Sean Young, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, and the group’s executive director, Andrea Young, speak at the Selig Building in Atlanta in April 2018. REANN HUBER / REANN.HUBER@AJC.COM
A North Georgia woman is suing her former landlord, alleging that he evicted her because she invited her black co-worker to visit the Adairsville home she was renting.
Victoria Sutton, a white woman who now lives in Calhoun, claims the couple who own the house launched into a racist tirade telling her they don’t allow black people on their property and that she would have to move out.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and the Cohen Milstein law firm filed the lawsuit Wednesday on Sutton’s behalf.
Patricia McCoy, Sutton’s landlord, brushed off the accusations of racism in the lawsuit.
“I’ve got best friends that’s black people,” she said in a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
McCoy said she asked Sutton to leave because the property was filthy, not because she had black guests.
“It took me four months to get it back to where I could rent it out again,” McCoy said. “I could sue her and make her replace all the stuff she tore up in there. It cost me $5,000 to get the house (back to normal).”
According to the suit, Sutton was in a month-to-month rental agreement and moved into the property in August 2017.
In September 2018, Sutton invited a black man and his 5-year-old son over for a few play dates with her daughters — ages 9 and 2 — before McCoy’s husband, Allen McCoy, appeared at her home and told her she would have to leave.
Attorneys for Sutton say the McCoys’ actions violate the federal Civil Rights Act and the federal and state Fair Housing Acts.
“This case is a clear reminder that the pervasive and insidious racism that led to the passage of the Fair Housing Act more than 50 years ago persists to this day,” said Brian Corman, an attorney with Cohen Milstein, a Washington law firm. “America thrives when people of all races and backgrounds are able to live in their communities without fear that they will be thrown out of their homes because of their race or the race of those with whom they associate.”
The lawsuit alleges that Allen McCoy called Sutton a “(racial epithet) lover” and said he would call child protective services for having a “(racial epithet) on their property.” He told her she had two weeks to move out.
Sutton later called Patricia McCoy to plead her case to stay in the home. The suit claims that Sutton recorded that conversation. Patricia McCoy said she doesn’t believe there is a recording.
According to the filing, Patricia McCoy can be heard on the recording telling Sutton that she didn’t “put up with (racial epithets) in my (house) and I don’t want them in my property.” When Sutton told Patricia McCoy she had not “done anything to deserve this,” Patricia McCoy is accused of saying: “Maybe you like black dogs, but I don’t. So just get your stuff and get out.”
ACLU of Georgia Legal Director Sean J. Young said: “This blatant racial discrimination happened to be caught on tape. However, people of color face discrimination in all walks of life even when racist motives are more carefully hidden.”
During an October eviction hearing, the lawsuit states, Patricia McCoy claimed the rental property had been damaged. Lawyers for Sutton said in Wednesday’s filing that Sutton provided pictures of the home showing no damage.
The judge then directed the McCoys to start a formal 60-day eviction process, according to the lawsuit, and Sutton moved out of the home that December.
Patricia McCoy, who said she and her husband have not yet hired an attorney, said they will prevail in the lawsuit.
“She wants somebody to give her something,” McCoy said, “and I’m not giving her nothing.”