Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that certain provisions of the City of San Jose's 2017 Ordinance and implementing regulations, pertaining to the City's Apartment Rent Ordinance, violated plaintiffs' Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as the Contracts Clause. The challenged provisions of the Ordinance and Regulations require landlords to disclose information about rent stabilized units to the City and condition landlords' ability to increase rents on providing that information.The panel held that plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that the challenged provisions effect a search and thus their Fourth Amendment claim fails. In this case, plaintiffs offered no factual allegations plausibly suggesting that they maintain a reasonable expectation of privacy in information that, generally speaking, they already disclose to the City in other contexts. The panel also held that plaintiffs failed to raise a colorable Fifth Amendment takings claim, a Contracts Clause claim, an equal protection claim, and substantive and procedural due process claims. Finally, the Ordinance does not violate the "unconstitutional conditions" doctrine as enunciated in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, 570 U.S. 595 (2013). View "Hotop v. City of San Jose" on Justia Law

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For several years Miller provided Dix with living space in her basement, without payment of rent. Miller told Dix to move out so she could sell the house. He refused; Miller called the police. Officers told Miller that she could not evict Dix without a court order. Miller called the police again the next day. Officers arrived, allegedly knowing that there had been no domestic disturbance. They prevented Dix from entering the house while Miller hauled Dix’s things outside. Dix protested and yelled insults. Officers threatened to arrest him for disorderly conduct. Eventually, Dix left and got a moving van. When he returned, the officers allowed him inside to retrieve his property but refused him access to certain rooms and took his keys.Dix a pro se suit, with 12 causes of action against nine defendants. The district court struck the pleading citing “redundant, impertinent, and scandalous allegations.” Dix amended his complaint. adding seven causes of action and five defendants, including Fourth Amendment claims against the officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. With respect to the Fourth Amendment claims, the court noted that Dix was free to leave at any time and that Miller maintained complete possession and control over her home but had granted Dix a revocable license. When a license is revoked, the licensee becomes a trespasser. A seizure of property occurs when there is meaningful interference with an individual’s possessory interests; here there was none. Even if there were a seizure, it was reasonable. View "Dix v. Edelman Financial Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that a landlord may be liable under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for intentionally discriminating against a tenant who complains about a racially hostile housing environment that is created by and leads to the arrest and conviction of another tenant. In this case, the landlord allegedly refused to take any action to address what it knew to be a racially hostile housing environment created by one tenant targeting another, even though the landlord had acted against other tenants to redress prior, non‐race related issues. In holding that a landlord may be liable in those limited circumstances, the court adhered to the FHA's broad language and remedial scope. The court also held that post-acquisition claims that arise from intentional discrimination are cognizable under section 3604 of the FHA. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims under the FHA and analogous New York State law, as well as his claims under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and 82. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc." on Justia Law

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A landlord may be liable under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA) for failing to take prompt action to address a racially hostile housing environment created by one tenant targeting another, where the landlord knew of the discriminatory conduct and had the power to correct it. The Second Circuit adhered to the FHA's broad language and remedial scope, holding that the FHA reaches conduct that, as here, would constitute discrimination in the enjoyment of residence in a dwelling or in the provision of services associated with that dwelling after acquisition. Furthermore, HUD's 2016 Final Rule, HUD's other implementing regulations, and the views expressed in its amicus brief only reinforce the court's textual interpretation that a landlord may be liable under the FHA for failing to intervene in tenant-on-tenant racial harassment of which it knew or reasonably should have known and had the power to address.In this case, plaintiff alleged that defendants had actual knowledge of the tenant's criminal racial harassment of plaintiff but, because it involved race, intentionally allowed it to continue even though defendants had the power to end it. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims under the FHA and analogous New York State law, as well as his claims under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and 1982. The panel remanded for further proceedings. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court vacating an award of fees incurred during agency proceedings under a fee-shifting provision in Division II of the Davenport Civil Rights Ordinance for a housing discrimination violation charged under Division III that lacked a corresponding fee-shifting remedy, holding that that the district court correctly denied an award of attorney fees.A tenant filed a complaint with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission alleging discrimination based on familial status in violation of the Davenport Civil Rights Ordinance and the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). An administrative law judge found that the landlord committed a Division III fair housing violation and award the tenant both damages and attorney fees and costs. The Commission approved the ALJ’s decision. The district court reversed the damages award and vacated the fee award. The court of appeals reinstated the fee award. The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in awarding attorney fees because (1) the fee-shifting provision in Division II of the Ordinance was inapplicable to the fair housing violation in Division III; and (2) the Commission could not award fees under the FHA. View "Seeberger v. Davenport Civil Rights Commission" on Justia Law

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The Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1996 (FCIA) does not limit injunctive relief against an executive branch officer enforcing a court order, and the Sheriff in this case was not entitled to immunity from plaintiffs' request for declaratory and injunctive relief. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a class action challenging the constitutionality of Washington Revised Code 59.18.375, which allows tenants to be evicted from their homes without a court hearing. The panel held that original plaintiffs had standing to sue at the time they filed this action, which was the relevant time frame for analyzing Article III standing; plaintiffs who were subsequently added to the action did not have standing to sue because their circumstances left their prospects of injury too speculative to support Article III standing; and, even after original plaintiffs settled their dispute with their landlord, the action was not moot because the dispute was capable of repetition, yet evading review.On the merits, the panel held that the district court misread the statute and that the text of section 375 makes clear that a hearing was not mandatory; the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not apply because plaintiffs were not asking the district court to review and reject the judgment entered against them in state court; the Sheriff's two alternative arguments for affirmance of the district court's judgment -- that the action must be brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and that the Sheriff was entitled to qualified immunity -- lacked merit; and the Sheriff's remaining arguments were without merit. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Moore v. Urquhart" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action challenging the City's policy of denying tenants the opportunity to open water accounts in their own name and shutting off water service to tenants when landlords fail to pay water bills. The Second Circuit held that the City's policy of denying tenants the opportunity to open water accounts satisfied the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held, however, that the City's water shutoff policy violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. While the City has offered sufficient reasons for its policy of refusing to allow tenants to open their own water accounts and thus satisfied the rational basis test, the City's practice of terminating water service to tenants when a landlord failed to pay the water bill was not rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Winston v. City of Syracuse" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action challenging the City's policy of denying tenants the opportunity to open water accounts in their own name and shutting off water service to tenants when landlords fail to pay water bills. The Second Circuit held that the City's policy of denying tenants the opportunity to open water accounts satisfied the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held, however, that the City's water shutoff policy violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. While the City has offered sufficient reasons for its policy of refusing to allow tenants to open their own water accounts and thus satisfied the rational basis test, the City's practice of terminating water service to tenants when a landlord failed to pay the water bill was not rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Winston v. City of Syracuse" on Justia Law

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Thorncreek, a Park Forest townhouse complex, applied to the Village for a permit to use a vacant townhouse as a business office but began to conduct its business from the townhouse without a permit. The Village cited it for zoning violations and operating without the required permit. The Village later filed suit to halt the zoning and operating violations and to redress certain building-code violations. Thorncreek counterclaimed against the Village and 10 officials, claiming civil-rights violations under 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986 and the Illinois Civil Rights Act. Two Thorncreek "areas" went into foreclosure. Thorncreek blamed the Village’s regulatory overreach in denying a business license, interfering with business operations, refusing to grant a conditional use permit, failing to issue a certificate of occupancy, and unequally enforcing a building-code provision requiring electrical upgrades, based on irrational animus against Clapper, the owner, and racial bias against its black residents. A jury found the Village and Village Manager Mick liable for a class-of-one equal-protection violation; found Mick and Kerestes, the director of community development, liable for conspiracy (section 1985(3)); otherwise rejected the claims, and awarded $2,014,000 in compensatory damages. Because the jury rejected the race-based equal-protection claim, the judge struck the verdict against Kerestes. The judge awarded $430,999.25 in fees and $44,844.33 in costs. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the judgment against Mick, the admission of evidence concerning Clapper’s wealth, and the admission of Thorncreek’s financial records. View "Thorncreek Apartments I, LLC v. Village of Park Forest" on Justia Law

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Thorncreek, a Park Forest townhouse complex, applied to the Village for a permit to use a vacant townhouse as a business office but began to conduct its business from the townhouse without a permit. The Village cited it for zoning violations and operating without the required permit. The Village later filed suit to halt the zoning and operating violations and to redress certain building-code violations. Thorncreek counterclaimed against the Village and 10 officials, claiming civil-rights violations under 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986 and the Illinois Civil Rights Act. Two Thorncreek "areas" went into foreclosure. Thorncreek blamed the Village’s regulatory overreach in denying a business license, interfering with business operations, refusing to grant a conditional use permit, failing to issue a certificate of occupancy, and unequally enforcing a building-code provision requiring electrical upgrades, based on irrational animus against Clapper, the owner, and racial bias against its black residents. A jury found the Village and Village Manager Mick liable for a class-of-one equal-protection violation; found Mick and Kerestes, the director of community development, liable for conspiracy (section 1985(3)); otherwise rejected the claims, and awarded $2,014,000 in compensatory damages. Because the jury rejected the race-based equal-protection claim, the judge struck the verdict against Kerestes. The judge awarded $430,999.25 in fees and $44,844.33 in costs. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the judgment against Mick, the admission of evidence concerning Clapper’s wealth, and the admission of Thorncreek’s financial records. View "Thorncreek Apartments I, LLC v. Village of Park Forest" on Justia Law