Rochester, N.Y. – A woman has filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming she was evicted from her apartment because she called the police on an abusive ex-boyfriend.
Javonnta Simmons, 28, lived at a Genesee St. building for several years before she was told to move out last February. Simmons called police when she was attacked by her ex-boyfriend, the father of her newborn child. The man was armed with a gun.
“I had to call the police. I remember being nervous and being frightened, just very afraid,” Simmons said.
Simmons said her landlord gave her only a couple days to move after the incident. She said the property management company was worried about racking up nuisance points with the city and losing its certificate of occupancy.
“They just told me because of the incident I had to pack up my things and go,” Simmons said. “It was just shocking and frustrating. I didn’t know what to do.”
Simmons and her baby spent months living with family members before she was able to get another apartment.
“What this law does, is it basically punishes victims of domestic abuse twice,” said Simmons’ attorney, Wynn Bowman. “To be evicted just because you were the victim of a domestic abuse incident doesn’t seem right.”
The lawsuit is seeking compensation and a change in the city’s nuisance laws.
Mayor Tom Richards said he was not familiar with this case. He said landlords do not get nuisance points every time police are called. “What is true is if you have repeated problems in your building like repeated drug sales, that you can acquire points, that’s correct, but that goes against the landlord, not necessarily the tenant.”
A similar lawsuit was filed against East Rochester in 2007. That case was settled in 2010 for $100,000. The village changed its nuisance laws to carve exceptions for crime victims.
“I just felt that I was done very wrong,” said Simmons. “I don’t know if I can call the police again.”