Realtors’ claims of discrimination against interracial couples upheld in court

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, MI – A federal housing discrimination lawsuit filed by an interracial couple claiming they were treated unfairly when they tried to buy a lake house has ended in an out-of-court settlement.

On July 5, 2020, a U.S. District Court judge signed a 2021 housing discrimination lawsuit filed by Verdell and Julie Franklin, alleging racial discrimination by Mary Aikens and Richard Beaudin in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

The case was dismissed with prejudice, citing an agreement reached by all parties. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed in court records.

Related: Interracial couple sues Livingston County realtors for racial discrimination

Attorneys for the Franklins could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that Verdell Franklin, a black man, and his wife, Julie Franklin, a white woman, were interested in buying a lake house in Hamburg Township on Sept. 3 after 10 years visiting friends in the area near Zuki Lake.

The home is listed for $350,000 with no additional conditions or requirements. The couple asked to tour the house the day after it was listed.

The lawsuit alleges that Eikens showed little interest in selling the home to the couple, did not ask about income or employment, and was surprised when the couple said they wanted to make an offer on the home.

Verdell Franklin is CFO of the Toledo Fire Department, where he has worked for 29 years, and Julie Franklin is a registered nurse anesthetist at Toledo Hospital.

The couple met at Aiken’s that day and told Beaudin, the home’s listing agent, that he would only accept $350,000 in cash and that the home would be “sold as is,” the suit says.

The couple was ready to propose, but the money supply was too high, the lawsuit said.

The couple later learned that the house had been listed again a month later for $300,000 and had been purchased by a white man with a $225,000 mortgage.

According to census data, Hamburg Township had a population of 21,794 in 2019, of which 97.6 percent are white and less than 0.5 percent are African American, the lawsuit said.

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