University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name U.S. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company FH-WI-0001
Docket / Court 2:90-cv-00759-RTR ( E.D. Wis. )
State/Territory Wisconsin
Case Type(s) Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance
Attorney Organization NAACP Legal Defense Fund
U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
Plaintiffs, the NAACP and African-American homeowners in Milwaukee, filed suit in 1990 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, alleging that Defendant-Insurance Company had systemically discriminated against minority homeowners in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 ... read more >
Plaintiffs, the NAACP and African-American homeowners in Milwaukee, filed suit in 1990 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, alleging that Defendant-Insurance Company had systemically discriminated against minority homeowners in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., and the Wisconsin Open Housing Law, Wis. Stat. 101.22. Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendant refused to extend homeowners insurance or extended such insurance on less favorable terms to homeowners in predominantly minority neighborhoods in Milwaukee. U.S. District Court Judge J.P. Stadtmueller dismissed the FHA and state law claim, finding that the FHA does not cover insurance redlining and that the Plaintiffs lacked standing to assert the state law claim.

The Seventh Circuit reversed the District Court's ruling on the FHA claim on October 20, 1992. NAACP v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 978 F.2d 287 (7th Cir. 1992). The federal appellate court held that the FHA's prohibition against race-based housing discrimination includes discrimination involving race-based denials of homeowners insurance. The Supreme Court denied the Defendant-Insurance Company's petition for writ of certiorari in 1993. American Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. NAACP, 508 U.S. 907 (1993).

After the appellate court's ruling, the Department of Justice filed suit against the Defendant-Insurance Company on the FHA claim, and the District Court certified the private Plaintiffs' case as a class action. Without ever entering fact-findings, in 1995 the District Court accepted the parties' consent decree, which is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing/documents/amfamsettle.htm.

Under the terms of the consent decree, American Family agreed to an injunction against racial discrimination in insurance lending; to market its products and services to predominantly minority neighborhoods of Milwaukee; and to implement objective, race-neutral criteria for extending insurance coverage. The Defendant also consented to future testing procedures and to the creation of a Plaintiffs' committee to monitor implementation of the consent decree. The Defendant also agree to pay $9.5 million to community-based programs in Milwaukee and to create a $5 million fund to provide $10,000 in compensation to each person who had been discriminated against in the terms and conditions of their homeowners insurance or who had been wrongfully denied homeowners insurance by the Defendant. The District Court retained jurisdiction over the consent for five years.

Andrew Nash - 06/08/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-area
Insurance
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Funding
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action State law
Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 3601 et seq.
Defendant(s) American Family Mutual Insurance Company
Plaintiff Description Civil rights organization and eight members challenging redlining as form of racial discrimination in which insurers declined to write insurance or charged higher rates for people in certain areas
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NAACP Legal Defense Fund
U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought None on record
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1995 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2000
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
2:90-cv-00759-RTR (E.D. Wis.) 05/31/2000
FH-WI-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order 12/17/1990 (1990 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 18522) (E.D. Wis.)
FH-WI-0001-0003 PDF | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: LexisNexis
Opinion 12/07/1992 (978 F.2d 287)
FH-WI-0001-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order [Denying Writ of Certiorari] 05/17/1993 (508 U.S. 907)
FH-WI-0001-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Consent Decree 07/13/1995
FH-WI-0001-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Dep't of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement
Judges Blackmun, Harry Andrew (SCOTUS, Eighth Circuit)
FH-WI-0001-0004
Coffey, John Louis (Seventh Circuit)
FH-WI-0001-0002
Easterbrook, Frank Hoover (Seventh Circuit)
FH-WI-0001-0002
Fairchild, Thomas Edward (Seventh Circuit)
FH-WI-0001-0002
Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (SCOTUS, Ninth Circuit)
FH-WI-0001-0004
O'Connor, Sandra Day (SCOTUS)
FH-WI-0001-0004
Randa, Rudolph Thomas (E.D. Wis.)
FH-WI-0001-9000
Rehnquist, William Hubbs (SCOTUS)
FH-WI-0001-0004
Scalia, Antonin (SCOTUS, D.C. Circuit)
FH-WI-0001-0004
Souter, David Hackett (SCOTUS, First Circuit)
FH-WI-0001-0004
Stadtmueller, Joseph Peter (E.D. Wis.)
FH-WI-0001-0003
Stevens, John Paul (SCOTUS, Seventh Circuit)
FH-WI-0001-0004
Thomas, Clarence (SCOTUS, D.C. Circuit)
FH-WI-0001-0004
White, Byron Raymond (SCOTUS)
FH-WI-0001-0004
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abrams, Willie (Maryland)
FH-WI-0001-0001 | FH-WI-0001-0002 | FH-WI-0001-9000
Berman, Robert S. (District of Columbia)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Bolden, Victor A. (New York)
FH-WI-0001-9000
First, Curry (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0002 | FH-WI-0001-9000
Fisch, Susan Barbosa (District of Columbia)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Hall, James H. Jr. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001 | FH-WI-0001-0002 | FH-WI-0001-9000
Hancock, Paul F. (District of Columbia)
FH-WI-0001-0001 | FH-WI-0001-0002
Hayes, Dennis Courtland (Maryland)
FH-WI-0001-0001 | FH-WI-0001-9000
Jones, Elaine R. (New York)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Kelly, Walter F. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Koneazny, Peter M. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001 | FH-WI-0001-9000
Lynch, William H. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001 | FH-WI-0001-0002 | FH-WI-0001-9000
Miller, Gretchen E. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001 | FH-WI-0001-0002 | FH-WI-0001-9000
Moran, Timothy (District of Columbia)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Patterson, Patrick O. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Powell, John A. (New York)
FH-WI-0001-0002 | FH-WI-0001-9000
Scanlon, Kerry Alan (District of Columbia)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Schneider, Thomas P. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Walrath, James (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Eldridge, James F. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Esenberg, Richard M. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001 | FH-WI-0001-9000
McGrath, Brian W. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001 | FH-WI-0001-0002 | FH-WI-0001-9000
Oberdorfer, John L. (District of Columbia)
FH-WI-0001-0001
Shriner, Thomas L. Jr. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0001 | FH-WI-0001-0002 | FH-WI-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Dunne, John R. (District of Columbia)
FH-WI-0001-0002
Goldman, Jeffrey S. (Illinois)
FH-WI-0001-0002
Konrad, Daniel J. (West Virginia)
FH-WI-0001-0002
Langley, Grant F. (Wisconsin)
FH-WI-0001-0002
Silver, Jessica Dunsay (District of Columbia)
FH-WI-0001-0002
Thome, Linda F. (District of Columbia)
FH-WI-0001-0002

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