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City of Miami Battles Against Discriminatory Lending Practices

On Monday, May 1, 2017, the United States Supreme Court upheld the City of Miami’s standing to sue Bank of America and Wells Fargo under the Fair Housing Act for the issuance of discriminatory mortgages.  It was a big victory in the fight against discriminatory lending practices.  HH&K attorney, Robert S. Peck, represented the City of Miami.

Background

In 2013, the City of Miami filed suit against Bank of America and Wells Fargo, alleging violations of the 1968 Fair Housing Act which prohibits racial discrimination in connection with the rental, financing and sale of housing. The City’s complaints charge that the banks intentionally targeted African-American and Latino neighborhoods and residents, gave loans to minority borrowers on worse terms than equally creditworthy nonminority borrowers, and induced defaults by failing to extend refinancing and loan modifications to minority borrowers on fair terms.   This resulted in foreclosures and vacancies in minority neighborhoods, impaired the City’s effort to assure racial integration, diminished the City’s property-tax revenue, and increased demand for police, fire, and other municipal services.

When the case went before the US District Court, it was dismissed on the grounds that (1) the harms alleged fell outside the zone of interests the FHA protects and (2) the complaints failed to show a sufficient causal connection between the City’s injuries and the Banks’ discriminatory conduct. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and reinstated the case.

Next Steps

In its ruling, the Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the Court of Appeals, and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.



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