Case: United States v. Fred C. Trump, Donald Trump, and Trump Management, Inc.

1:73-01529 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Filed Date: Oct. 15, 1973

Closed Date: 1979

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This case was brought against Fred and Donald Trump, and their real estate company, in 1973 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  In October 1973, the Justice Department filed this civil rights case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (federal court in Brooklyn) against Fred Trump, Donald Trump, and their real estate company. The complaint alleged that the firm had committed systemic violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in their many…

This case was brought against Fred and Donald Trump, and their real estate company, in 1973 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. 

In October 1973, the Justice Department filed this civil rights case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (federal court in Brooklyn) against Fred Trump, Donald Trump, and their real estate company. The complaint alleged that the firm had committed systemic violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in their many complexes--39 buildings, between them containing over 14,000 apartments. The allegations included evidence from black and white "testers" who had sought to rent apartments; the white testers were told of vacancies; the black testers were not, or were steered to apartment complexes with a higher proportion of racial minorities. The complaint also alleged that Trump employees had placed codes next to housing applicant names to indicate if they were black.

The Trumps retained Roy Cohn, former aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy, to defend them; they counter-claimed against the government, seeking $100 million in damages for defamation.

The case was assigned to District Judge Edward R. Neaher. He dismissed the counterclaim and allowed the Fair Housing Act suit to proceed.

After two years, the matter settled with a consent decree, signed June 10, 1975. It included the ordinary disclaimer of liability (the settlement was “in no way an admission” of a violation"), but prohibited the Trumps from "discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling." Fred and Donald Trump were ordered to "thoroughly acquaint themselves personally on a detailed basis" with the Fair Housing Act. The agreement also required the Trumps to place ads informing minorities they had an equal opportunity to seek housing at their properties. According to a contemporary article in the New York Times, Trump Management was required to furnish the New York Urban League with a weekly list of all apartment vacancies, for two years; the League would get three days to provide qualified applicants for every fifth vacancy in Trump buildings where fewer than 10 percent of the tenants were black.

The Justice Department called the decree “one of the most far-reaching ever negotiated.” Newspaper headlines echoed that assessment. The New York Amsterdam News, for example, titled its article “Minorities win housing suit,” and told readers that “qualified Blacks and Puerto Ricans now have the opportunity to rent apartments owned by Trump Management.”

In his autobiography, Donald Trump took a different view: “In the end the government couldn’t prove its case, and we ended up making a minor settlement without admitting any guilt.”

For more information, see Michael Kranish and Robert O'Harrow Jr. Inside the government’s racial bias case against Donald Trump’s company, and how he fought it (Washington Post, Jan. 23, 2016).

Summary Authors

Clearinghouse (5/8/2016)

People


Judge(s)

Catoggio, Vincent A. (New York)

Neaher, Edward Raymond (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boyd, Edward John (New York)

Brachtl, Henry A. (New York)

Days, Drew S. III (District of Columbia)

Goldberg, Norman P. (District of Columbia)

Goldstein, Donna F. (District of Columbia)

Goldweber, Elyse S. (New York)

Handley, Harvey L. III (District of Columbia)

Heffernan, Brian F. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Catoggio, Vincent A. (New York)

Neaher, Edward Raymond (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boyd, Edward John (New York)

Brachtl, Henry A. (New York)

Days, Drew S. III (District of Columbia)

Goldberg, Norman P. (District of Columbia)

Goldstein, Donna F. (District of Columbia)

Goldweber, Elyse S. (New York)

Handley, Harvey L. III (District of Columbia)

Heffernan, Brian F. (District of Columbia)

Kelley, David T. (District of Columbia)

LaRue, Homer C. (New York)

Morse, Robert A. (District of Columbia)

Porter, James D. (New York)

Pottinger, J. Stanley (District of Columbia)

Richardson, Elliot L. (District of Columbia)

Schwelb, Frank E. (District of Columbia)

Trager, David G. (New York)

Turner, James P. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bacon, Rogers H. (New York)

Cohn, Roy M. (New York)

Friedman, Stanley M. (New York)

Rosen, Michael (New York)

Saxe, John Godfrey (New York)

Shuman, Jeffrey A. (New York)

Tosti, Matthew J. (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:73-01529

Docket

July 17, 1979

July 17, 1979

Docket

City of New York Commission on Human Rights documents re: Trump Management Company [with FBI internal memorandum attaching documents]

No Court

March 14, 1968

March 14, 1968

Other

State of New York Division of Human Rights documents re: Trump Management Company [with letter to FBI attaching documents]

No Court

Oct. 8, 1970

Oct. 8, 1970

Other

Statements by Testers for the Open Housing Center [with letter to FBI from the Open Housing Center and miscellaneous attachments]

No Court

Aug. 10, 1972

Aug. 10, 1972

Correspondence

Internal Memorandum [from FBI Director, with instructions for the investigation into the Trump Management Company] (FBI)

No Court

Sept. 26, 1972

Sept. 26, 1972

Internal memorandum

Miscellaneous Internal Memoranda (FBI)

No Court

Oct. 4, 1972

Oct. 4, 1972

Internal memorandum

Correspondence between the FBI and Matthew J. Tosti (attorney for Trump Management, Inc.)

No Court

Oct. 18, 1972

Oct. 18, 1972

Correspondence

Documents from Interviews with Current and Former Trump Management Employees [interview notes, signed statements] (FBI)

No Court

Oct. 20, 1972

Oct. 20, 1972

Internal memorandum

Internal Memoranda [notes from interviews with individuals who tried to rent or rented from Trump Management, Inc.] (FBI)

No Court

Oct. 20, 1972

Oct. 20, 1972

Internal memorandum

Internal Memorandum [notes from interview with Matthew J. Tosti, attorney for Trump Management Company] (FBI)

No Court

Nov. 24, 1972

Nov. 24, 1972

Internal memorandum

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 27, 2022, 3:26 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance

Special Collection(s):

Featured Historical Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 15, 1973

Closing Date: 1979

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Trump Management, Inc. (New York), Private Entity/Person

Defendant Type(s):

Multi-family housing provider

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1975 - None

Content of Injunction:

Comply with advertising/recruiting requirements

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Discrimination Prohibition

Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)

Provide antidiscrimination training

Recordkeeping

Issues

General:

Disparate Treatment

Housing

Pattern or Practice

Racial segregation

Record-keeping

Discrimination-area:

Housing Sales/Rental

Steering

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black