Court grants class-action status to Hispanic abuse suit

Tennessee Fair Housing Council
719 Thompson Lane, Suite 200
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 383-6155
Fax: (615) 383-8389

Court grants class-action status to lawsuit against apartment complex, security company whose guards abused a Hispanic resident

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Jerry Gonzalez, Attorney and Counselor, 360-6060
  Martha M. Lafferty, Staff Attorney, Tennessee Fair Housing Council, 383-6155

(NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 23, 2003) -- A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit over the abuse by security guards of a Hispanic resident at a Nashville apartment complex to proceed as a class action, which means that other victims of discrimination at the complex will be eligible for relief if the suit succeeds.

In his July 22 opinion, Federal Judge Tood J. Campbell ruled that the class will include all Hispanic non-Caucasian persons who were, are or will be residents of Ivy Woods Apartments on Patricia Drive in Nashville from June 28, 2000 through the end of the case.

Adolfo Chavez filed suit last year against Security Express Protective Services, Continental Property Management, First Management Services, Woodhaven Apartments Joint Venture and Roman R. Carnesolta.  The suit as amended alleges that security guards wrongly handcuffed Mr. Chavez after wrongly accusing him of driving drunk in the parking lot of Ivy Woods Apartments, where Mr. Chavez was a resident.

The suit alleges that the harassment and intimidation of Mr. Chavez and other Hispanic residents of Ivy Woods was due to their national origin.  Such targeted harassment is a violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act.

Further, the management companies named in the suit targeted advertising for Ivy Woods and other poorly maintained apartment complexes specifically to members of Nashville’s Hispanic community.  Meanwhile, the companies failed to advertise their more desirable complexes, such as Village at Vanderbilt, Wesley Place and Gazebo, in anything other than English in English-language media.  Discriminatory advertising, which amounts to illegal “steering” of Hispanics into certain apartment complexes and away from others, also is a violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act.

Allegations of abuse of Hispanics at Ivy Woods by security guards, some of whom were off-duty Metro police officers, was the subject of extensive news coverage in 1999.  Since that time, other residents have complained of continued abusive treatment by security guards at the complex.  The suit alleges that the management companies named in the suit consistently have failed to supervise the companies with whom they contract for security services to ensure that guards are not harassing and intimidating residents.

The case is Chavez v. Security Express Protective Services, LLC et al.  It is filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.  Its case number is 3:02-0611.

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