Fair Housing Center Logo.
Five of the female plaintiffs of a case, posed with the discriminatory ad from the case.

Coates et. al. v Myers

#W98-127 | Location: Ypsilanti | Court Level: Federal | Settlement: $166,200

Categories: Rental, Sex
Tags: African American, Black, Sexual Harassment

They all answered the same ad: “FEMALE NEEDED. Elegant home, near WCC. Jacuzzi, laundry, $280+. 527-0724.” and now, Rachel Coates, Amanda Coffin, Erin Cuniffe, Cynthia Moening, Dawn Ottinger and Sarah Ruggles have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against their former landlords, Raymond Scott Myers and his parents, Ernest and Becky Myers. The six-bedroom house is located on North Hewitt Road in Ypsilanti.

Although the women, some of whom had never met, lived at the house at different times in 1998 and 1999, all reported a similar pattern of behavior from Scott Myers and each moved out because of Myer’s sexually threatening behavior. An initial group of women contacted the FHC in the Fall of 1998 and decided to pursue litigation. Other women were added to the case as they contacted the FHC for assistance.

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; touching tenants in an unwelcome, sexually suggestive manner; place sex devices in tenants’ rooms and common areas of the house; viewing and storing pornographic material in the common areas of the house; entering and attempting to enter the bathroom when in use by tenants; and performing sexual acts in tenants’ bedroom and bathrooms during their absence.

“We want this unlawful behavior to stop,” aid complainant Amanda Coffin, “We are trying to help other women from falling into his trap.” Two complainants, Erin Cuniffe and Sarah Ruggles also claim race discrimination. According to the suit, Myers initiated the eviction process against Cuniffe and Ruggles after they each brought African-American friends to the house.

On October 23, the FHC announced the settlement of a civil action for sexual harassment. The case ended with a pre-trial settlement that provided the requested injunctive relief and the payment of $166,200 in damages to six women plaintiffs. This represents the largest FHC-assisted settlement in the organization’s eight-year history.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the consent decree permanently bars Raymond Scott Myers a.k.a. Scott Myers from direct personal contact with any woman or other protected person in the course of a housing transaction. Through this court order, the women have accomplished their goal of preventing Myers from using his rental business as a means of victimizing future tenants. Additionally, Myers’ parents, who were co-owners of the property, are permanently prohibited from funding or otherwise participating in any rental business or other housing transaction where their son might have access to the premises or personal contact with female renters or buyers.

Fair Housing Center of Washtenaw County Cooperating Attorney Henry Stancato of Stancato & Tragge, filed the lawsuit in Federal District Court on behalf of the group. The case is assigned to Judge Gerald E. Rosen.

Learn More

Stay Informed

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to keep up to date on our cases, events, and other fair housing news.