On November 3, 2014, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision granting summary judgment to the plaintiff and vacating the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD) Discriminatory Effects regulation in American Insurance Association v. U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. The case involves a challenge by two insurance industry trade associations to the validity of HUD’s rule, which clarifies the standard for deciding disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Judge Leon, accepting plaintiffs’ argument that the FHA only prohibits intentional discrimination and that the McCarran-Ferguson Act forecloses the application of disparate impact theory to the provision of homeowners’ insurance, held the FHA unambiguously forecloses the possibility of disparate impact claims. The United States appealed Judge Leon’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where it is pending now.
More recently, on June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court in Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project (TDHCA) upheld the viability of disparate impact FHA claims. The Court of Appeals has asked the parties to brief the impact that the TDHCA decision has on this case. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and five other civil rights and housing organizations participated in this case by filing an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on February 10, 2014 in support of the federal government’s motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. The brief contended that the plaintiffs’ claim failed because it was not ripe, the complaint did not allege facts sufficient to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), and the McCarran-Ferguson Act’s reverse preemption provisions only applied in more specific factual circumstances.
Click here to read the Lawyers’ Committee’s brief in American Insurance Association v. U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
Click here to read Judge Leon’s decision on the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment.