Miller-Valentine Construction is settling a lawsuit alleging it built complexes that weren’t accessible for people with disabilities. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to fix all of the accessibility problems.
Miller-Valentine Construction recently agreed to settle a suit with the Department of Justice, bringing an end to allegations that the Dayton-based company spent years building affordable housing throughout 13 different states “that wasn’t accessible for people with disabilities.” Though the company has not admitted wrongdoing, it agreed to “remodel and fix any inaccessible parts of the apartment communities, to create a $400,000 victims fund and to pay a $75,000 civil fine.” Additionally, part of the consent agreement means the company will also face “ongoing monitoring and training.” The settlement agreement is awaiting final approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
The case was first filed back in May 2019. At the time, then- U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman said “the investigation took years and that such a wide-ranging case with this many properties across several states is not common.” Shortly after the agreement was made, David DeVillers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, issued a statement saying:
It will correct actions taken in the past that limited access to housing for people with disabilities and at the same time put steps in place to prevent this from happening in the future.
Elizabeth Mangan, partner and CEO at Miller-Valentine Construction, also issued a statement from the company. She said the company has “always have been committed to partnering with reputable architects, engineers, and other project partners on multifamily projects that comply with applicable laws and building codes.” She added:
“Miller-Valentine Construction has and always will support fair and accessible housing for all residents of the multifamily communities we build. The Department of Justice lawsuit focused primarily on multifamily projects completed prior to 2012. While we deny the allegations contained in the lawsuit, the new ownership of Miller-Valentine Construction chose to settle any potential exposure and to focus on the future. Bringing an end to the litigation enables us to move forward and continue to provide the best in class service our customers deserve.”
The lawsuit was filed against Miller-Valentine Operations Inc. and its affiliated companies over certain complexes built in 13 states, including Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Most of the properties in question were built using funds from Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. During an investigation, the DOJ said there were ADA violations at “26 apartment communities in the region, and overall there were 82 properties in 13 states that have numerous, egregious accessibility barriers.”
According to the suit, the properties had a host of accessibility problems for disabled people, including “steps at building entrances, inaccessible parking, inaccessible bathrooms and kitchens, and insufficient maneuvering space at unit entrances and common use areas.” Under the settlement agreement, Miller-Valentine will have to take corrective actions to ensure the complexes are accessible by people with disabilities, including “reducing sloped portions of sidewalks, installing sloped curb ramps and walkways, providing room for wheelchair users in bathrooms and kitchens and removing accessibility barriers in common-use areas.”
As part of the recent settlement, current and past residents from the affected complexes and properties from the last five years will be notified of the settlement via mail and will have 12 months to contact the DOJ for compensation.