Indiana Civil Rights Com'n v. Wellington Village Apartments

Decision Date02 July 1992
Docket NumberNo. 49A02-9102-CV-92,49A02-9102-CV-92
Citation594 N.E.2d 518
PartiesINDIANA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION and William E. Barron, Appellants-Defendants, v. WELLINGTON VILLAGE APARTMENTS, Nottingham Village Apartments, Appellees-Plaintiffs.
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

Jacquelyn Thompson, Indiana Civ. Rights Com'n, Indianapolis, for appellants-defendants.

Matthew R. Clark, Clark, Quinn, Moses & Clark, Indianapolis, for appellee-plaintiff Wellington Village Apartments.

Richard A. Clem, Alden & Clem, Indianapolis, for appellee-plaintiff Nottingham Village Apartments.

SHIELDS, Judge.

William E. Barron (Barron) and the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (Commission) seek appellate review of the trial court's judgment in favor of Wellington Village Apartments (Wellington) and Nottingham Village Apartments (Nottingham).

We affirm as to Nottingham and affirm in part and reverse in part as to Wellington.

ISSUES

1. Whether the trial court erred in finding the Commission's decision is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and without observance of procedure required by law in that:

a. the Commission's findings of fact are based upon answers to requests for admissions that were not properly admitted or administratively noticed;

b. the hearing officer, by engaging in ex parte communications with counsel for the Commission, did not conduct the Wellington hearing in a manner to avoid the appearance of impropriety; and

c. the hearing officer improperly restricted Nottingham's cross-examination of Barron during the Nottingham hearing.

2. Whether the trial court erred in finding a lack of substantial evidence to support the Commission's findings of discrimination.

3. Whether the trial court erred in finding the Commission exceeded its statutory authority in awarding damages for emotional distress.

4. Whether the trial court erred in finding the Commission's splitting of the damage award between Wellington and Nottingham is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and without observance of procedure.

FACTS

This case involves a consolidated appeal of two separate Commission proceedings involving alleged housing discrimination by Wellington and Nottingham against Barron, an African-American. The Commission found that both apartment complexes had discriminated against Barron because of his race. The Commission awarded Barron his additional housing costs--a figure arrived at by averaging his probable housing costs at Wellington and Nottingham, then subtracting his actual costs for replacement housing. The Commission also awarded Barron $10,000 for mental distress. The Commission ordered Wellington and Nottingham to each pay half of the awards.

Both apartment complexes sought judicial review. In separate proceedings, the Marion Superior Court set aside the Commission's findings and remanded for further proceedings. Barron and the Commission seek appellate review of both decisions. In response to a joint petition, the cases were consolidated on appeal by this court.

The findings of fact, as originally recommended by the hearing officer and as amended and adopted by the Commission, are as follows:

[WELLINGTON] FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Barron is an adult black man who has resided, at all material times, in the state of Indiana.

2. Wellington is an apartment complex located on the east side of Indianapolis near one of the Interstate highways. It is a fairly large complex, having more than two hundred (200) units. Of these, eighteen (18) are three (3) bedroom apartments. The vast majority of the remainder are two (2) bedroom apartments.

3. Barron is an industrial electrician. He was employed as such at United States Steel's Gary Works for a little over seven (7) years until August of 1984 when he, along with a host of others, was laid off as part of a general reduction in force. Barron is also a licensed real estate broker and was associated with a Century 21 agency in Gary for some time.

4. After his layoff, Barron received both Supplemental Unemployment Benefits and unemployment compensation benefits. He received these benefits until such time as he commenced his employment with Ford Motor Company ("Ford") in Indianapolis.

5. Barron eventually obtained a position with Ford as an industrial electrician and began working in that capacity on April 22, 1985. This position is in the bargaining unit; however, there was a ninety (90) day probationary period during which Barron had no union protection. During 1985, Barron earned approximately Thirty-Six Thousand Dollars ($36,000.00) from Ford and during 1986, he earned about Fifty-Two Thousand Dollars ($52,000.00).

6. Until that time, Barron had resided in Gary with his family--his fiancee, who was pregnant and his three (3) year old daughter. He and his fiancee decided that he would start looking for an apartment for the family upon the completion of his probationary period.

7. Barron lived with his brother (not Charles) for about one (1) month. After that, he rented a one (1) bedroom apartment (Brigadier Apartments) on a month-to-month basis.

8. Barron's probationary period ended on July 22, 1985. Toward the end of the probationary period, he began to look at apartment complexes. He saw Wellington (from his car) and liked it.

9. Near the end of the month, Barron went to Wellington to inquire about renting an apartment. His brother Charles was with him. They entered the office and were eventually asked "May I help you?" by the lady at the counter, who has not been identified. Barron said that he would like a two (2) or three (3) bedroom apartment. She said none were available. Barron asked if anything was available and again she said no. When Barron asked if he could fill out an application, she said not unless there were apartments available. Similarly, she told him he could not leave his name and number since apartments were rented on a first come, first served basis. She did give Barron a brochure and told him, when he asked whether he should check back, to come in another month. This occurred in late July.

10. Barron returned to Wellington in the first week of September of 1985. Again, he inquired about a two (2) or three (3) bedroom apartment and was told none were available. He asked if he could see a model and was told that they did not have any. He also asked if he could leave a name and number and was told no, that apartments were rented on a first come, first served basis. When he asked if he could fill out an application, he was told "not unless something is available". Again, he was told to come back next month.

11. Barron returned to Wellington during the last week of September of 1985. Again, he was told that there were no two (2) or three (3) bedroom apartments available, given a brochure, and told to try again next month.

12. On November 21, 1985, Barron contacted a local housing authority and related his experiences in trying to rent an apartment in Indianapolis. This agency referred Barron to ICRC [Indiana Civil Rights Commission]. Before coming to ICRC, Barron made one (1) more visit to Wellington, on 13. Later on November 21, Barron filed the instant complaint with ICRC.

November 21. Once again, he was told there were no two (2) or three (3) bedroom apartments available, given a brochure and told to inquire again next month.

14. On December 11, 1985, certain employees of ICRC were sent to Wellington as testers to inquire into the availability of two (2) or three (3) bedroom apartments. Two (2) of these testers were Jaenicke, who is white, and Johnson, who is black.

15. Johnson arrived about 11:00 a.m. and spoke to a lady named Bobbie. He was told that there were no two (2) or three (3) bedroom apartments available then and to call back in the first week of January, 1986. Johnson recalls telling Bobbie that there were three (3) in his family. He also asked about completing an application and was told that this was not done unless something was available. His question about whether there was a waiting list was answered in the negative.

16. Jaenicke arrived at 1:25 p.m. and also spoke to Bobbie. Jaenicke told Bobbie that she needed a two (2) or three (3) bedroom apartment as soon as possible, or by January 1, 1986. Jaenicke told Bobbie that a three (3) bedroom apartment was needed since she and her husband had two (2) children--a four (4) year old boy and a two (2) year old girl. Jaenicke was told that Wellington definitely had a three (3) bedroom apartment (on the middle floor) that would be available in mid-January and that there might be a two (2) bedroom apartment available at about the same time. Jaenicke was also told that there were no models, that she could fill out an application later, that the rent was Four Hundred Twenty Dollars ($420.00) per month including water and sewage, that a deposit of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) would be required with the application, and that she should call back at the end of December.

17. Neither Johnson nor Jaenicke was actually interested in an apartment and any resemblance between the families they described and their actual families was purely coincidental. Both their interest and their families were designed to parallel Barron's in such a way that their treatment would tend to support, or refute, Barron's claims of racial discrimination.

18. Neither Johnson nor Jaenicke had seen the instant complaint nor been advised of its allegations. Both knew that there probably was a complaint as tests were usually not conducted otherwise. Both were given their "profile" by Mary Allen ("Allen"), then ICRC's Housing investigator.

19. It is true, as Wellington notes, that Johnson could not recall in detail what all he told Bobbie. It is also true, as Wellington fails to note, that Jaenicke succeeded Allen as Housing investigator and was trained by Allen that the characteristics of testers should match those of the complainant and should also match each other....

To continue reading

Request your trial
11 cases
  • Filter Specialists, Inc. v. Brooks
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 28, 2007
    ...trans. denied; ICRC v. Marion County Sheriff's Dep't, 644 N.E.2d 913 (Ind.Ct.App.1994), trans. denied; ICRC v. Wellington Village Apts., 594 N.E.2d 518 (Ind.Ct.App.1992), trans. denied, disapproved of on other grounds, Alder, 714 N.E.2d 632; ICRC v. Weingart, Inc., 588 N.E.2d 1288 (Ind.Ct. ......
  • Indiana Civil Rights Com'n v. Southern Indiana Gas & Elec. Co.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • March 31, 1995
    ...to demonstrate pretext." Burdine, 450 U.S. at 254, 255-56, 101 S.Ct. at 1094, 1094-95; Indiana Civil Rights Comm'n v. Wellington Village Apartments (1992), Ind.App., 594 N.E.2d 518, 530, trans. denied. The employer need not, at this point, prove that the reason alleged was the actual reason......
  • INDIANA CIVIL RIGHTS COM'N v. Alder
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Indiana
    • July 22, 1999
    ...e.g., Indiana Civil Rights Comm'n v. Washburn Realtors, Inc., 610 N.E.2d 293 (Ind.Ct.App. 1993); Indiana Civil Rights Comm'n v. Wellington Village Apartments, 594 N.E.2d 518 (Ind.Ct. App.1992); Indiana Civil Rights Comm'n v. Union Township Trustee, 590 N.E.2d 1119 (Ind.Ct. App.1992); Crutch......
  • Indiana Civil Rights Com'n v. Alder, 09A02-9611-CV-697
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 29, 1997
    ...was rejected; and (4) the purchase or rental opportunity remained available thereafter. Indiana Civil Rights Comm'n v. Wellington Village Apartments, 594 N.E.2d 518, 529 (Ind.Ct.App.1992), trans. Here, the record reveals that Stovall never applied for or otherwise requested housing in the m......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT