Hall Financial Group Pays $197,500 to Tempe Couple in Apartment Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement

A Tempe couple who alleged discriminatory treatment by their apartment manager were paid $197,500 in a settlement with a Texas company.

That's the largest fair housing lawsuit settlement in the history of the civil division of the state Attorney General's Office. The case began in 2007 under former AG Terry Goddard, but was settled in May under the current AG, Tom Horne, whose office announced the deal today.

Hany Ibrahim and his wife, Soha Abdelrahman, have by now received the six-figure payout from Hall Financial Group LTD, which formerly managed Villatree Apartments at 1750 South Price Road in Tempe, Horne's office says. The Civil Rights division also received $30,000 in the settlement.

Hall's affiliated entites, which also helped pay the settlement bill, include: Hall Apartment Management, LTD, NHP Villa L.P. and N.H.P. Villa G.P., Inc.

The problem began when Ibrahim and Abdelrahman applied to move in to Villatree back in July of 2006 and were asked by apartment manager Jeannie Sundy about their ethnic background and religious affiliation, according to the original complaint. The Egyptian Muslims were also asked to fill out a second application after the first one was allegedly lost.

After they moved in the following month, they complained after a maintenance worker entered their second-floor apartment without authorization. Sundy allegedly told them "This is our way. If you don't like it, you can go back to where you came from," the complaint states. When the couple indicated they might file a complaint about Sundy, she's said to have told them she'd make their lives "miserable."

That September, the apartment manager told them their unit would again be subject to an inspection, which the couple claimed was unwarranted. They griped to the city of Phoenix and Sundy's supervisor. Soon after, Sundy "insisted" that Abdelrahman sign a money order that belonged to the unit's previous occupants. The next day, Sundy tried to boot out the couple, claiming they'd committed fraud, says the complaint.

The couple soon received notices that the apartment intended to evict them based on the false notion that they'd been harassing other tenants. They moved out in October of 2006 and filed suit with the state.

Hall Financial Group admitted no responsibility in the matter.

Villatree is now owned by PM Villa Tree Tempe, LLC of Scottsdale.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern