On May 12, 2005, the Lawyers’ Committee, the Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington and the law firm of Hogan & Hartson filed a complaint against the County of Nassau, New York, the Nassau County Planning Commission, the Nassau County Office of Real Estate & Development, the Incorporated Village of Garden City and the Garden City Board of Trustees in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, on behalf of the New York Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and several individual plaintiffs in ACORN et al. v. Nassau County and the Village of Garden City, CV-05-2301. The complaint was amended on November 30, 2005 and the New York ACORN Housing Co. Inc. (NYAHC), a non-profit affordable housing developer, was added as a plaintiff. The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the federal Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by rejecting a rezoning proposal that would have permitted the development of affordable housing on a twenty-five acre, County-owned property in Garden City that is home to the County’s Social Services Building and passing a zoning proposal that made such development impossible.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, and on July 21, 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph F. Bianco denied this motion. See 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50217 (July 21, 2006). Discovery in the case was extended and involved several disputes. See 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71508 (September 25, 2007), aff’d. 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82405 (September 10, 2009) (legislative privilege); 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20266 (March 14, 2008) (motion to compel); 2009 U.S. Dist. 19459 (March 9, 2009) (sanctions imposed).
On March 31, 2009, each defendant filed a motion for summary judgment and a Daubert motion to exclude the testimony one of the plaintiffs’ experts. Oral argument was held on August 21, 2009. However, before a decision on this motion was entered, Judge Bianco recused himself in March 2010 and was replaced by Senior Judge Arthur Spatt.
In January 2010 ACORN disbanded and NYHAC changed its name to Mhany Management Co. On June 15, 2010 a new plaintiff, the New York Communities for Change, was granted intervention. See 270 F.R.D. 123 (E.D.N.Y. 2010). The complaint in intervention was filed on June 30, 2010 and the case is now styled Mhany Management Co., New York Communities for Change, et al. v. Village of Garden City et al. Further discovery related to the complaint in intervention followed.
On July 29, 2011 each defendant filed a motion for summary judgment and plaintiffs filed their opposition on August 31, 2011. On February 15, 2012, the district court a 101-page decision denying the Garden City Defendants’ motion, discussing in detail facts that created a clear issue of fact that the Village’s zoning decision was intentionally discriminatory and had a disparate impact on minorities in violation of the FHA. The court granted Nassau County’s summary judgment motion despite its acquiescence in the Village’s zoning decision, finding that the authority to make zoning decisions rested solely with the Village, not the County. The court also granted summary judgment for the County on another claim that the County had failed to affirmatively further fair housing in violation of Section 808 of the FHA through, among other things, a long policy of locating affordable housing in minority neighborhoods, thereby exacerbating residential segregation. The court did not reach the merits of that claim, because it held that there is neither an explicit nor implicit private right of action to enforce this provision of the FHA, nor can it be enforced through Section 1983.
Since this decision the plaintiffs and Garden City defendants have been engaged in settlement discussions.
Click here to read the November 2005 amended complaint.
Click here to read the July 2006 order denying the Motion to Dismiss.
Click here to read the June 2009 opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
Click here to read the Plaintiffs’ June 2009 Daubert motion to exclude the testimony of expert witness Patrick Cleary.
Click here to read the June 2009 Plaintiffs’ opposition to the defendants’ motion to exclude the testimony of expert witness Peter Marcuse.
Click here to read Plaintiffs’ August 31 2011 opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
Click here to read the Court’s February 15, 2012 Memorandum Opinion denying Garden City’s Motion for Summary Judgment and granting Nassau County’s Motion for Summary Judgment
Click here to read Plaintiffs’ February, 2006 Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss.