News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.


Supreme Court Dismisses RESPA Case, Allowing Fair Housing Clinic to Pursue in District Court

The U.S. Supreme Court’s dismissal in First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards, 567 U. S. ____ (2012) allows C|M|LAW’s Fair Housing Clinic to go back to the District Court on a class action case asserting violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.  By dismissing the case, the Supreme Court let stand an appellate court decision holding that the plaintiffs-homeowners  had standing. Edwards v. First Am. Corp. , 610 F.3d 514 (9th Cir. 2010).  The Supreme Court dismissed the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted.

The issue before the Supreme Court was whether a homeowner has  standing to sue under RESPA, 12 USC 2607, when a provider of title insurance gives kickbacks to title insurance agents involved in a home sale, but the price, quality, or other characteristics of the settlement services provided to that homeowner were not directly affected.   The Fair Housing Clinic filed a merit brief with the Supreme Court for the Plaintiffs,  asserting that RESPA creates a statutory cause of action, thus the Plaintiffs have standing.  Congress created the cause of action to prevent conflicts of interest that arise when a real estate professional accepts kickbacks for referrals, because these conflicts  tend to increase the cost and decrease the quality of settlement services for all consumers.

The Fair Housing Clinic is  looking forward to pursuing the case on behalf of 3,000 to 3,500 Clevelanders who used a title insurance agent that allegedly received kickbacks.

Washington Post article.

Our Prior Posts:  Fair Housing Clinic to Work on U.S. Supreme Court Case, Fair Housing Clinic Files U.S. Supreme Court Brief, Fair Housing Clinic Attends Oral Argument.

 


Fair Housing Clinic Files Amicus Brief for SCOTUS Disparate Impact Case

C|M|LAW’s Fair Housing Clinic filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of  Magner v. Gallagher10-1032.   The issues in this case are:

(1) Whether a lawsuit can be brought for a violation of the Fair Housing Act based on a practice that is not discriminatory on its own, but has a discriminatory effect; and, if so, (2) how should courts determine whether a practice has a discriminatory effect and violates the Act?

For a summary of the facts of this case, see our prior post: Fair Housing Clinic Works on Another Supreme Court Case.

The Clinic’s brief asserted that a Fair Housing Act violation could be based on disparate impact, and urged a modified Arlington Heights II standard for governmental actors, as used in Arthur v. City of Toledo, Ohio, 782 F.2d 565, 574-575 (6th Cir.  1986) and Buckeye Cmty. Hope Found. v. City of Cuyahoga Falls, 263 F.3d 627, (6th Cir. 2001), rev’d in part, vacated in part sub nom. 538 U.S. 188 (2003).   The Clinic’s brief was one of 9 amicus briefs filed in support of this theory.

The brief’s authors include: attorneys Brad D. Eier, Jeremy M. Samuels and Thomas G. Haren and Fair Housing Law Clinic  students Alexis B. Boursier, Lauren Hamilton, Gerald Henn  and Charles Murphy.

Fair Housing Clinic Gets TRO to Prevent Eviction Due to Assistance Dog

The Fair Housing Clinic obtained a temporary restraining order to halt the eviction of a disabled women being evicted because she has a service animal.

Professor Ed Kramer, Brad Eier, Of Counsel and Gerald Henn law student of the Fair Housing Clinic and the Office of Ohio Attorney Michael Dewine and Assistant Ohio Attorney General Marilyn Tobocman acted to get the TRO, which will stop any eviction until a preliminary injunction hearing can be held. A complaint was filed for declaratory judgment, temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, and damages for discrimination on the basis of handicap in the rental of housing pursuant to the Ohio Fair Housing Act of 1965, as amended, ORC §§ 4112.02 et seq. The Defendants are the owners, managers, and/or employees of a residential apartment complex.

UPDATE:  A partial settlement was reached on December 22, where the apartment complex agreed to drop the eviction, making the preliminary injunction issue moot.  The claims for a permanent injunction and damages are still pending.

Photo: Prof Ed Kramer, Laurie Schlemann, Attorney Brad Eier and Brutus with TRO Order at the Justice Center

 

 

Fair Housing Clinic Works on Another Supreme Court Case

This Spring Semester, the C|M|LAW’s Fair Housing Clinic will be doing an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of  Magner v. Gallagher10-1032 .  According to Professor Ed Kramer of the Fair Housing Clinic, this case presents the most serious challenge to civil rights in this country in four decades.

ISSUES:  (1) Whether a lawsuit can be brought for a violation of the Fair Housing Act based on a practice that is not discriminatory on its own, but has a discriminatory effect; and, if so, (2) how should courts determine whether a practice has a discriminatory effect and violates the Act? (From the Scotus blog)

The plaintiffs (rental property owners) claim that the defendants (City of St. Paul, and certain employees of the City of St. Paul) violated the Fair Housing Act 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a) by aggressively enforcing the City’s housing code against rental properties, but not against owner-occupied housing.  According to the plaintiffs/respondents, because a disproportionate number of renters are African-American, and Respondents rent to many African-Americans, requiring them to meet the housing code will increase their costs and decrease the number of units they make available to rent to African-American tenants.  The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City, but the  Eighth Circuit reversed, finding that Respondents should be allowed to proceed to trial because they presented sufficient evidence of a “disparate impact” on African- Americans.  619 F.3d 823.

Professor Kramer says,  “The Supreme Court decision on whether the Fair Housing Act (FHA) permits disparate impact claims can have the most serious impact on enforcing equal housing opportunities since the enactment of the law in 1968.”  The brief drafted by  our clinic will be joined by fair housing groups, local governments, civil rights agencies and professors using statistical analysis.

 

I hope you will join the Clinic in fighting this most serious challenge to civil rights in this country in four decades!

 

 

Fair Housing Clinic Students/Faculty Attend Supreme Court Oral Argument

Fair Housing Clinic students and faculty attended oral arguments for the case they worked on, First American Financial Corporation v. Edwards, U.S. Supreme Ct. Case No. No. 10-708.  Here is the oral argument transcript.  There is a Plain Dealer Article about the case and a brief Ohio Public Radio Interview with Professor Ed Kramer.

See our prior posts about the case: and

Photo: Denise Edwards. Ed Kramer, Julia Kazmers, Todd Glassman, Brad Eier, Natalie HarperJose Roman, Jeremy Samuels, and Gerald Henn Fall 2011 Fair Housing Law Clinic at US. Supreme Court on 11-28-2011 after the oral argument in their case