On March 4, 2009, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, against a private multi-family housing provider under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The U.S. sought injunctive and monetary relief, alleging that ...
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On March 4, 2009, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, against a private multi-family housing provider under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The U.S. sought injunctive and monetary relief, alleging that the defendant designed and constructed housing in violation of the accessibility requirements of the FHA and the ADA.
On May 8, 2009, defendants answered, arguing that the FHA does not create particular technical design standards and that their buildings were well within the flexible guidelines created by the FHA and the ADA. The defendants also argued that not all of the structures named in the Complaint were designed or constructed by the defendants, but if any units violated either Act, the issues were minor, discrete, and easily resolvable.
The court ordered discovery to proceed in three phases, with the first phase limited to 52 properties in 18 states and Washington, D.C. DOJ retained accessibility experts to examine the properties and prepare reports for the court, as did defendants.
On April 15, 2011, DOJ sought Partial Summary Judgment as to Liability, arguing that conditions at 32 of the 52 multifamily housing complexes identified in the first phase of discovery established a pattern or practice of discrimination against persons with a disability in violation of the FHA and the ADA. Defendants also sought partial summary judgment with respect to the remaining 20 properties no longer at issue.
In November 2011, the Magistrate Judge (Magistrate Judge Jeff Kaplan) issued his Findings and Recommendations to deny the motions for partial summary judgment; this was adopted by the district court on January 9, 2012.
The parties then settled; on June 25, 2012, the court entered a Consent Order and dismissed all claims with prejudice. The Consent Order includes an injunction to prevent the defendant from discriminating on the basis of disability as described in the FHA and the ADA and orders the defendants to pay $10.25 million into an accessibility fund to be used to develop the accessible housing stock and to retrofit existing housing units. The defendants were also ordered to pay $250,000 to the United States Treasury as a civil penalty, the largest such penalty in a DOJ FHA case to date. (DOJ press release: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/June/12-crt-802.html) The defendants, for the duration of the order, must provide information to the United States regarding the design and construction of any multi-family housing units built by the defendants or related entities. The order remains in effect for 3 years from the date it was entered. Elizabeth Daligga - 06/29/2012
Asma Husain - 02/14/2016