When used in the context of a claim under the Fair Housing Act or Americans with Disabilities Act the words “disability” and “handicap” have specific legal meanings. Our last blog looked at a case, Houston v. DTN Operating,* discussing what a plaintiff must plead concerning her disability in a reasonable accommodation case. Today we’re looking another recent case, Haws v. Norman, 2017 WL 4221064 (D. Utah Sept. 20, 2017) that considers the next step – a motion for summary judgment by the plaintiff. There is plenty of interest in the opinion on related subjects**, but the Court’s ruling on proof of disability and necessity of accommodation is especially important to landlords who suspect a disability claim is not justified. More
By richardhunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, FHA, Residential Development, Statute of Limitatinos Tags: Department of Justice, FHA ADA litigation "statute of limitations" strategy DOJ "attorney general" enforcement, FHA Litigation
I often remind my clients that when it comes to the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act the adage “ignorance is bliss” does not apply. Last week’s decision from the Southern District of Mississippi, U.S. v. Dawn Properties, Inc. et al 2014 WL 5775324 (S.D. Miss. Nov. 6, 2014) is a reminder that ignorance may turn corporate liability into personal liability for managers or owners, and that time may not be enough to insure safety.
The underlying business deals were common in the real estate development business. An LLC, Ridgeland Construction One LLC, was created to develop an apartment complex. Construction was finished in 2000 and the LLC was merged into a Delaware LLC of the same name. It was then sold to a new group of investors. In 2006 the property was sold and, two years later, the LLC was dissolved. No one involved suspected that there might be FHA accessibility violations although it appears no survey was ever conducted to make sure. More
By richardhunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Legislation, ADA FHA Litigation General, Apartments, Condominiums, FHA, Multi-Family, Residential Development Tags: Apartments, Condominiums, FHA Litigation, private lawsuits
Until 2011 it was clear that a person who purchased an existing multi-family development or apartment complex and was not affiliated with the original owner did not have the kind of liability that would require making every unit accessible. “Design/build” liability of that kind was reserved to the original owner of the project based on 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3), HUD’s informal guidance and cases like Silver State Fair Housing Council, Inc. v. ERGS, Inc., 362 F.Supp.2d 1218 (D.Nev.2005). Then, in April of 2011 the District Court in the Middle District of Florida denied a Motion to Dismiss filed by a subsequent owner, finding that it might be possible to prove that merely owning an apartment complex that did not meet FHA standards would constitute discrimination under 42 U.S.C. §3605(f)(1) or (2). Harding v. Orlando Apartments, LLC, 2011 WL 1457164 (M.D. Fla. 2011). More
By richardhunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, Condominiums, FHA, Multi-Family, Residential Development Tags: Apartments, architects, Condominiums, contractors, FHA Litigation
On April 30, 2013 HUD and the Department of Justice issued a “Joint Statement” concerning FHA issues. It includes some straightforward tips about compliance with the FHA, but also includes some examples of how these agencies pick and choose among statutes and regulations in ways that might be hard to predict.
The first example is found in item 59. Both HUD and DOJ reject the 9th Circuit’s understanding of the statute of limitations in FHA cases although it is the highest court authority on the issue. In Garcia v. Brockway, 526 F.3d 456 (9th Cir. 2008) the Ninth Circuit held that design/build claims under the FHA accrued for limitations purposes when the project was completed. This result can be avoided only by alleging a continuing practice of discrimination (see cases cited in National Fair Housing Alliance, Inc. v. HHHunt Corp., 2013 WL 335877 (W.D.Va. 2013)). Despite this, HUD flatly states that it will accept complaints based on its own interpretation of the law. More
By richardhunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, Professional services, Public Facilities, Residential Development, Restaurants Tags: ada litigation, ADA pleading, ADA standing, private lawsuits, private litigants
What does it mean when a plaintiff has standing to sue on a claim but cannot give fair notice in his complaint because he isn’t even sure it exists? It means, of course, that you are in the topsy turvey world of ADA standing in the 9th Circuit.
Let’s start with the basics. In Chapman v. Pier 1 Imports, 631 F.3d 939 (9th Cir. en banc 2011) the Court reaffirmed its earlier holding in Doran v. 7-Eleven. Doran held that if a plaintiff had knowledge of at least one architectural barrier and is deterred from visiting a place of public accommodation as a result then he may, in a single suit, challenge all barriers in that public accommodation that are related to his or her specific disability and that he is likely to encounter on future visits. He is not, however, required to have any knowledge of such barriers or even any reason to think such barriers exist beyond his suspicion that where there is one barrier there may be more. More