On July 10, 2019, Cohen Milstein and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia filed a federal fair housing and civil rights lawsuit in United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, on behalf of Victoria Sutton against her landlords, Patricia and Allen McCoy.  The defendant landlords evicted Ms. Sutton from one of their rental properties solely because Ms. Sutton had invited an African-American family to her home. 

Using a series of threats and racial epithets, several of which were audio-recorded by Ms. Sutton, the defendant landlords made their race-based decision to evict Ms. Sutton very clear.  Additionally, the defendants threatened to call the police and Child Protective Services, and to harm Ms. Sutton physically, if she attempted to contest the eviction. 

Ms. Sutton, the plaintiff, seeks declaratory relief and damages to redress the defendants’ alleged unlawful housing discrimination based on race in violation of Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1982, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601, et seq., and the Georgia Fair Housing Act, GA. CODE ANN. § 8-3-200 et seq.  Ms. Sutton also asserts causes of action for breach of contract.

Case Background

The plaintiff, Victoria Sutton, is a white woman who rented a house in Adairsville, Georgia, owned by the defendants, Patricia and Allen McCoy. 

In September 2018, Ms. Sutton started inviting an African American co-worker, who lived in the area and has a five-year-old son, over to her home for play dates with her daughters. 

On or around September 30, 2018, Ms. Sutton’s co-worker was leaving Ms. Sutton’s home and hugged Ms. Sutton goodbye after one of these play dates.  Later the same day, the defendant, Allen McCoy, knocked on Ms. Sutton’s door and accused Ms. Sutton of being a “n___ lover,” told Ms. Sutton she should be ashamed of herself, and said that he would call Child Protective Services for having a “n____ on their property.” 

Mr. McCoy then told Ms. Sutton she had two weeks to move out. Ms. Sutton pleaded with Mr. McCoy to allow her and her family to stay in the home, saying she had nowhere else to go.  Mr. McCoy responded that she should have thought of that before she “brought that n____ around,” and that her only hope of staying on the property was to talk to his wife, Defendant Patricia McCoy.  Mr. McCoy ended the conversation saying he would call the police and “have that n____ arrested if he comes on my property again.” 

Later that day, Ms. Sutton called the McCoys on the telephone.  Ms. Sutton recorded this telephone conversation.

Mr. McCoy answered the telephone and handed the phone to Ms. McCoy.  Ms. Sutton initiated the conversation by saying, “Your husband came over and there seems to be some kind of problem.”  In response, Ms. McCoy stated, “There is … I don’t put up with n_____ in my [house] and I don’t want them in my property.”  

Ms. Sutton responded that she had the right to bring guests onto the property because she was renting the home from Ms. McCoy.  Ms. McCoy responded, “I don’t care … You just go ahead and get your ass out … You ain’t got no rights on the property.”

On October 1, 2018, Ms. Sutton was served an eviction notice.

Before the end of the 60-day eviction period, while Ms. Sutton was still moving her belongings into her new home, the McCoys went into Ms. Sutton’s home while Ms. Sutton and her family were not present and, without notice, removed and discarded all the property still within the home.  

Ms. Sutton and her family moved out of the home in December 2018 and are currently residing in Calhoun, Georgia.  

The case name is: Sutton v. Patricia McCoy, et al., Case No. 4:19-mi-99999-UNA, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia