The case, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, names as defendants Daniel and Adrienne Sabbia, a white couple who owned the residence at 3300 South Normal Ave.; their real estate agent, Jeffrey Lowe; The Lowe Group Chicago, Inc.; and Midwest Realty Ventures, LLC, doing business as Prudential Rubloff Properties.
Willborn and his wife, Peyton, made an offer to buy the Sabbia's 8,000-square-foot Bridgeport mansion earlier this year. The Sabbias accepted the offer, but later backed out.
The suit claims Daniel Sabbia previously had advised Lowe he would prefer not to sell to an African American, though if the price was right he would sell to anybody.
After two days of negotiations, the Willborns accepted an offer of $1.7 million with an April 1 closing date, according to the suit. However, the Sabbias refused to sign the contract and took the house off the market for the third time.
The Willborns claim racial discrimination.
"The government is bringing this lawsuit to vindicate the right under federal law of all citizens to choose where to live in the Chicago area, free of illegal discrimination," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in a written statement.