JD Howlette Law Files Federal Lawsuit Against Prince George's County And Awe-ar Iverson Mall, LLC For Civil Rights Violations And Fraud

By JD Howlette Law

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Maryland, May 30, 2023 – Today, JD Howlette Law announced that it filed a second federal civil rights lawsuit against Prince George’s County and AWE-AR Iverson Mall, LLC, this time on behalf of small business owner Khao Hoang. Similar to the allegations made in a prior federal complaint filed by local businessman Randy Richardson, Hoang's lawsuit charges the County with egregious violations of his constitutional rights, and seeks redress against the owners of Iverson Mall for the substantial harm caused by their fraudulent leasing practices. 

According to the complaint, in 2019, Hoang sought to open a hair and nail salon at the Shops at Iverson Mall in Temple Hills, Maryland (also known as "Iverson Mall"). Hoang obtained the required permits and passed all inspections for the Prince George’s County Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement (DPIE) to approve his Use and Occupancy (U&O) permit, which Hoang needed to lawfully open the business. The complaint alleges that DPIE approved Hoang’s U&O permit, but then refused to issue the approved permit to Hoang for nearly four years due to DPIE's official policy or custom that selectively discriminated against small minority business owners. To be clear, DPIE claimed that the approved U&O permit could not be issued because the owners of Iverson Mall did not have a valid U&O permit. Yet, at the same time, the Agency allowed other large business tenants to open at the mall despite the code deficiency.

In the complaint, Hoang contends that DPIE’s official policies and customs, along with the actions of its employees, deprived him of his fundamental rights to equal protection and due process under the law. In turn, Hoang suffered substantial financial harm in excess of $2.3 million, and was assessed a daily fine of $500 by the owners of Iverson Mall---the same individuals whose actions allegedly prevented DPIE from issuing Hoang's U&O permit. The complaint alleges that AWE-AR Iverson Mall, LLC (i.e., the prior owner of Iverson Mall) engaged in widespread fraud related to its leasing activities at Iverson Mall that harmed Hoang and other small business tenants.

“Mr. Hoang is one of several small minority business owners who have been substantially harmed by DPIE’s egregiously discriminatory permitting practices at Iverson Mall,” says Attorney Jordan D. Howlette, who represents Hoang in the lawsuit. “Simply put, DPIE cannot selectively refuse to issue U&O permits to qualified small business tenants at Iverson Mall while simultaneously issuing these permits to large businesses or those with political influence. At some point, the Office of the County Executive and the State’s Attorney Office need to take affirmative action to reign in this problematic Agency. Small business owners like Mr. Hoang are suffering significant harm in the interim. As with our other cases against DPIE, I look forward to obtaining swift justice for Mr. Hoang."