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Summer 1996 Newsletter

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Case Updates

Cases Settled

Brannan v The Fourmidable Group

$10,000 Settles Disability Suit

When a water pipe burst in Phyllis Brannan’s apartment she asked the manager at Pine Valley Apartments to repair the damage one room at a time to accommodate her disability. They refused and Brannan, who had lived at Pine Valley for twenty-one years, was forced to move. The owners of Pine Valley, The Fourmidable Group, then sued Brannan for over $500 of her security deposit blaming her for the damage caused by the frozen water pipe. “It’s unfair when a landlord uses a bad situation to line their own pockets” commented Brannan.

Brannan called the Ann Arbor Tenants Union who in turn referred her to the Fair Housing Center of Washtenaw County. FHC Cooperating Attorneys Jonathan Rose and Jonathan Weber filed suit in Washtenaw County Circuit Court on behalf of Brannan, a retired teacher, claiming that Pine Valley refused to reasonably accommodate Brannan’s disability. The case was assigned to Judge Donald E. Shelton.


Harbor v Nam

The Harbor Family Settles

After their baby boy was born in 1995, the Harbors received an eviction notice. The Harbors were told, in writing, that because the new child was a boy, unlike their two older children, they would have to move. Tenants of Arbordale Apartments owned by Sang Y. Nam, the Harbors called the FHC with a complaint of discrimination based on sex and familial status. FHC Cooperating Attorneys Jonathan Rose and Jonathan Weber filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court on behalf on the Harbors. The case, claiming violation of the Michigan Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act was assigned to Judge Timothy P. Connors.


Y. Johnson v University Management

Yma Johnson Accepts $8,500 to Settle Race Case

Yma Johnson settled a race discrimination suit against University Management Inc. In June of 1994 Ms. Johnson and a white friend contacted the Fair Housing Center of Washtenaw County with a complaint of housing discrimination. The white friend told the FHC that the manager stated that he wouldn’t rent to Ms. Johnson because of her race. FHC­ Washtenaw County Cooperating Attorney Michael J. Steinberg filed suit on behalf of Ms. Johnson in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. The case was assigned to Judge Patrick J. Conlin. Center of Washtenaw County with a complaint of housing discrimination.


Schiller v McKinley

Family of Five Settles Two-Per-Bedroom Case

Scott and Candi Schiller have three children-one too many according to the rules of Meadowbrook Village Apartments in Ann Arbor. The Schillers contacted the FHC with a complaint of discrimi­nation based on familial status after they inquired about an apartment at Meadowbrook Village, a McKinley Properties complex. According to the Schillers, they were told that the complex had a limit of two people per bedroom. The FHC investigation found Meadowbrook units that were, according to the City of Ann Arbor housing code, large enough for five people. The suit was filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court by FHC Cooperating Attorneys Jonathan Rose and Jonathan Weber. The case was assigned to Judge Ann Mattson. The amount of the settlement was undisclosed.


Cases Filed

Taylor v Congress Park Apartments

Two-Year Housing Investigation Ends in Race Discrimination Suit Against Congress Park Apartments

Martha Taylor, her grand­ daughter Karrynn Taylor, and Karrynn’s mother Sunshine Welsh filed a race discrimination suit against Congress Park Apartments. Taylor is African-Ameri­ can and Welsh is white. “You people come in here to co-sign and can’t even afford your own house­ hold, let alone co-sign for someone else!” said rental agent Flossie Bennett, according to the suit.

These comments were made when Taylor and Welsh arrived at Congress Park Apartments to look at a unit. The suit also claims that Flossie Bennett asked if Sunshine’s boyfriend, an African-American man, would be moving in with her. Bennett, according to the suit, went on to say “You people just have baby after baby and then come in here expecting me to accommodate you.” Ultimately Bennett refused to rent them the two-bedroom unit.

Taylor contacted the Ann Arbor Tenants Union and was referred to FHC-Washtenaw where she made a complaint of race discrimination against the Ypsilanti Township complex. Testing over a two-year period by the FHC supports the discrimination claim. Taylor & Welsh are represented by FHC Cooperating Attorney’s Jonathan Weber and Jonathan Rose of Rose, Weber, and Pappas. The case, is filed in Wash­tenaw County Circuit Court and assigned to Judge Melinda Morris.


Patterson v The Pines of Cloverlane

Pines of Cloverlane Sued OverWheelchair Accommodation Issue

Deborah Patterson is suing The Pines of Cloverlane apartment complex, run by Insignia Management, for refusing to accommodate her disability. Patterson first requested modifications to the sidewalk and door to outside her building in December of 1994.

One year later an electric door was installed; however Patterson has been unable to make full use of the door because of a an improperly mounted remote control device and lack of modifications to the sidewalk.

Fair Housing Center Cooperating Attorneys Gayle Rosen, of Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, and Kathy Peterson filed the law suit in Washtenaw County Circuit Court alleging viola­tions of the Michigan Handi­cappers’ Civil Rights Act. The case is assigned to Judge Patrick J. Conlin.

Conlin was also the judge in the FHC-Washtenaw assisted case Franke v McKinley. Natasha Franke, a teenaged wheelchair user, asked that McKinley remove a set of stairs to her ground floor apartment. Attorneys for McKinley attempted to have Circuit Court Judge Conlin dismiss the case, claiming that under the Michigan Handicappers Civil Rights Act they were required to make the premises accessible only at the Franke’s expense. Judge Conlin denied McKinley’s request. In a written opinion citing law and legislative intent Judge Conlin concluded that the “…Defendant must accommo­date Natasha if it would not pose an undue hardship.” The Franke case settled for $18,500.


Wright v Eastwood Terrace

Woman Sues forRace Discrimination in Housing

Margaret Wright filed a race discrimination suit against Eastwood Terrace Apartments. Wright, an African-American woman. contacted the Fair Housing Center of Washtenaw County in August of 1995 with a complaint of race discrimination against the complex located in Ypsilanti Township.

In her complaint to the Fair Housing Center Wright stated that she believed she was being given false and incomplete information about the availability of units. Testing conducted by the Fair Housing Center supports Wright’s charge of discrimination based on race. Ms. Wright moved into Eastwood Terrace after new staff took over for manager Louise Pearson. FHC-Washtenaw Cooperating Attorney Steven Reed filed suit on behalf of Wright in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. The suit alleges violations of the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The case is assigned to Judge Karl V. Fink.


FHC-Detroit Joins Mortgage Discrimination Suit

The Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit filed a motion before Judge Avern Cohn to join the suit against Flagstar, formerly known as First Security Savings. FHC-Detroit is being represented by Cooperating Attorney Victoria A. Roberts of Goodman, Eden, Millender & Bedrosian. The original suit, Carson et al. v First Secu­rity Savings, was filed in U.S. District Court by FHC-Detroit Co­ operating Attorney Stephen R. Tomkowiak. Testing by FHC-De­troit supports the claim of discrimination based on race.


FHC says Goodbye
to Jordan-Rahman

After two years of Co-Coordinator of Investigations, Amy Jordan-Rahman is leaving the FHC to concentrate on her doctoral thesis. Amy is working on a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan. Her work has taken her to Mississippi this summer where she is interviewing those involved in the early stages of the welfare rights movement. Amy recruited and trained countless testers, assigned many, many tests, and supervised most of our student interns. We will miss Amy’s skill, humor, and good advice.

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