cooperating Attorneys Gayle Rosen of Michigan Protection and Advocacy and Kathy Peterson filed suit Washtenaw County Circuit Court on behalf of Patterson who uses a wheelchair.
Janine Battistone has two daughters, one who uses a wheelchair. She attempted to rent from David Johnson. Battistone told the FHC that Johnson refused to allow her to apply for the unit because he didn’t think the unit would meet her needs and because he couldn’t afford to install a ramp (Battistone offered to pay for the ramp herself).
Fountain Church of God in Christ, an African-American church, attempted to purchase land zoned A-1 (agricultural) and have a conditional use permit issued in order to build a new church. On a 4-3 vote, and against the advice of their planning consultant, the Planning Commission denied the conditional use permit to Fountain COGIC. An investigation conducted by FHC found that Fountain Church was the only house of worship to be denied a conditional use permit by the Scio Township Planning Commission since 1978. Filed in Federal District Court by Cooperating Attorney Benjamin Whittfield, the case was assigned to Judge Avern Cohen.
Sharon Lewis contacted Cooperating Attorney Michael J. Steinberg after the managers of Williamsburg Village Apartments told Lewis that her African-American boyfriend couldn’t move in because of his race (Lewis is white). Steinberg then referred Lewis to the FHC for an investigation of her claim. Testing supported Lewis’ claim and Steinberg filed a lawsuit on behalf of the couple.
The mother of two small children, Pamela Thomas tried to rent at Parkhill Apartments in Ypsilanti. Ms. Thomas claims she was denied housing because Parkhill did not allow children above the first floor and there were no first floor units available.
Sarah Tankson is an African-American woman with a disability. The FHC took a complaint on Tankson’s case when Arbor Apartments staff stated that they did not take SSI, Tankson’s source of income. Tankson also reported being treated rudely in the Arbor Apartment’s offices. FHC testing and a statement from a witness support Tankson’s claim of discrimination based on race and disability.
The Schillers, a couple with three children, were denied housing at McKinley-owned Meadowbrook Village apartments because Meadowbrook has a two person per bedroom limit. The Schillers told the FHC that the bedrooms at this complex were unusually large. FHC investigation concluded that one of the two bedrooms was large enough for three people.
Melanie Morrison, a woman with a visual impairment contacted the FHC with a complaint of discrimination based on disability and on sex. Morrison contacted the FHC to say she was denied the opportunity to rent a house because of her disability and sex.
Oscar Matts contacted the FHC for advice on his discrimination claim against Lakeview Mobile Home Park. Matts, who uses a wheelchair, was attempting to get reimbursed for sidewalk widening that allowed him full access to his van from his mobile home.
Debra Johnson sued Stadium Apartments for familial status discrimination. Johnson planned to rent a two-bedroom unit for her and three children. Testing and a witness statement support the claim.
Yma Johnson called the FHC to investigate her claim of race discrimination. Johnson’s case was tested and a letter from Johnson’s white would-be roommate supported the race discrimination allegation.
After the birth of their third child, the Harbors received an eviction notice. The notice stated that because their new baby was a boy, they would have to move out, and had the baby been a girl (like their two older children) they might have made an exception for them to stay. FHC Cooperating Attorneys Jonathan Rose and Jonathan Weber filed the suit.
Phyllis Brannan worked with FHC Cooperating Attorneys Jonathan Rose and Jonathan Weber to file suit against Pine Valley Apartments. The suit claims violation of the Michigan Handicapper’s Civil Rights Act (now the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act). Brannan claims that Pine Valley refused to repaint her unit one room at a time to accommodate her disability.
Stacey Faulk tried to rent an apartment near the EMU campus. She contacted the FHC to report that Barbara Maes turned her away after Faulk said she would share the unit with her new baby. FHC Cooperating Attorney Michael J. Steinberg filed suit after FHC attempts at conciliation were unsuccessful.
Regina Armstrong told the FHC she was forced by the owner to move out of her apartment after she complained of noise from the neighbors. Armstrong claims the owner moved her into another building with no cold running water. FHC testing supported Armstrong’s claim of discrimination based on familial status.
Susan Krohn sued Ken Land, claiming that he refused to accommodate her disability.
Martha Taylor contacted the FHC claiming she was denied the right to co-sign for a relative’s apartment because she is African-American. Taylor told the FHC that she was insulted by the owner and told that no two-bedroom apartments were available. FHC testing supported Taylor’s claim of race discrimination.
Marlys Magennis worked with FHC Cooperating Attorney David Cahill to file a familial status suit against Edna Shoner. The Magennis family includes a teenaged son. FHC testing supported Magennis’ claim.
Hillary Runyon filed suit against the Wests claiming discrimination based on familial status. Runyon told the FHC she was denied a unit for herself and two children because, according to the owner, the unit was too small for her family. Testing showed the owner’s willingness to rent to a group of three adults.
Tashie Hawkins (mother of two) was denied the opportunity to apply for a two-bedroom apartment at Maplewood Apartments, because according to Hawkins, they have a policy prohibiting a brother and sister from sharing a bedroom.
Single parent Margaret Shannon contacted the FHC to report that she was denied a one-bedroom apartment because she planned to share the unit with her child. A caption on the Camelot Apartment’s application stated a policy of one person or one couple per bedroom.
The Wilcoxes claim they were denied the opportunity to move into a duplex because the existing neighbors did not want to live next door to children.
Carmel Oliver contacted the FHC to report that she was denied a two-bedroom apartment because she had a son and a daughter, and was told that children of the opposite sex couldn’t share a bedroom. The case claimed discrimination based on sex and familial status.
The Worthys, an African American family, accused Briar Cove of discrimination based on race. FHC testing supported their claim.
Cheryl Helm filed suit against the owner of Stimson Apartments claiming discrimination based on familial status. Helm said she was denied an apartment because she has a son.
Natasha Franke filed suit against McKinley Properties for refusing to accommodate her disability. Ms. Franke asked that McKinley remove a set of stairs leading to her first floor unit.
The Codringtons, a Black family, attempted to rent a three-bedroom house for themselves and their three children. The owner told them she didn’t want to rent to a family of five. The owner told a white FHC tester with the same size family, that she could rent the house.
Gretchen Fogel and Carla Daniels, a lesbian couple who have been a family for 15 years, were denied the opportunity to apply jointly for a two-bedroom unit because they were not related by blood or law. A suit was filed claiming discrimination based on sex, marital status and sexual orientation. This case is believed to be the first time that marital status and sex provisions of the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act were used to uphold the housing rights of a same sex couple. According to the settlement agreement University Townhouses will “treat same sex couples in the same matter as it treats unmarried couples for the purpose of accepting and acting on applications for membership…”, along with paying an undisclosed cash settlement.
Mary Vaughn sued EMU for discrimination based on race and national origin. Vaughn alleged that she was fired from her job as a property manager for refusing to discriminate against Asian students.
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