EAST ST. LOUIS – A group of residents
claim their landlords discriminated against them based on race and whether they had minor children.
Paul Lambert, Mary Holder, Barbara
Holder, William Frey, Pamela Purdiman, Shameka Nelson and Kimberly
Simelton, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated,
filed the suit against the Alexander County Housing Authority and four other
named defendants May 10 in U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois East St. Louis Division.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs have been long-term
residents of the housing authority, and the defendants each worked at the authority as
executive director. The plaintiffs allege the defendants have discriminated against residents of the
McBride and Elmwood family housing developments based on their race
and whether they have minor children.
The plaintiffs allege the defendants violated the
Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Illinois
Civil Rights Act of 2003.
The suit further alleges the
defendants have allowed the two housing developments, where
approximately 97 percent of the residents are African-American, to
fall into disrepair while still charging more than they should for
In February, the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development took over operations of the ACHA, the suit states.
In addition to a trial by jury, the
plaintiffs seek class action status, a permanent injunction that the
ACHA stop the alleged discrimination, monetary relief in the amount of
all rent overcharges, compensatory damages, punitive damages in an
amount to be proven at trial, attorney fees and court costs.
The plaintiffs are represented by
Christopher J. Wilmers of Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick & Dym
Ltd. in Chicago, and Katherine E. Walz and Kevin Herrera of the
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago.
U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois East St. Louis Division Case number 16-cv-513