Dream lake home purchase 'prevented' because buyers are an interracial couple, lawsuit claims

Posted at 6:01 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 18:09:41-05

HAMBURG TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Julie and Verdell Franklin wanted to buy a lake cottage on Zukey Lake near Pinckney in Livingston County to be close to longtime friends.

It is a high demand area and it would have been their dream second home. They claim in a new federal civil rights lawsuit that they were illegally prevented from submitting an offer because they are an interracial couple.

They say they filed a complaint with the Livingston County Board of Realtors and filed their lawsuit after talking with federal housing officials.

Verdell Franklin tells 7 Action News, “the humiliating part was that this was robbed from our family maybe because of my color, my race.”

Julie Franklin grew up in Ireland and came to the U.S. as a child.

She says, “Nothing like this has ever happened to us and since it did, it’s just really devastating. It wipes your confidence out, just affects your whole life, your personality everything."

Verdell Franklin is the Chief Financial Officer in the Toledo Fire Department. Julie Franklin is a Nurse Anesthetist. The cottage they wanted to buy was listed for $350,000.

The lawsuit claims they wanted to submit a bid with their agent for $300,000 and their agent told them it had to be full cash and the older cottage would be sold as is.

They saw days later the cottage sold for $300, 000 and included a mortgage as theirs would have.

The lawsuit does not specify damages and was filed Friday in Federal Court in Detroit.

The timing of the lawsuit on this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr holiday is not lost on Franklins’ Attorney Robin Wagner who tells 7 Action News, “the fair housing act was passed a week after MLK was assassinated. It’s a powerful law. It was meant to stop this stuff from happening a long time ago.”

Richard “Rick” Beaudin was the listing agent named in the lawsuit. He tells 7 Action News he has not seen the lawsuit and had no dealings with the Franklins.

Mary Kay Ikens was the buyers’ agent listed in the lawsuit. She has not responded.