The Southern Indiana District Court has ordered an Indianapolis homeowner to pay more than $225,000 in damages and attorney fees for allegedly harassing, taunting and threatening her African American and Latino neighbors.
Vicki New, a former resident of the Indianapolis Twin Creeks subdivision, was accused of creating a racially hostile environment from roughly March 2016 to December 2018. She allegedly yelled racial slurs and threatened violence against the other residents of the neighborhood, guests and contractors.
In a two-page ruling, Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ordered New to pay a total of $226,222.52 in compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney fees.
The docket does not list an attorney for New and the court’s ruling notes the plaintiffs’ motion for entry of default judgment was unopposed.
“We are extremely pleased with this judgment against Vicki New which reflects the great harm that occurred,” Amy Nelson, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, said in a statement. “Our client and others residing in the Twin Creeks subdivision endured relentless harassment based on race or national origin for far too long.”
The Fair Housing Center and a Twin Creeks resident who was targeted by New filed a lawsuit in April 2020 against New as well as the Twin Creeks Homeowner Association and Kirkpatrick Management.
In the complaint, FHCCI et al. v. Vicki New, et al., 1:20-cv-01176, the plaintiffs claimed New and the housing association violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.; the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C § 1981; and the Indiana Fair Housing Act, Indiana Code § 22-9.5. Also, they asserted intentional infliction of emotional distress, Indiana Code § 35-45-10-1; and negligence, failure to train or supervise, Indiana Code § 34-51.
The homeowners’ association unsuccessfully tried to block the litigation. The association and property management company then moved for summary judgment, but the motion was denied with the court finding the evidence supported the conclusion that a hostile housing environment in the Twin Creeks neighborhood existed.
In March, the plaintiffs reached a settlement with the Twin Creeks Homeowners Association and Kirkpatrick Management. Defendants agreed to participate in fair housing training and pay $262,500 in damage, attorney fees and costs to the plaintiffs.
As part of the settlement, no admission of liability or wrongdoing in connection with the allegations and claims were made.
The order against New was issued June 16.
“This ruling sends a message to all that harassment and housing discrimination of any kind is unacceptable and the law will be enforced,” Nelson said.
The plaintiffs are represented by Liza Cristol-Demon of Brancart & Brancart and Jeff Macey of Macey Swanson LLP.