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Home / Complaints / Final Orders / Final Orders 2011 / FCHR Order No. 11-020

FCHR Order No. 11-020

Date of Release: 03/02/2011

STATE OF FLORIDA

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS

WILLIAM VELEZ AND JESSICA GUERRERO

HUD Case No. 04-10-0549-8

Petitioner

 

v.

FCHR Case No. 2010H0215

   

CENTERSTATE BANKS, INC., AND HAZEL GREENE, LOAN OFFICER

DOAH Case No. 10-3182

Respondent

FCHR Order No. 11-020

   

FINAL ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR

RELIEF FROM A DISCRIMINATORY HOUSING PRACTICE

Preliminary Matters

Petitioners William Velez and Jessica Guerrero filed an amended housing discrimination complaint pursuant to the Fair Housing Act, Sections 760.20 - 760.37, Florida Statutes (2009), alleging that Respondents CenterState Banks, Inc., and Hazel Greene, Loan Officer, committed a discriminatory housing practice on the basis of Petitioners’ National Origin (Hispanic) in their handling of Petitioners’ attempt to obtaining financing to purchase a home.

The allegations set forth in the complaint were investigated, and, on May 11, 2010, the Executive Director issued a determination finding that there was no reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory housing practice had occurred.

Petitioners filed a Petition for Relief from a Discriminatory Housing Practice and the case was transmitted to the Division of Administrative Hearings for the conduct of a formal proceeding.

An evidentiary hearing was held in Dade City, Florida, on October 20, 2010, before Administrative Law Judge Susan B. Harrell.

Judge Harrell issued a Recommended Order of dismissal, dated December 3, 2010.

The Commission panel designated below considered the record of this matter and determined the action to be taken on the Recommended Order.

Findings of Fact

We find the Administrative Law Judge’s findings of fact to be supported by competent substantial evidence

We adopt the Administrative Law Judge’s findings of fact.

FCHR Order No. 11-020

Page 2

Conclusions of Law

We find the Administrative Law Judge’s application of the law to the facts to result in a correct disposition of the matter.

We adopt the Administrative Law Judge’s conclusions of law.

Exceptions

Petitioners filed exceptions to the Administrative Law Judge’s Recommended Order in a document entitled “Petitioners’ Exceptions to Recommended Order,” received by the Commission on December 20, 2010.

There is no indication on the document that it was provided to Respondents as is required by Fla. Admin. Code R. 28-106.104(4) and Fla. Admin. Code R. 28-106.110. However, the Commission published the document to the Respondents, and placed the document in the record of this case, through the issuance of a notice of ex parte communication, mailed to the parties on December 28, 2010.

With regard to exceptions to Recommended Orders, the Administrative Procedure Act states, “The final order shall include an explicit ruling on each exception, but an agency need not rule on an exception that does not clearly identify the disputed portion of the recommended order by page number or paragraph, that does not identify the legal basis for the exception, or that does not include appropriate and specific citations to the record.” Section 120.57(1)(k), Florida Statutes (2009); see, also, Bartolone v. Best Western Hotels, FCHR Order No. 07-045 (August 24, 2007).

A review of Petitioners’ exceptions document suggests that it does not comply with this statutory provision.

It can be said, generally, that Petitioners except to the Administrative Law Judge’s finding that no discriminatory housing practice occurred in this matter, and take issue with facts found and inferences drawn from the evidence presented.

The Commission has stated, “It is well settled that it is the Administrative Law Judge’s function ‘to consider all of the evidence presented and reach ultimate conclusions of fact based on competent substantial evidence by resolving conflicts, judging the credibility of witnesses and drawing permissible inferences therefrom. If the evidence presented supports two inconsistent findings, it is the Administrative Law Judge’s role to decide between them.’ Beckton v. Department of Children and Family Services, 21 F.A.L.R. 1735, at 1736 (FCHR 1998), citing Maggio v. Martin Marietta Aerospace, 9 F.A.L.R. 2168, at 2171 (FCHR 1986).” Barr v. Columbia Ocala Regional Medical Center, 22 F.A.L.R. 1729, at 1730 (FCHR 1999). Accord, Bowles v. Jackson County Hospital Corporation, FCHR Order No. 05-135 (December 6, 2005).

Further, it has been stated, “The ultimate question of the existence of discrimination is a question of fact.” Florida Department of Community Affairs v. Bryant, 586 So. 2d 1205, at 1209 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991). Accord, Coley v. Bay County Board of County Commissioners, FCHR Order No. 10-027 (March 17, 2010).

FCHR Order No. 11-020

Page 3

Noting that we have above found the facts as found by the Administrative Law Judge to be supported by competent substantial evidence, Petitioners’ exceptions are rejected.

Dismissal

The Petition for Relief and Amended Housing Discrimination Complaint are DISMISSED with prejudice.

The parties have the right to seek judicial review of this Order. The Commission and the appropriate District Court of Appeal must receive notice of appeal within 30 days of the date this Order is filed with the Clerk of the Commission. Explanation of the right

to appeal is found in Section 120.68, Florida Statutes, and in the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure 9.110.

DONE AND ORDERED this 2nd day of March , 2011.

FOR THE FLORIDA COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS:

Commissioner Gilbert M. Singer, Panel Chairperson;

Commissioner Watson Haynes, II; and

Commissioner Darcell Streeter

Filed this 2nd day of March , 2011,

in Tallahassee, Florida.

_________/s/_________________

Violet Crawford, Clerk

Commission on Human Relations

2009 Apalachee Parkway, Suite 100

Tallahassee, FL 32301

(850) 488-7082

Copies furnished to:

William Velez

Jessica Guerrero

32044 Northridge Drive

Wesley Chapel, FL 33545

FCHR Order No. 11-020

Page 4

CenterState Banks, Inc., and

Hazel Greene, Loan Officer

c/o Christi R. Adams, Esq.

Foley & Lardner, LLP

111 North Orange Avenue, Suite 1800

Orlando, FL 32801

Susan B. Harrell, Administrative Law Judge, DOAH

James Mallue, Legal Advisor for Commission Panel

I HEREBY CERTIFY that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed to the above listed addressees this 2nd day of March , 2011.

By: _________/s/_________________

Clerk of the Commission

Florida Commission on Human Relations