Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination v. Wattendorf

Decision Date30 November 1967
Citation353 Mass. 315,231 N.E.2d 383
PartiesMASSACHUSETTS COMMISSION AGAINST DISCRIMINATION v. George V. WATTENDORF.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

John J. Roche, Special Asst. Atty. Gen., for petitioner.

No argument or brief for respondent.

Before WILKINS, C.J., and SPALDING, CUTTER, KIRK and SPIEGEL, JJ.

WILKINS, Chief Justice.

The petitioner has appealed from a decree dismissing its petition to have the respondent adjudged in contempt for violation of a decree entered on October 26, 1964, which ordered the respondent (1) to 'cease and desist and in the future refrain from making any inquiry, distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of color or race in the conduct of any phase of respondent's business'; and (2) to 'order all persons who act for him or in his behalf to cease and desist and in the future refrain from making any such distinction, discrimination or restriction.'

The facts were found by the trial judge. The respondent conducts a real estate office in the Dorchester District of Boston for the sale and rental of residential properties. The sales manager in charge of that office is one Coleman. On or about October 20, 1965, one Matthews, a Negro, went to the office and inquired as to the availability of a four to five room apartment for himself, his wife, and two children at a rental of $100 to $110 a month. Matthews said he would pay more than $110 if the apartment was worth it. He specifically asked about such apartments in certain sections of Dorchester, and was told by Coleman that none was available. Within a day of two Matthews returned to the office, and Coleman again told him that no apartments of the type he desired were available. In fact there were available one or more apartments of the type, character, location, and price range specified by Matthews. Coleman did not disclose this information because of Matthews' race.

The judge found that 'Coleman, in acting as a broker or rental agent, discriminated against Matthews because of his race and color,' but was 'unable to find that the respondent Wattendorf had actual knowledge of Coleman's conduct or that he authorized or participated in the discriminatory conduct of Coleman.' The findings continued: 'The only direct evidence on the point is that Wattendorf had instructed his employees not to discriminate against Negroes. Therefore, I do not find that Wattendorf intentionally or personally violated the decree by discriminating among applicants for housing on the basis of color or race. The evidence falls short of proof of 'the clear and undoubted disobedience which is required for the foundation of a petition for contempt'. See United States...

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12 cases
  • United Factory Outlet, Inc. v. Jay's Stores, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • February 4, 1972
    ...v. Dowd, 342 Mass. 462, 464, 174 N.E.2d 346 (charges in contempt petition held not sustained); Massachusetts Commn. Against Discrimination v. Wattendorf, 353 Mass. 315, 231 N.E.2d 383 5. In each of the cases just cited the charge of civil contempt ran (primarily at least) against individual......
  • Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, Inc. v. Commissioner of the Dept. of Mental Retardation
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • March 13, 1997
    ...conclusion on the contempt finding is reviewed under the abuse of discretion standard. Massachusetts Comm'n Against Discrimination v. Wattendorf, 353 Mass. 315, 317, 231 N.E.2d 383 (1967). The department argues that, even if the judge's findings of fact were grounded in the evidence, they w......
  • Dep't of Revenue Child Support Enforcement v. Grullon
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • June 25, 2020
    ...; Martinez v. Lynn Hous. Auth., 94 Mass. App. Ct. 702, 705, 119 N.E.3d 312 (2019), citing Massachusetts Comm'n Against Discrimination v. Wattendorf, 353 Mass. 315, 317, 231 N.E.2d 383 (1967).In Turner v. Rogers, 564 U.S. 431, 435, 131 S.Ct. 2507, 180 L.Ed.2d 452 (2011), the United States Su......
  • Koshy v. Sachdev, SJC-12222
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • May 2, 2017
    ...1024 (1980). We review the decision to dismiss the complaint for abuse of discretion. See Massachusetts Comm'n Against Discrimination v. Wattendorf , 353 Mass. 315, 317, 231 N.E.2d 383 (1967).The judge dismissed the complaint, determining that it "rehash[ed] many of the issues and arguments......
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