Ohio company sued for disability-based discrimination in 82 apartment complexes

Ohio company sued for disability-based discrimination in 82 apartment complexes
The lawsuit announced Thursday is against Miller-Valentine Operations Inc. and affiliated companies, owners, developers and builders of 82 multifamily housing complexes.

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio filed a lawsuit against an Ohio-based company for disability-based discrimination.

The lawsuit announced Thursday is against Miller-Valentine Operations Inc. and affiliated companies, owners, developers and builders of 82 multifamily housing complexes.

56 of the 82 complexes are located in Ohio. Of those, 14 are located in the Tri-State:

Indiana

  • Summit Pointe, Lawrenceburg, IN

Kentucky

  • Weaver Farm Apartments, Florence, KY

Ohio

  • Aspen Grove Apartments, Middletown, OH
  • Deerfield Crossing, Lebanon, OH
  • Harbour Cove Apartments, Cincinnati, OH
  • Harmony Senior Village, Williamsburg, OH
  • Indian Trace I, Oxford, OH
  • Indian Trace II, Oxford, OH
  • Lofts at One West High Street, Oxford, OH
  • Mallard Glen, Amelia, OH
  • Meadow View South, Springboro, OH
  • Riverview Bluffs, New Richmond, OH
  • Timber Glen II, Batavia, OH

In all, the complexes are located in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

The lawsuit says the company and its associates failed to design and construct housing units and facilities to make them accessible to people with disabilities in compliance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The 82 complexes involved contain more than 3,000 units that are required by the FHA to have accessible features, and most contain public spaces that are required to comply with the ADA, officials say.

Many of the complexes were built with the assistance of federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, officials say, or with the financial assistance of other government programs.

“We’re in the business of enforcing federal civil rights laws to their fullest extent,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman. “It doesn’t matter to us whether the defendant is an individual in a single neighborhood or, as here, a company operating in many states. The complaint that the United States filed today alleges not only that Miller-Valentine designed and built multi-family housing complexes that are not accessible to people with disabilities, but also that Miller-Valentine took public money to build those complexes and yet still built them such that some citizens wouldn’t be able to live there.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in Cincinnati, says that the 82 properties have significant accessibility barriers, including steps leading to entrances, non-existent or excessively sloped pedestrian routes from apartment unites to amenities, inaccessible parking, inaccessible bathrooms and kitchens, inaccessible door hardware, and insufficient maneuvering space at unit entrances.

“For over two decades federal laws have required multifamily housing complexes to be built with accessible features,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the rights of persons with disabilities to equal access to housing opportunities, including accessible dwellings and related facilities.”

Officials say the lawsuit seeks an order requiring the defendants to bring the properties into compliance with the FHA and the ADA. This will require the defendants to pay monetary damages to people affected by the lack of accessibility and civil penalties to the U.S., they say.

Through this lawsuit, the defendants will no longer be able to discriminate against people with disabilities through design or construct future residential properties, officials say.

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