CHARLESTON - A Kanawha County man is suing Vista View Apartments after he was evicted without a federally required court order, and denied a smaller unit because on his background check.

Gregory Black filed the complaint Aug. 30 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

According to the suit, Black, along with a friend, applied for a two-bedroom apartment. The application was accepted, and they were allowed to move in the apartment where he has lived since May 2006.

Part of the application process included a credit check and criminal background check, which were performed on Black. According to the suit, Black has no criminal record, which precludes the complex from denying his application.

"Gregory Black does have a minor misdemeanor record from five years earlier upon which Vista View Apartments, under federal law, could have exercised discretion to either grant or deny his application," the suit says.

The suit says the complex knew about his background and chose to accept him.

Black signed a one-year lease and moved into the two-bedroom unit in May 2006. In November 2006, he asked to be transferred to a one-bedroom unit, to live by himself.

"In December of 2006, Mr. Black's application was denied, purportedly based on a criminal background check," the suit says.

He received two denial letters, stating that his application was indeed denied because of his background check.

According to the lawsuit, the most recent criminal charge was in early 2002.

On Dec. 8, Black met with Kelly Bostick, an assistant manager of Vista View Apartments, where he was informed that he had 30 days to vacate the premises.

He never received a written notice to vacate.

On Dec. 19, Black, through his lawyer, sent Bostick a letter requesting an administrative hearing in regard to his denial.

Two days later, Bostick informed Black that there was an internal error in processing Black's initial criminal history check.

"She indicated that she had spoken to the manager of Vista View, Ms. Parent, and that because Mr. Black had no violations since he moved in, was timely with his rent, and his criminal history was dated, that Mr. Black's application for transfer to another apartment was approved, and he would be placed on the waiting list for his desired building," the suit says.

Black went to the office Jan. 12 to check on his placement on the waiting list and was informed that he was to be off the premises immediately. The next day he was escorted from the property by security. He was not allowed to collect his belongings.

"Black left the property and was forced to be without heat, adequate shelter, and his belongings until Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007, the duration of the three-day Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend," the suit says.

Black claims he was forced to pay $240 for alternative shelter and food during that time.

According to the suit, Black's attorney secured his re-entry to his unit on Jan. 16, but since that time the complex has denied his application for a transfer to a new apartment.

He claims he was wrongfully evicted and removed from his unit on Jan. 13, in violation of federal law. He also claims that on Dec. 21, he entered an oral contract and which the defendant later broke.

Black seeks compensation for the $240 he spent when he was expelled from his home for three days, as well as $15,000 in punitive damages.

Attorney Susana Duarte is representing Black. The case has been assigned to Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-1856

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