Removing Barriers Blog

CUNA and Joint Trades File Amicus Brief on Fair Housing case
Posted April 04, 2016 by CUNA Advocacy

Today, CUNA along with various other trade associations, filed an Amici Curiae brief supporting a petition for certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to review an Eleventh Circuit decision that raises important questions about the scope of the Fair Housing Act.  This results of this case could have significant impacts on credit unions.  The issue at hand is whether and when third parties, who do not claim direct discrimination by financial institutions, can sue under the Fair Housing Act.   

The case, styled the City of Miami v. Bank of America and City of Miami v. Wells Fargo, involves the City of Miami which sued Bank of America and Wells Fargo under the Fair Housing Act, claiming that discrimination by the banks against city residents entitles the City to damages for indirect harm.  The City is arguing that the foreclosures and other events stemming from unfavorable mortgages resulted in lost revenue from lower property taxes. The City also incurred expenses from services it had to provide to foreclosed properties.  The City is alleging these damages even though several years have passed since the alleged bank violations.  

The Eleventh Circuit held that third parties like Miami were allowed to sue under the FHA, even if they never directly faced discrimination their alleged injuries occurred years later.    

This decision could potentially open the door for other entities (ex: neighboring residents, municipalities, or even local businesses) to maintain suits against financial institutions, even if the entity never had any direct dealings with a bank or credit union.   

Our Amicus brief today urges the Supreme Court to reverse the decision of the 11th Circuit, based on recent rulings from the Supreme Court itself, a lack of standing, and the unnecessary expansion of potential liability without any limiting factor.