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 ...
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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