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Case Name Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch IM-TX-0028
Docket / Court 3:08-cv-01551-B ( N.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Immigration
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
MALDEF
Case Summary
On September 3, 2008, several lessors and lessees of residential accommodations in Farmers Branch, Texas, filed a lawsuit against that city in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, under the Supremacy Clause; 42 U.S.C. § 1981; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the Fair ... read more >
On September 3, 2008, several lessors and lessees of residential accommodations in Farmers Branch, Texas, filed a lawsuit against that city in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, under the Supremacy Clause; 42 U.S.C. § 1981; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et. seq.; and the Texas Equal Rights Amendment. The plaintiffs, represented by private and public interest counsel, asked the court for monetary, declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the city's recently adopted Ordinance 2952 violated both the federal and state constitutions and the FHA. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the ordinance's requirement that anyone wishing to rent a home or apartment prove U.S. citizenship or lawful residence and its requirement that landlords evict all tenants that cannot produce such proof were preempted by federal immigration law, in violation of the due process clause of the federal constitution, and in violation of equal protection measures in the federal and state constitutions and the FHA.

The Northern District had already permanently enjoined a substantially similar law, Ordinance 2903, on May 28, 2008. (See IM-TX-0003, and the two cases consolidated with it, IM-TX-0001 and IM-TX-0002, for more information; see also IM-TX-0004, a case on the ordinance brought in Texas state court.) Ordinance 2952 was passed in response to this injunction, and differed from its predecessor in two main ways: (1) it did not incorporate the HUD (Housing and Urban Development) classification system for non-citizen eligibility for housing, and (2) it reserved all determinations of immigration status to the federal government instead of deputizing landlords or local officials.

On September 12, 2008, the Court (Judge Jane J. Boyle) entered a temporary restraining order against Ordinance 2952, and on September 22 it granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction.

After a series of disputes over discovery and admissible evidence in 2009, on March 24, 2010, the Court (Judge Boyle) granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and denied that of the defendant. Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, 701 F. Supp. 2d 835 (N.D. Tex. 2010). It held that the ordinance was preempted by the Supremacy Clause, in that it was an attempt to regulate in the exclusively federal sphere of immigration, and that it was further preempted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101, et seq., which was meant to be the only means of adjudicating the status of non-citizens and the uniform enforcement of which the ordinance undermined. On March 24, the Court issued an order permanently enjoining the ordinance from being enforced.

The defendants appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and after hearing arguments (October 4, 2011), a three-judge panel (Judge Thomas M. Reavley, Judge Jennifer W. Elrod and Judge James E. Graves Jr.) affirmed the lower court's decision on March 21, 2012. Villas at Parkside Partner v. City of Farmers Branch, 675 F.3d 802 (5th Cir. 2012). In an opinion by Judge Reavley, the panel held that the ordinance was not, as the city maintained, a residential housing regulation, but an impermissible attempt to regulate immigration that impeded the federal government's ability to uniformly enforce its immigration laws and threatened to interfere with its handling of foreign affairs. Judge Elrod, dissenting in part, would have held that the ordinance merely attached consequences to a federal determination of immigration status and did not attempt to regulate immigration per se, but that it was nonetheless preempted in part because the ordinance granted jurisdiction to state courts to review the immigration status of individuals, thus inferring with federal enforcement.

After the appellate ruling Farmer's Branch petitioned for a rehearing of the case en banc (on the bench), which a majority of the Fifth Circuit appellate court judges approved on July 31, 2012. En banc hearings are a rare procedure in which all the appellate judges for the circuit (or, for a particularly numerous circuit, a large number of the judges) hear the case. It is used only when the issue is particularly important or there is a need to maintain or establish uniformity of decisions within the circuit.

On July 22, 2013, in a 9-5 judgement, the 14-judge en banc panel struck down the ordinance. The 5-judge plurality opinion (Judge Stephen A. Higginson) held the criminal provisions of the ordinance to be conflict-preempted for presenting an obstacle to the purposes of federal anti-harboring law and federal authority to arrest and detain for possible unlawful presence, while the judicial review section of the ordinance was held to be explicitly preempted because federal law reserves the power to classify non-citizens to the federal government. The plurality proceeded to invalidate the entire law because they found the impermissible portions to be unseverable. The Reavely and Dennis opinions held the entirety of the ordinance conflict-preemtped on broader grounds. In her partial concurrence/partial dissent, Judge Owen found only subsection (E)(4) and a sentence of (E)(5) from the judicial review section to be preempted, holding the rest of the ordinance not to be in conflict with federal law.

The 5-judge dissent (Judges Edith H. Jones and Jennifer Walker Elrod) found an even narrower portion of the ordinance's judicial review provisions to have been preempted, maintaining that the rest of the ordinance was not in conflict with federal law. The dissent further found that the plurality's severability analysis was flawed, explaining that the ordinance could stand on its own, even divested of criminal penalties, because of the presence of the civil penalties.

As of this writing it is not yet clear whether Farmers Branch will seek Supreme Court review.

Christopher Schad - 06/04/2012
Kenneth Gray - 07/30/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Federalism
Immigration
Constitutional rights
Undocumented immigrants - state and local regulation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
42 U.S.C. § 1981
Defendant(s) City of Farmers Branch, TX
Plaintiff Description owners of and residents at several apartment complexes in Farmers Branch, Texas
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
MALDEF
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2010 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Threats to the Future of the Immigration Class Action
Washington University Journal of Law and Policy
By: Jill E. Family (Widener University School of Law)
Citation: 27 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 71 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:08−cv−01551 (N.D. Tex.) 05/24/2013
IM-TX-0028-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Ordinance No. 2952 01/22/2008
IM-TX-0028-0008 PDF | External Link | Detail
Plaintiffs' Complaint and Jury Demand 09/03/2008
IM-TX-0028-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (consolidating with Case No. 08-1551) 09/16/2008 (N.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0028-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Press Release 03/24/2010
IM-TX-0028-0001 PDF | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order 03/24/2010 (701 F.Supp.2d 835) (N.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0028-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (5th Cir.) 03/21/2012 (675 F.3d 802)
IM-TX-0028-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
Order (granting En Banc rehearing) 07/31/2012 (688 F.3d 801)
IM-TX-0028-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
En Banc Opinion 07/22/2013 (726 F.3d 524)
IM-TX-0028-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
Judges Boyle, Jane J. (N.D. Tex.) [Magistrate]
IM-TX-0028-0002 | IM-TX-0028-0003 | IM-TX-0028-9000
Clement, Edith Brown (Fifth Circuit, E.D. La.)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Davis, W. Eugene (Fifth Circuit, W.D. La.)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Dennis, James L. (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Elrod, Jennifer Walker (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0004 | IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Garza, Emilio M. (Fifth Circuit, W.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0028-0006
Graves, James Earl Jr. (State Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0004 | IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Haynes, Catharina (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0006
Higginson, Stephen Andrew (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Jolly, E. Grady (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Jones, Edith Hollan (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Owen, Priscilla Richman (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Prado, Edward Charles (Fifth Circuit, W.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Reavley, Thomas Morrow (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0004 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Smith, Jerry Edwin (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Southwick, Leslie (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Stewart, Carl E. (Fifth Circuit)
IM-TX-0028-0006 | IM-TX-0028-0007
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anello, Farrin R (New York)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Biles, C. Dunham (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-0005 | IM-TX-0028-9000
Brewer, William A. III (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-0005 | IM-TX-0028-9000
Renard, James S. (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-0005 | IM-TX-0028-9000
Smith, Michael L. (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-0005 | IM-TX-0028-9000
Solano, Henry L. (New York)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Ternan, Jack GB (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dowdy, William Trey C. III (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Hethmon, Michael M. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Jung, P. Michael (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Kobach, Kris W. (Missouri)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Masso, Jadd F (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Shanes, Scott (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Other Lawyers Bernal, Diego Manuel (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Broiles, David (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Graybill, Lisa Shawn (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-0001 | IM-TX-0028-9000
Guttentag, Lucas (California)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Jadwat, Omar C. (New York)
IM-TX-0028-0001 | IM-TX-0028-9000
Newell, Jennifer Chang (California)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Perales, Nina (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-0001 | IM-TX-0028-9000
Perez, Marisol Linda (Texas)
IM-TX-0028-9000
Valerian, Dominic (California)
IM-TX-0028-9000

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