A single mother from California won a $23,064 default judgment from a landlord who informed the woman that her children would not be able to play outside and subjected her to sexual comments and jokes during a tour of a rental house. The landlord made threats to countersue the plaintiff but never did. He refused to respond to the lawsuit, prompting Federal District Judge Margaret Morrow to issue a default judgment.
Jennifer Fleming of Rosemead received an offer from landlord Ken Fredricy to rent the house next to his residence, but it was not an offer she could accept given this landlords comments during her tour. Those anti-children and sexually discriminatory comments violated the Fair Housing Act, according to the Housing Rights Centers and Flemings complaint in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
Specifically, complaint alleged that while showing Fleming the house, the Fredricy told her about a rule that would have prohibited her children from playing outside in the front yard. This rule, along with sexual comments and jokes made during Flemings tour of the house, discouraged her from accepting Fredricys offer to rent.
On June 3, 2003, Judge Margaret Morrow granted the last of a series of motions by plaintiffs, under which Fredricy must pay a total of $23,064 in damages and attorneys fees to the plaintiffs.
No kids outside rules violate Fair Housing Act
Earlier, the judge had agreed with plaintiffs that the rule against children violated the Fair Housing Act and effectively denied Fleming equal housing opportunity. She ruled that while Fredricys sexual statements and jokes were reprehensible, they did not amount to sexual harassment. Judge Morrow also ruled that HRC was injured by the Fredricy and entitled to damages to cover its investigation and community education efforts. The plaintiffs were represented by Gary Rhoades and Danielle Jones from HRC.
Housing Rights Center v. Fredicy
No. CV 01-4631MMM (C.D. Cal. June 2003)
The Honorable Margaret M. Morrow, U.S. District Judge
Gary Rhoades and Danielle Jones, attorneys for Plaintiffs
Federal complaint filed: August 2001
Default Judgment: June 3, 2003