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Home / Complaints / Final Orders / Final Orders 2012 / FCHR Order No. 12-061

FCHR Order No. 12-061

Date of Release: 11/16/2012

STATE OF FLORIDA

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS

ROBERT PAGANO

 

HUD Case No. 04-12-0590-8

Petitioner

 

FCHR Case No. 2012H0236

   

DOAH Case No. 12-2279

v.

 

FCHR Order No. 12-061

     

THE FOURTH BAYSHORE CONDOMINIUM

ASSOCIATION, INC., KARL

STEMMLER AND RICHARD GROVE

   

Respondent

   

FINAL ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR

RELIEF FROM A DISCRIMINATORY HOUSING PRACTICE

Preliminary Matters

Petitioner Robert Pagano filed a housing discrimination complaint pursuant to the Fair Housing Act, Sections 760.20 - 760.37, Florida Statutes (2011), alleging that Respondents The Fourth Bayshore Condominium Association, Inc., Karl Stemmler and Richard Grove committed a discriminatory housing practice on the basis of Petitioner’s handicap and on the basis of interference, coercion or intimidation, by refusing to rent an apartment to Petitioner.

The allegations set forth in the complaint were investigated, and, on June 6, 2012, the Executive Director issued a determination finding that there was no reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory housing practice had occurred.

Petitioner 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 Bradenton, Florida, on August 23, 2012, before Administrative Law Judge R. Bruce McKibben.

Judge McKibben issued a Recommended Order of dismissal, dated September 5, 2012.

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

A transcript of the proceeding before the Administrative Law Judge was not filed with the Commission. In the absence of a transcript of the proceeding before the

FCHR Order No. 12-061

Page 2

Administrative Law Judge, the Recommended Order is the only evidence for the Commission to consider. See National Industries, Inc. v. Commission on Human

Relations, et al., 527 So. 2d 894, at 897, 898 (Fla. 5th DCA 1988). Accord, Mack v. Agency for Persons with Disabilities, FCHR Order No. 11-026 (March 17, 2011), Hall v. Villages of West Oaks HOA, FCHR Order No. 08-007 (January 14, 2008), Beach-

Gutierrez v. Bay Medical Center, FCHR Order No. 05-011 (January 19, 2005), and Waaser v. Streit’s Motorsports, FCHR Order No. 04-157 (November 30, 2004).

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

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

Petitioner filed exceptions to the Administrative Law Judge’s Recommended Order in a three-page document received by the Commission on or about September 20, 2012.

There is no indication on the document that it was provided to the 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 September 25, 2012.

Generally, the document excepts to the Recommended Order’s conclusion that no discriminatory housing practice occurred.

In the absence of a transcript of the proceeding before the Administrative Law Judge, the Commission is bound by the facts found in the Recommended Order, since there is no way for the Commission to determine the extent to which the facts found are supported by the testimony presented. See, e.g., Gainey v. Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., FCHR Order No. 07-054 (October 12, 2007) and Herring v. Department of Corrections, FCHR Order No. 12-004 (February 21, 2012).

With regard to findings of fact set out in Recommended Orders, the Administrative Procedure Act states, “The agency may not reject or modify the findings of fact unless the agency first determines from a review of the entire record , and states with particularity in the order, that the findings of fact were not based upon competent substantial evidence or that the proceedings on which the findings were based did not comply with the essential requirements of law [emphasis added].” Section 120.57(1)(l), Florida Statutes (2012). As indicated, above, in the absence of a transcript of the proceeding before the Administrative Law Judge, the Recommended Order is the only evidence for the Commission to consider. See, National Industries, Inc., supra. Accord,

FCHR Order No. 12-061

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Hall, supra, Jones v. Suwannee County School Board, FCHR Order No. 06-088 (September 11, 2006), Johnson v. Tree of Life, Inc., FCHR Order No 05-087 (July 12, 2005), Beach-Gutierrez, supra, and Waaser, supra.

Further, 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) and Eaves v. IMT-LB Central Florida Portfolio, LLC, FCHR Order No. 11-029 (March 17, 2011).

In addition, 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) and Eaves, supra.

Based on the foregoing, Petitioner’s exceptions are rejected.

Dismissal

The Petition for Relief and 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 16th day of November , 2012.

FOR THE FLORIDA COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS:

Commissioner Gilbert M. Singer, Panel Chairperson;

Commissioner Onelia Fajardo-Garcia; and

Commissioner James Johns

FCHR Order No. 12-061

Page 4

Filed this 16th day of November , 2012,

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:

Robert Pagano

2235 Canal Drive

Bradenton, FL 34207

The Fourth Bayshore Condominium

Association, Inc., and Karl Stemmler

c/o Ron M. Campbell, Esq.

c/o Patrick M. Boland, Esq.

Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.

27300 Riverview Center Blvd., Suite 200

Bonita Springs, FL 34135

Richard Grove

730 Abbie Lane

Kearneysville, WV 25430

R. Bruce McKibben, 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 16th day of November , 2012.

By: _________/s/_______________

Clerk of the Commission

Florida Commission on Human Relations