San Diego Hispanic Case Settled for Record $85,000

Federal Judge Napoleon A. Jones, signed a consent decree in February that is believed to be the largest fair housing settlement in San Diego county history.

The $85,000 settlement, resolved a suit filed in July of 1993, alleging that the owners and operators of the Essex Manor apartments violated the Fair Housing Act. The suit alleged that the 150 unit complex systematically discriminated against Hispanics.

The landlord agreed to pay the money to settle a lawsuit which contended that management violated the rights of Hispanic persons under the Federal Fair Housing Act and related state fair housing laws. Specifically, the suit alleged that 2 different sets of rules were written and enforced, one in Spanish and one in English. The set of house rules written in Spanish included the statement, "Don't play like animals. This is not Mexico. Please respect." There was no wording or words to that effect that appeared in the set of house rules written in English.

The suit also alleged that management told homeseekers because of their national origin, that dwellings were not available for rental when there were available units. The landlord denied any wrong doing as part of the settlement. Following various incidents of harassment and the issuance of the separate rul es, tenants were referred to the Fair Housing Council of San Diego in April of 1993. Following an investigation by the Council, Attorney Christopher Brancart, was contacted by the Fair Housing Council to handle the case. He represented the two families in the case - Gabriel and Tammy H ilario and Victoria Vasquez and her two children.