Beloit Black Couple Settle Rental Case for $173,000

A Beloit, Wisconsin African-American couple have settled a rent/purchase discrimination case for $173,000. The consent decree was entered in U S District Court in Madison, in a housing discrimination case against Fred R. Warner and Lou Jane Warner (his wife) who live in nearby Janesville.

The Beloit couple alleged that they had been discriminated against because of their race, in trying to rent, and eventually purchase a home in NW Beloit, owned by the Warners. The consent decree awarded Larry and Jewel Forrest $167,000 in damages. Century 21, Hart, Kruse & Boutelle Realty, although not a party to the lawsuit was awarded its lost commission of $3,780. The City of Beloit was awarded $2,049 to cover the costs of the investigation of the case by the Beloit Equal Opportunities Commission. In addition, the court directed that Fred Warner pay a forfeiture of $200 to the City of Beloit.

The Forrests were represented by attorney Percy L. Julian, Jr., of Julian, Olson & Lasker, S.C., Madison, Wisconsin and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. "To our knowledge, this is the largest award ever made for a single episode of alleged discrimination in a fair housing case in Wisconsin," attorney Julian said.

"Both the size of the award and breadth of the relief provided indicate that those who thinly they can play fast and loose with laws prohibiting discrimination in housing had better think again. These cases are now big dollar items. We hope that the relief provided in this consent decree will not only deter potential violators and encourage aggrieved victims to come forward, but will also encourage other lawyers to bring fair housing cases so that where a person may love in Rock County is, no longer determined by the color of his skin," Julian continued.

The decree requires the Warners to create a blind trust for the purpose of marketing the real estate they intend to sell, lease or rent, with a trustee to be appointed by the court, and requires the defendants to convey the house located at 855 Sherwood Drive, NW to the trust within 45 days. The trustee appointed by the court will have the exclusive power to sell, lease, rent or otherwise dispose of the property, and the Warners can have no further involvement in the sale, lease or rental. Other property in which the Warners hold an interest of 50% or greater, and intend to sell, lease, or rent within the next ten years is also subject to the trust according to the consent decree.

The consent decree requires Fred Wavier, at his expense, to arrange for and participate in a training seminar, either in Milwaukee or Madison, conducted by the Fair Housing Council, in which he will be trained concerning the provisions of and compliance with the fair housing laws of the U S, the State, and the City. He is required to complete the training within 180 days of the date of the decree.