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Pippens v Trkula

#W13-06 | Location: Monroe | Court Level: Federal | Settlement: $20,000

Categories: Familial Status, Rental
Tags: Children

Cicily Pippens of Monroe has settled her housing discrimination lawsuit against landlord Mildred Trkula for $20,000, with assistance from the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan. Ms. Pippens contacted the Fair Housing Center in January 2013 to report that the agent at a West Eighth Street property in the City of Monroe took a rental application away from her after the agent learned that she has two children.

The Fair Housing Center investigated the claim of housing discrimination by sending testers who acted as potential home seekers and reported their experiences to FHC staff. Testers visited the property at various times during the period of a month. The results of FHC testing strongly supported Ms. Pippens’ claim of discrimination based on familial status.

According to the lawsuit, the defendant, Mildred Trkula, told Pippens that “they really do not want children living here.” Ms. Trkula is the owner of the property. The lawsuit also states that the defendant told FHC testers “you can’t have kids,” “it is an adult unit,” and a non-FHC tester that when a previous tenant “found a girlfriend with kids” she, Ms. Trkula, “got rid of them.”

FHC staff met with Ms. Pippens in early February 2013 to discuss her options. Ms. Pippens discovered the FHC through a classified advertisement she found in the Monroe Evening News. The FHC places a daily ad in six local newspapers across our six-county service area. Ms. Pippens chose to go to litigation with a Fair Housing Center Cooperating Attorney, selecting Steve Tomkowiak to handle her case. On March 5, 2013, Mr. Tomkowiak filed Pippens v. Trkula in U.S. Federal District Court. The case was assigned to Judge Victoria A. Roberts and in November 2013, Judge Roberts found in favor of Ms. Pippens, resulting in a $20,000 settlement.

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