Federal and International

Justice Department Resolves Lawsuit Alleging Disability-Based Discrimination at Nine Multifamily Housing Complexes

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—February 24, 2014. The Justice Department announced today that a federal district court judge in Jackson, Miss., approved a settlement of the department’s lawsuit against the original owners and developers of nine multifamily housing complexes located in Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee.  The complexes contain more than 800 ground-floor units that are required by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to contain accessible features, and eight of the complexes contain leasing offices that are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to contain accessible features.  The lawsuit alleged that the defendants failed to include important accessible features at these properties.

Under the settlement, defendants The Bryan Company, Bryan Construction Company Inc., Steve Bryan, Mid-South Houston Partners, Mid-South Development LLC aka MSD LLC, The Vineyards Apartments LLC, Windsor Lake Apartment LP and Cypress Lake Development LLC must make extensive retrofits to meet FHA requirements.  These include reducing door threshold heights, replacing excessively sloped portions of sidewalks, installing new and properly sloped curb ramps, installing cane detection at stairwells, installing accessible door hardware and ensuring that there are a sufficient number of accessible parking spaces at the properties. 

“The Justice Department is deeply committed to ensuring equal access to housing for persons with disabilities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “This comprehensive settlement will ensure that individuals with disabilities will have an equal opportunity to live in and visit these nine apartment complexes.”

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working with the Civil Rights Division to ensure that those who design and construct multi-family apartment complexes comply with the Fair Housing laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis for the Southern District of Mississippi.  “This office remains vigilant in its efforts to eradicate discrimination and ensure that persons with disabilities have accessible accommodations in which to live.”

In May 2013, as part of the same lawsuit, the court approved a settlement resolving the department’s claims against nine architects and civil engineers who were involved with the properties.  Those defendants paid a total of $865,000 toward accessibility retrofits and $60,000 to compensate aggrieved persons harmed by the inaccessible conditions alleged in the lawsuit.  The following complexes will be retrofitted: Houston Levee Apartments in Cordova, Tenn.; The Vineyard at Castlewoods Apartments in Brandon, Miss.; Windsor Lake Apartments in Brandon, Miss.; Sutton Place Apartments in Horn Lake, Miss.; Twin Oaks Apartments in Hattiesburg, Miss.; Oak Hollow Apartments in Southaven, Miss.; Spring Lake Apartments in Jackson, Miss.; Cypress Lake Apartments in Baton Rouge, La.; and Pelican Pointe Apartments in Slidell, La. 

The FHA prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability.  Title III of the ADA requires, among other things, that public accommodations comply with specific requirements related to architectural standards to ensure accessible public and common use areas.  More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at the website.  Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, email the department or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.

Source: justice.gov