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
"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.