University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Blatch v. Franco DR-NY-0010
Docket / Court 1:97-cv-03918 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Public Housing
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On May 29, 1997, mentally disabled tenants of the New York City Housing Authority ("Housing Authority") who have been subjected to eviction proceedings filed a lawsuit, on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the ... read more >
On May 29, 1997, mentally disabled tenants of the New York City Housing Authority ("Housing Authority") who have been subjected to eviction proceedings filed a lawsuit, on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Housing Authority alleging violation of Due Process Clause and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12131, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and the Fair Housing Amendments Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604.

The plaintiffs, represented by the Legal Aid Society of New York, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief and attorney's fees. The complaint alleged that the Housing Authority discriminated against the plaintiffs by (1) failing to ensure that mentally disabled tenants where represented in eviction actions by those who were familiar with both Housing Authority actions and the rights of the mentally disabled, (2) failing to inform Housing Court that tenants they were suing for non-payment of rent in that court were potentially mentally disabled, and (3) arbitrarily terminating some of the plaintiffs' tenancies.

On December 1, 1999, after two years of litigation and the addition of three third-party plaintiff interveners, the District Court (Judge Denny Chin) certified the class.

After eight years of discovery and litigation and both sides' motion for summary judgment, on March 30, 2005 the District Court (Judge Laura Taylor Swain) ruled that: [1] occupants who do not have tenant interests in their homes do not have a property interest protected by the 14th Amendment; [2] the Housing Authority's policies violate the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment by failing to provide mentally disabled tenants that cannot meaningfully represent themselves with some form of meaningful representation in eviction hearings and failing to notify Housing Court of potentially mentally disabled; [3] the Housing Authority may have violated the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by failing to take sufficient actions to inform persons who were potentially mentally disabled of their rights to reasonable accommodations in the course of the eviction proceedings and the non-payment proceedings in Housing Court, but the court does not resolve this issue; [4] the Housing Authority and plaintiffs should negotiate the terms of an effective injunction that will ensure adequate detection of mentally disabled tenants who are incapable of representing themselves and the provision of representation for those tenants both in eviction proceedings and proceedings for non-payment of rent in Housing Court; [5] Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA do not require provision of professional representative services as they are individualized accommodations that are not provided for by the statutes and thus the plaintiffs were not entitled to representation under either statute; [6] the claims of arbitrary rulings are dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Blatch v. Franco, 360 F.Supp.2d 595 (S.D.N.Y. 2005).

After three years of negotiation, on December 16, 2008, the District Court (Judge Swan) approved a permanent injunction that required the appointment of legal guardians for mentally incompetent tenants facing eviction, the creation of a family grievance process, the communication of information about mental disability to the Housing Court, adoption of certain procedures by New York City Housing Authority to test for a tenant's mental competency, and process whereby the plaintiffs' counsel monitors the Housing Authority's compliance with the agreement.

On March 11, 2009, the District Court (Judge Swan) approved $575,000 in attorneys fees for plaintiff's class counsel.

On November 7, 2012, the District Court (Judge Swain) approved an amendment to the settlement agreement that extended the injunction until November 7, 2014 due to the plaintiffs' allegations that the defendants failed to follow the settlement agreement through the defendants' failing to inform the Housing Court of potentially mentally incompetent tenants in cases the defendants brought in that court for non-payment of rent.

On October 22, 2013, the parties agreed that the defendant would pay plaintiff counsel $35,000 for monitoring the defendants' compliance with the injunction.

As of this writing, the injunction is still in force so the case could be reopened.

Brian Kempfer - 01/19/2014


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Reporting
Defendant-type
Housing Authority
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Housing Sales/Rental
Medical Exam / Inquiry
Steering
Testing
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Access to public accommodations - privately owned
Communication skills
Courts
Failure to train
Government Services (specify)
Housing
Housing assistance
Improper treatment of mentally ill suspects
Reasonable Accommodations
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual disability/mental illness dual diagnosis
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Schizophrenia
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) New York City Housing Authority
Plaintiff Description Mentally disabled tenants of the New York City Housing Authority who faced or will face eviction actions.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2008 - 2014
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
Case Studies Insurer Must Pay $100.5 Million in Redlining Case
The New York Times
Written: Oct. 27, 1998
By: Joseph B. Treaster
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Nationwide Settles Virginia Redlining Suit
Property Casualty 360
Written: May. 06, 2000
By: Amanda Levin
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:97-cv-3918 (S.D.N.Y.) 10/22/2013
DR-NY-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion and Order on Motions for Summary Judgment 03/30/2005 (360 F.Supp.2d 595) (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0010-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Settlement 08/01/2008 (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Approving Settlement] 10/10/2008 (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Memorandum Opinion and Order [Approving Settlement] 11/03/2008 (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0010-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment 12/15/2008 (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0010-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order for Settlement of Attorneys' Fees, Costs and Disbursements 03/11/2009 (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0010-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amendment to Stipulation and Order of Settlement 10/12/2012 (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0010-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Pitman, Henry B. (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
DR-NY-0010-9000
Swain, Laura Taylor (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0010-0001 | DR-NY-0010-0002 | DR-NY-0010-0003 | DR-NY-0010-0004 | DR-NY-0010-0005 | DR-NY-0010-0006 | DR-NY-0010-0007 | DR-NY-0010-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Banks, Steven L. (New York)
DR-NY-0010-0002 | DR-NY-0010-0006
Benjamina, Elizabeth Ryden (New York)
DR-NY-0010-9000
Desir, Robert (New York)
DR-NY-0010-0002
Goldiner, Judith (New York)
DR-NY-0010-0002 | DR-NY-0010-0005 | DR-NY-0010-0006
Holder, Adriene L. (New York)
DR-NY-0010-0002
Rosenberg, Scott Alan (New York)
DR-NY-0010-0002
Sbrana, Lisa (New York)
DR-NY-0010-0002
Tabak, Ronald J. (New York)
DR-NY-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Frangiose, Mario (New York)
DR-NY-0010-9000
MacNeal, Kelly D. (New York)
DR-NY-0010-0006
Morales, Ricardo Elias (New York)
DR-NY-0010-0002
Pannell, Joan Rowena (New York)
DR-NY-0010-9000
Pelikow, Alan (New York)
DR-NY-0010-0002
Rappaport, Stephen Jay (New York)
DR-NY-0010-0002 | DR-NY-0010-0005 | DR-NY-0010-0006 | DR-NY-0010-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -