CINCINNATI — Fair housing advocates on Monday won a new trial in a federal lawsuit against an Ohio company that advertised an apartment as "a great bachelor pad" for men looking to "hook up."
A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a second trial to the nonprofit Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, saying the judge at the first trial erred in giving incorrect and prejudicial jury instructions.
The jury in August 2011 found that the Dayton-based Connor Group had not violated federal law in running the Craigslist ad that read: "Our one-bedroom apartments are a great bachelor pad for any single man looking to hook up."
The nonprofit argued that the ad for a Centerville apartment amounted to discrimination against women and families, and violated the federal Fair Housing Act. The company said the ad was not discriminatory and did not state a preference, but only indicated that the apartment was ideal for single men.
Stephen Watring, an attorney for the Connor Group, said he will talk with his client about the legal options in light of the appeals court ruling but a possible settlement is not on the table. He said he felt confident the company would prevail at a second trial.
"In a lot of our ads our focus was on school districts and great places for kids. Some ads focused on things that might be more attractive to women," Watring said. "We were just trying to cast as broad a net as possible and reach as broad an audience as possible."
Diane Citrino, an attorney for the fair housing group, said she hopes the appeals court decision also provides guidance to landlords, apartment managers and others who post housing ads.
"People want to go where they feel welcome, and if you can discourage someone from even applying, there's no need to slam a door in their face," Citrino said. "You've already accomplished your goal of further segregating society, and most landlords do not want to do that. They want to comply with the law."
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