Feb
16

Discrimination suit dropped against Lincoln landlord

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Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning’s office has dropped a lawsuit that accused a Lincoln landlord of discriminating against two Iraqi renters and trying to intimidate a handyman who cooperated with an investigation of their accusations.

Assistant Attorney General Gregory Walklin filed the motion to drop the suit on Jan. 30, and Lancaster County District Judge Andrew Jacobsen dismissed the case without prejudice the next day.

 

In an answer to the complaint against him, Ryan Reinke said he knew Kheloud Naser and Khiloud Bahir hailed from Iraq before he rented them separate apartments near 14th and B streets. They signed one-year leases in August 2009.

Reinke also says in court documents that he never let knowledge of their nationality taint decisions about maintenance of their apartments.

The suit filed by Bruning's office alleged he ignored repair requests from them and failed to provide Naser with an air conditioning unit as agreed, even though all other tenants had one.

Reinke said he did respond to requests for repairs and all his actions were justified, according to court documents.

He also said he already was in the process of evicting handyman Shawn Spooner because he was behind on rent and didn’t work enough to pay his rent.

The lawsuit alleged Reinke attempted to threaten, intimidate and coerce Spooner into refusing to participate in an investigation of complaints made by Naser and Bahir to the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission.

The commission in 2010 found reasonable cause to believe Reinke violated the Nebraska Fair Housing Act. Naser, Bahir and Spooner chose to have their claims decided in civil action.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office said the case was dismissed after more than two years because of problems coordinating evidence and witnesses.

Reinke's attorney, Melanie Whittamore-Mantzios, said her client has denied the allegations against him all along, and the media coverage of the accusations caused damage to a “good man's reputation.”

“It has been hard on Ryan,” she said. “People think it is true, and they use it against him. It's just really unfair.”

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