Woman Seeks $100,000 in Damages in Housing Bias Suit

Julian Walker, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dec. 8

Nealie Pitts said the May 2002 refusal of a white man to sell her his Chesterfield County home because she is black caused her emotional distress and medical problems.

For that, she is seeking $100,000 in damages from the homeowner, Ruffus T. Matthews.

A judge previously awarded a default judgment in favor of Pitts and the nonprofit housing agency that investigated her charge of discrimination.

A trial that began yesterday and continues today is to determine what damages, if any, Matthews would pay Pitts and Housing Opportunities Made Equal for a violation under the state Fair Housing Law.

As part of a separate settlement agreement, Matthews within 60 days is required to take a three-hour class on fair-housing law through the state Fair Housing Office.

Pitts testified yesterday that when she approached Matthews about buying his home, he told her he could not sell to minorities.

“He said the house would only be sold to whites and it wasn’t going to be sold to any coloreds,” she recalled.

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Referencing a deposition Matthews gave in June during which he admitted he and his neighbors want to keep the area white, Pitts’ attorney, Thomas Wolf, countered that Matthews knowingly tried to exclude blacks from the community “with no shyness or apologies about it.”

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