Savannah-Chatham County Fair Housing Council, Inc.
7 Drayton Street, Suite 206
Savannah, GA 31401
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SCFHC announces $680,000 judgment to settle racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit
On June 23, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge A. Randal Hall approved a Consent Decree ordering Bloomingdale Mobile Home Park operator Darwin Kenneth Morgan and his company DK Morgan Consolidated to pay a settlement totaling $680,000. Judge Hall ordered Morgan to pay the private plaintiffs $280,000 and pay the US Treasury $350,000 for eleven aggrieved parties identified by the US Department of Justice. In addition, Hall ordered an additional civil penalty of $50,000.00.
The lawsuit arose after the Savannah-Chatham County Fair Housing Council performed investigation through testing, and alerted the Civil Rights Division to Morgan’s discriminatory activities. The government conducted an independent investigation and uncovered additional evidence of discrimination, including more victims of the defendants’ conduct. The government’s suit, filed in September 2008, alleged, among other things, that Morgan denied the availability of mobile homes and/or mobile home lots to African-American persons while at the same time told white persons about available mobile homes and/or mobile home lots; refused to negotiate with African-American prospective tenants for rental; made statements with respect to the rental of mobile homes and/or mobile home lots at Morgan Mobile Home Parks indicating a preference, a limitation, or discrimination based on race or color; discouraged African-American persons from applying for a mobile home and/or mobile home lot while encouraging white persons to apply; and subjected female tenants and prospective tenants at Morgan Mobile Home Parks to discrimination on the basis of sex, including severe, pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment. The government’s lawsuit was subsequently consolidated with a related private suit that had been brought by the Fair Housing Council and three individuals.
“This case should send a strong message to private owners, landlords, and property managers that may have eluded enforcement of fair housing laws in our area,” said Savannah-Chatham County Fair Housing Council Executive Director Wayne Dawson. “This resolution makes available nearly 100 units of affordable rental housing to current and potential Savannah citizens. In addition, it sends a message that sexual harassment in peoples’ homes will not be tolerated. When harassment occurs in the workplace, it often ends at 5; when it occurs in one’s place of residence, it ends at the Courthouse steps.”
Fair Housing Council Executive Director Wayne Dawson can be reached at 912.651.3136.