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Springfield landlord fined $43,500 after losing housing discrimination lawsuit

U.S. District Court in SpringfieldSPRINGFIELD -- A Springfield landlord who refused to rent apartments to pregnant women or families with minor children must pay more than $40,000 in fines under a federal jury verdict.

Following a five-day trial in U.S. District Court in Springfield, a jury found that John DeRaffele, of New Rochelle, New York, had violated the U.S. Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent an apartment to a Springfield family with a pregnant wife and a child under 6 years old, according to a press release from the U.S. Justice Department.

When the family filed a complaint in 2015, the landlord retaliated by suing them for $1 million in damages, the release said.

The jury, in a verdict delivered on Friday, also found DeRaffele engaged in a pattern of discrimination against prospective tenants based on their familial status. Specifically, the landlord included an addendum in leases barring rentals to couples with minor children, women who were pregnant or who became pregnant, the release said.

The jury awarded $8,500 in damages to the family and imposed a $35,000 civil penalty for the pattern of discrimination, the release said.