Woman says Encore Management violated W.Va. Fair Housing Act

By Kyla Asbury | Sep 18, 2013

CHARLESTON - A Spencer woman is suing Encore Management Co. Inc. for allegedly violating the West Virginia Fair Housing Act and causing her damages.

Encore Management is doing business as Hart House Apartments.

Rosa Figueroa was a resident of Hart House Apartments and on Oct. 1, 2010, Encore hired Margaret Starcher as manager of Hart House, according to a complaint filed Aug. 30 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Figueroa claims Starcher's mother, Melva Starcher, assisted her in carrying out her duties as apartment manager.

Shortly after Margaret Starcher became manager, she and Melva Starcher began a campaign of harassment against Figueroa, issuing numerous write-ups for purported violations of her lease, including write-ups for playing Puerto Rican music even though there had been no complaints from other tenants, according to the suit.

Figueroa claims Margaret Starcher and Melva Starcher "were also heard referring to the Plaintiff as a 'nigger' and a 'Puerto Rican nigger,' indicating that their conduct was based upon Plaintiff's Puerto Rican ancestry."

On one occasion when Figueroa was in an apartment complex elevator with Margaret Starcher and Melva Starcher, Melva Starcher spat at her, according to the suit.

Figueroa claims when she attempted to complain about the treatment, a representative of Encore simply told her to "work things out."

In April, Figueroa was evicted from Hart House as a result of an accidental cooking fire and while she was attempting to move out, Margaret Starcher and Melva Starcher continued their harassment by interfering with her ability to access the apartment and, on at least one occasion, she observed them following her vehicle while she drove around Spencer, according to the suit.

Figueroa claims the defendant violated the West Virginia Fair Housing Act and negligently retained Margaret Starcher after Figueroa complained about her and her mother's actions.

Figueroa is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Harry F. Bell Jr. and Jonathan W. Price of the Bell Law Firm PLLC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. King.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-1648

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