A judge has ordered a Lawrence landlord to pay more than $110,000 for refusing to rent to an unmarried interracial couple in 2002.
But when reached by cell phone Tuesday, 85-year-old landlord Rex Youngquist refused to answer "yes" or "no" to the question of whether he intended to pay the damages.
"What difference does it make to you?" he asked. "I don't know how I could possibly be expected to pay anything, do you?"
Jurors in May found that Youngquist and two of his daughters committed illegal housing discrimination by refusing to rent to Adrienne Morales, who is Hispanic, and Wayne Jackson, who is black, at Villa 26 Townhomes, 2109 W. 26th St.
One of the daughters, apartment manager Lynne Sander, testified it was because the Lord had recently told her not to rent to unmarried couples. But unmarried white couples were allowed to keep renting in the complex.
In a ruling released Tuesday in District Court, Judge Stephen Six ordered Youngquist to pay $75,000 in punitive damages. The amount was calculated based on factors including Youngquist's attitude - which Six described as a "lack of interest in preventing discrimination" - and his financial condition.
Six wrote that Youngquist never has had training in fair-housing laws and didn't seek out information about fair housing after the incident.
"Why do I have to take advice from anybody? I'm an American, born an American," Youngquist said. "I don't think I discriminate against anybody. It's not in my blood."
Youngquist said he believed the case against him was "ridiculous" and that the trial was heard by "a stacked jury."
Youngquist refused to hand over information about his finances after the jury verdict, but Six found there was enough evidence to show that he "is a wealthy person" - with vacation homes in South America, oil investments in Texas and one floor of a high-rise building in Panama.
The judge added a $1,000 sanction against Youngquist for not providing information about his finances.
Six found that apartment manager Sander "made some attempt to learn about fair housing issues" after the incident, and he ordered her to pay $1,000 in punitive damages.
Youngquist's other daughter, Gail Youngquist, who was a co-owner of the complex, was not ordered to pay punitive damages.
Six also ordered the defendants to pay $35,000 total in attorneys' fees incurred by the city's Human Relations Commission, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of the couple.
The total amount of legal fees sought by the city was roughly $58,000, which was the amount billed by attorneys Bruce Plenk and Max Kautsch.
Morales and Jackson couldn't be reached Tuesday for comment.
Kautsch said it was too early to tell exactly how the award would be divided between the city and the couple.