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Judge rules in Gainesvilles favor on fair housing suit involving alleged racial epithets by worker

A judge last week ruled in favor of the city of Gainesville in a federal Fair Housing Act lawsuit, saying the alleged racial epithets of one employee cannot make the city liable for damages.

Gregory and Sophia Bonds filed a lawsuit in August 2015 regarding neighbor and Gainesville solid waste department employee Roy Hubert Turner Jr.

The Bonds family alleged Turner subjected them to repeated racial slurs and intimidation since the family moved in February 2012 to Cumberland Drive in Gainesville.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Story ruled Turner’s conduct was “purely personal.”

“While some minor instances of Turner’s conduct did occur on the job, he was not hired to interact with the public, and his conduct was not intended to benefit the city,” Story wrote.

Attorneys for all parties did not return a request for comment Monday.

The court previously dismissed a Georgia Fair Housing Act claim, but the court continued to consider the federal claim.

“The city’s actual and constructive knowledge of Turner’s actions, many of which occurred while he was employed as a sanitation worker for the city, coupled with its failure to intercede on plaintiffs’ behalf after being informed about Turner’s actions, served to condone, adopt, ratify and facilitate Turner’s actions,” the suit stated. “The city’s refusal to discipline Turner or take reasonable and appropriate remedial actions to prevent his unlawful conduct toward plaintiffs make (the city) jointly liable ...”

According to the ruling, the Bonds family moved out of the property at least eight months after Turner was terminated from the city’s employment.

The court ruled that the city “did not ratify Turner’s conduct.”

“Although the city’s response was not ideal in every respect, it did make an effort to remove Turner from contact on the job and suspended him at various intervals during the events in question,” according to the ruling.

The court granted the city’s motion for summary judgment, additionally allowing the city to recover its costs from the plaintiffs.