Lawsuit: White couple evicted tenant over black visitors

A white Georgia couple evicted a white tenant because she invited a black family to the home she was renting, according to a federal lawsuit that says the landlords violated civil rights and fair housing laws.

The housing discrimination lawsuit filed Wednesday says Patricia and Allen McCoy used racial slurs when telling Victoria Sutton to leave the home. Reached by phone, Patricia McCoy said she hadn't seen the lawsuit but said they didn't kick Sutton out over black visitors.

"I kicked her out because she was so nasty," McCoy said. "It was because of nastiness, tearing up everything and having a cat in the house when I told her she couldn't have no animals."

The lawsuit, filed on Sutton's behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, says Sutton recorded Patricia McCoy repeatedly using a racial slur when she told Sutton she had to leave.

Sutton and her family moved into the house in Adairsville, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Atlanta, in August 2017.

As a black co-worker with a young child was leaving after a playdate with Sutton's daughters on Sept. 30, 2018, the co-worker hugged Sutton goodbye. Later that day, Allen McCoy came to the house and called Sutton a "(racial slur) lover," the lawsuit says.

He told her he would call Child Protective Services for having a black person on the property and told Sutton she had two weeks to move out, the lawsuit says. When Sutton protested, McCoy told her to call his wife and threatened to call the police if Sutton's black friend came onto his property again.

Sutton called Patricia McCoy and recorded the call, during which McCoy repeatedly used a racial slur, the lawsuit says. Patricia McCoy told her, "I don't put up with (racial slurs) in my house and I don't want them in my property."

When asked Wednesday whether she'd said she didn't want black people on her property, Patricia McCoy said, "I told her I didn't want nobody out of the trailer park on my property because they're drug pushers."

Asked if she used the racial slur, she said no.

When Sutton said she had the right to invite anyone to the home, Patricia McCoy said she would evict her, the lawsuit says. When Sutton said she'd done nothing wrong and would tell a judge that, Patricia McCoy threatened to "stomp the (expletive) out" of her, the lawsuit says.

The McCoys served Sutton with an eviction notice the next day, the lawsuit says. A judge told Patricia McCoy she couldn't evict Sutton without giving her a letter of intent, which would initiate a 60-day period for Sutton to leave. The McCoys left a letter on Sutton's doorstep about two weeks later.

The federal Civil Rights Act and state and federal fair housing laws prohibit landlords from discriminating because of race, whether of the tenant or the tenant's guest, the ACLU said. The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and seeks damages for diverted resources and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages and attorneys' fees.