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Woman suing Cincinnati landlord for wrongful eviction, claiming racial discrimination

Tenant's lawyer showing text messages, voicemail allegedly from landlord
Eviction house
Posted at 11:05 PM, Mar 28, 2023

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A mother facing eviction is suing her landlord for racial discrimination. Dermisha Pickett claims her landlord texted her and left her voicemails saying he wanted her gone because of the color of her skin. Her landlord, though, is denying everything, saying Pickett made up the whole story.

Sergey Briskman is the landlord in the process of evicting Pickett and her six children. He said the eviction is because she trashed his house. Pickett said she never received any formal eviction notice and the only notice she received are text messages and voicemails. It's those very messages that are the basis of a counterclaim against Briskman.

"My initial thoughts are really four words — are you kidding me," said Fanon Rucker, Pickett's attorney. "This lawsuit, and the evidence that we have in this lawsuit, completely dispels whoever may be misled in believing that people are not still subjected to discriminatory actions by others who are unafraid to be openly racist."

Rucker said his client is disabled and has lived at the home for about eight years. The Cochran Law Firm sent WCPO alleged text messages and a voicemail from Briskman to Pickett.

One text message, allegedly sent on Feb. 10, said:

"I told you I'm not getting anything the inspection will fail because I'm not fixing anything or doing anything until you are gone but I told you I want you gone I will not rent African Americans again I don't know why the previous landlord did sorry I hope you found your place so please stop texting me."

Another on Feb. 15 said:

"It's nothing against you I will just rather put a white family in this unit You did nothing wrong I just don't want a family of color here maybe you should try to go to a shelter."

Then, on Feb. 26, he allegedly sent a message saying:

"Do you know when you will be giving me the keys times is running out I will talk to the other landlord and tell them you're a good tenant and pay the rent on time and always keep a clean house I just don't want you here at this property or have you looked into trying to get into a shelter for you and your family. I really don't want to call the Police to get your things out."

Woman sues landlord over eviction by WCPO 9 News on Scribd

"And for what, simply because she's Black! How offensive is that? If this doesn't make everybody who hears this angry then folks need to check their pulse," said Rucker. "Would you want to stay in a place even if it's been your home for that long whether the person telling you to get out has expressed what they did would you want to pay that person money? I certainly wouldn't."

Briskman responded to WCPO Tuesday night denying sending the text messages or the voicemail. He said he's not racist and that he's evicting her because she trashed his house. Briskman also claims someone was impersonating him and that he sent data from his phone to agents with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and that he will be exonerated when he presents his evidence in court.

There's an eviction hearing scheduled Friday morning at 10:30 a.m.

Terry Horton is Black. He says his property was valued $100,000 lower because of his race.
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