On May 8, 2002, the Lawyers’ Committee, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the Boston Bar Association and the law firm of Skadden Arps filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction against the Town of Huntington, New York, the Town Board of the Town of Huntington, the Town of Huntington Planning Board, and S.B.J. Associates, L.L.C., in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of the Fair Housing in Huntington Committee and three individual plaintiffs in the case of Fair Housing in Huntington Committee, et al. v. Town of Huntington, CV-02-2787. The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the federal Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by approving a plan to use the last remaining large undeveloped residential parcel in a white area of the highly segregated and predominantly white town of Huntington for a development known as the Greens, a project which consisted of 1,300 multi-family units restricted to senior citizens and 75 luxury four and five bedroom single-family homes. None of non-senior housing was affordable.
The District Court denied the plaintiffs motion for a preliminary injunction in June 2002, and the plaintiffs appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Court of Appeals affirmed both the District Court’s finding that plaintiffs had standing and its denial of the motion for a preliminary injunction in a decision issued on January 17, 2003. See 316 F.3d 357 (2nd Cir. 2003).
On April 8, 2004, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint against the defendants which, in addition to the claim concerning the Greens project, alleged that the Town further discriminated on the basis of race, national origin and familial status by requiring that a related project known as Ruland Road, an 122 unit project, when it approved this project in November 2000 and limited it to one bedroom units only even though the initial 1999 proposal for the project had proposed that it consist of two and three bedroom units. In addition, the Huntington Branch of the NAACP was added as a plaintiff in this complaint. On November 29, 2005, District Court Judge Denis R. Hurley issued an order denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ amended complaint.
Thereafter, the case moved very slowly in part because Town reneged on a settlement which had been reached in 2007. However, when on March 10, 2010 the Town approved a site plan for one-bedroom units located on Ruland Road, activity in the case increased. Plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction on March 22, 2010, seeking an order from the Court preliminarily enjoining the Town from issuing any building permits or otherwise proceeding with the project. On July 9, 2010, the district court granted a motion to dismiss which had been filed in 2006 by defendants on statute of limitations grounds, thus mooting the motion for preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs then filed a second motion to amend the complaint on August 11, 2010 adding allegations that the Town’s 2010 approval of the one bedroom plan furthered the initial discriminatory 2000 restriction.
On November 18, 2010 the district court denied the motion to amend the complaint. While finding that the allegations of actions taken by the Town in 2008 and 2010 were timely and could form the basis of an independent action, the court determined that the new allegations were not sufficiently related to allegations in the original 2002 complaint in this case to merit amending this complaint.
The Lawyers’ Committee with its pro bono co-counsel, Skadden Arps, then filed a new complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on March 17, 2011, repeating the allegations in its proposed 2010 amended complaint. Fair Housing in Huntington Committee, et al. v. Town of Huntington, et al., CV 11-1298. New discovery was completed in this case in 2012 and on August 7, 2012 plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the undisputed evidence demonstrates that the Town’s action, in restricting the Ruland Road project to one bedroom units discriminated on the basis of familial status in violation of Section 804(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3604(a), under both discriminatory intent and discriminatory impact standards.
In addition to the ongoing litigation in federal court, the Lawyers’ Committee also filed an administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on March 3, which focused on the Town’s long history of housing discrimination and its failure to affirmatively further fair housing as required by Section 808 of the Fair Housing Act. That complaint is being investigated by HUD.
Click here to read the May 2002 complaint.
Click here to read the January 2003 Second Circuit Decision.
Click here to read the April 2004 amended complaint.
Click here to read the November 2005 order.
Click here to read the March 3, 2011 Administrative Complaint to HUD.
Click here to read the March 17, 2011 Complaint.
Click here to read the Memorandum of Law in Support of the August 7, 2012 Motion for Summary Judgment