Stacie B. Royster
Washington, D.C.-The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law applauds today’s unanimous decision entered on November 13 by the United States Court of Appeals for Seventh Circuit, sitting en banc, in the case of Bloch v. Frischholz. “This case is extremely important in maintaining coverage of the Fair Housing Act over discrimination occurring after the sale of home or rental of an apartment,” said Joe Rich, director, Fair Housing Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Until 2004, there had been over 35 years of court decisions holding that under the Fair Housing Act, discrimination occurring after a person acquires a home or rents an apartment is prohibited. But in the 2004 Seventh Circuit case, Halprin v. Prairie Single Family Homes of Dearborn Park Association, 388 F.3d 327 (7th Cir. 2004), ), these decisions were ignored and the court drastically narrowed the Fair Housing Act to cover only discrimination during the sale or rental of a dwelling, but not any discrimination that occurred after such sale or rental.
In the Bloch case, the Seventh Circuit again took this issue up in order that the full court could consider this important question. This time, after the full court carefully reviewed the Fair Housing Act and its prior opinion in Halprin, and concluded unanimously in an 8-0 opinion that homeowners have a claim under the Fair Housing Act for discrimination that occurred after the plaintiffs had moved into the dwelling they had purchased. Based on its experience in litigating Fair Housing Act cases, the Lawyers’ Committee, along with its affiliates in Chicago, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Mississippi, and the National Fair Housing Alliance submitted an amicus or “friend of the court” brief with the court in support of the plaintiffs strongly urging the en banc Court to reverse the panel decision holding concerning post-acquisition discrimination and remand the case to the district court.
“Because many courts have followed the Halprin court’s line of reasoning after 2004, this decision is a great step forward in restoring the full coverage of the Fair Housing Act that existed before the Halprindecision,” said Mr. Rich.