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Edouard v. Kozubal

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    Bloomberg Law

    Brief Fact Summary. Edouard is a tenant in Kozubal’s building. Edouard filed a compliant alleging sex discrimination to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination based on certain events.


    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Emotional distress damages will be appropriate in a land-lord tenant relationship where the plaintiff can show a prima facie case of sexual discrimination.


    Facts. s. Edouard is a nurse and school bus driver who has two children. When she signed the lease to live in Mr. Kozubal’s apartment he invited her for a trip to Plymouth MA and she declined. When she arrived at his place to pick up the keys there was no answer. When she got in touch with him he stated that if she couldn’t help him, he couldn’t help her. She was upset and went back to his he answered and stated unless she gave him 3 months rent in advance he would not give her a key. This was one extra month that was originally asked for. When she asked why he stated because she refused to go to Plymouth with him. Eventually she agreed to pay the three months in advance. There was another incident several weeks later where he saw in the hall and slapped her on the buttocks in a joking manner. Then sometime in August he used his key to get in her apartment but there was a double lock. He spoke through the door to one of her sons and he told the son to tell his mother that he wished to go to Plymouth for the weekend. Sometime in October he told her that he would need her to move to the first floor apartment, she agreed but wanted to inspect the place. When she was looking in the cabinet he came from behind her and grabbed her nipples. He then pushed her to the floor while she was crawling away he grabbed her legs and attempted to grab her private parts. She got out of the apartment and filed charges against him and received a restraining order. He violated the order once by showing up insisting if she drops the charges she could live there rent free. These actions led to her being scared, depressed, and experienced diminished self-esteem. She then began therapy as a result of his conduct.


    Issue. Whether claims of sex discrimination based on sexual harassment can be applied in a land-land tenant relationship thus allowing damages for emotional distress.


    Held. Yes. When a plaintiff can show a prima facie case of sexual discrimination as defined against an employer it will be applied to the land-lord tenant relationship. In order to show sexual discrimination, you must show one of two types of sexual harassment occurred.  Sexual harassment is defined as sexual advances, request for favors, and other acts sexual in nature when such request are made for  1) condition or basis of employment and 2) when the advances have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with persons performance by creating a hostile environment. To establish the first kind discrimination the plaintiff must show she is of a protected class, she was subject to unwanted sexual advances and those conditions and or basis caused adverse changes and they were casually connected to her rejection. Her she is a woman that was required to make an additional rental deposit when she refused a date from her land-lord; her prima facie case is made. She also can show the second type because the defendant slapped her buttocks and attempted rape which most certainly is a hostile environment. This is also proven by evidence from the charge brought against the defendant for Indecent Assault and Battery where he admitted his guilt. Due to all these facts an award for money damages for the emotional distress caused by the sexual discrimination is appropriate.


    Discussion.  While the plaintiff did prove her case, it also did not help that Mr. Kozubal did not show up to defend himself. Also while a plaintiff does not have to see a doctor to prove emotional distress, the fact that she did visit a doctor helped her claims.



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