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For week ended May 23, 1999 Posted 4 Jun 1999

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Judge rules for developer who refused to sell hometo attorney

Summarized by Eric Bunker

Judge rules for developer who refused to sell hometo attorney
Sacramento CA Bee (AP) 20May99 L5
Judge rules for developer who refused to sell home to attorney

BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA -- Attorneys have been put on notice in California. Timothy Liebaert, an LDS attorney, had a deposit on a new family home unexpectedly returned because the developer would not sell to lawyers as they were afraid of the higher rate of lawsuits that this class of professionals were prone to filing. Like a lawyer, Bro. Liebaert took the only step he felt was open to him. He sued.

Bro. Liebaert contends he and his family was a victim of discrimination under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, which guarantees equal housing access. However, last week, a Kern County Superior Court Judge sided with the developer, saying the state law on which the suit was based doesn't apply. The judge ruled the law only applies to race, color, creed or national origin; but not profession.

The Liebaert's thought they had found the perfect home. The 2,400-square-foot, five-bedroom home was perfect for them and their two very young daughters, ages 5 months and 22 months. The house included a Jacuzzi and room for a backyard pool, in a quiet neighborhood close to a planned elementary school, the ward building, the girls' doctor and a favorite movie theater.

"I was surprised," Bro. Liebaert said. "I'm definitely going to appeal this case. It's a matter of principle. This is a lot bigger than just me now. Today's decision sanctions discrimination based on occupation."

However, the builder's lawyer Thomas Clark said his client did not discriminate, but instead made a legitimate business decision.

"I think it's fairly clear and the courts have recognized that in business, people have the right make decisions based on economic factors," Clark said.

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