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Case Name Briggs v. Borough of Norristown FH-PA-0007
Docket / Court 2:13-cv-02191-ER ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On October 10, 2013 a female African-American victim of domestic violence filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff sued under the Federal Fair Housing Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Borough ... read more >
On October 10, 2013 a female African-American victim of domestic violence filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff sued under the Federal Fair Housing Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Borough of Norristown. The plaintiff, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Women's Rights Project, and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages for violation of the plaintiff's first, fourth, and fourteenth amendment rights. The plaintiff specifically alleged that she risked eviction from her home and bodily injury due to the enforcement of two consecutive ordinances that permitted landlords to evict tenants where tenants have required the assistance of law enforcement for repeated incidents of "disorderly behavior," including instances of domestic violence.

Between April and September 2012, the defendants enforced the Old Ordinance against the plaintiff's landlord and attempted to remove the plaintiff from her home because police were called too many times. The plaintiff was placed on a 30-day probationary period, during which she was attacked and almost killed by her former boyfriend, but did not call police for fear that she would lose her home. The defendants continued to take steps to remove the plaintiff from her home until the plaintiff's counsel interceded and demonstrated how the enforcement of the Old Ordinance violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights. The defendants proceeded to enact a nearly identical replacement ordinance (the "New Ordinance") in December 2012, with the addition of enforcement of criminal fines against the landlords.

On October 30, 2014, the parties settled. The defendant agreed to pay the plaintiff $495,000 in damages and to repeal the Ordinance. Further, in the future the defendants agreed not adopt an ordinance that would penalize a resident, tenant, or landlord as a result of requests for police or emergency assistance made by or on behalf of a victim of abuse.

Anna Jones - 10/04/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Housing Sales/Rental
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Housing
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Borough of Norristown
Plaintiff Description Female African-American victim of repeated domestic violence who faced potential eviction from a rental property.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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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 ]

  The Origins of Fair Lending Litigation
Written: Dec. 04, 2008
By: Andrew Nash (Washington University in St. Louis)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:13-cv-2191 (E.D. Pa.) 03/10/2013
FH-PA-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint 04/24/2013
FH-PA-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 10/03/2013
FH-PA-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Release and Settlement Agreement 09/18/2014
FH-PA-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source:
Order to Dismiss 10/30/2014 (E.D. Pa.)
FH-PA-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Robreno, Eduardo C. (E.D. Pa.)
FH-PA-0007-0002 | FH-PA-0007-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Grant, M. Duncan (Delaware)
FH-PA-0007-0001 | FH-PA-0007-0003 | FH-PA-0007-9000
Harris, Alexander L. (Pennsylvania)
FH-PA-0007-9000
Jenkins, Timothy Stephen (Pennsylvania)
FH-PA-0007-0001 | FH-PA-0007-0003 | FH-PA-0007-9000
Lapidus, Lenora M. (New Jersey)
FH-PA-0007-0001 | FH-PA-0007-9000
Levine, Matthew E. (Pennsylvania)
FH-PA-0007-0001 | FH-PA-0007-0003 | FH-PA-0007-9000
Park, Sandra S. (New York)
FH-PA-0007-0001 | FH-PA-0007-0003 | FH-PA-0007-9000
Rose, Sara (Pennsylvania)
FH-PA-0007-0001 | FH-PA-0007-0003 | FH-PA-0007-9000
Smith, Peter M. (Pennsylvania)
FH-PA-0007-0001 | FH-PA-0007-0003 | FH-PA-0007-9000
Walczak, Witold J. (Pennsylvania)
FH-PA-0007-0001 | FH-PA-0007-0003 | FH-PA-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Didomenicis, Robert P. (Pennsylvania)
FH-PA-0007-0003 | FH-PA-0007-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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