Federal Judge Grants Motion for Summary Judgment in Housing Discrimination Case Against St. Bernard Parish
Posted on 19. Oct, 2012 by Sophie Rosen
On October 17, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana granted a motion for summary judgment filed by Plaintiffs Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and Provident Realty Advisors, in a long running housing discrimination case against St. Bernard Parish. The decision signals that the Plaintiffs won the case on the merits, and that there is no need to go to trial. Further, the court’s order grants Plaintiffs’ latest motion to hold St. Bernard Parish in contempt of court and awards Plaintiffs reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
The most recent ruling came in response to a motion for summary judgment in the case filed by GNOFHAC and Provident Realty Advisors in July of this year. According to the motion, “the conduct at issue in the relevant time period involved issuing repeated cease and desist orders, withholding the release of critical municipal services, refusing to provide feedback and information on construction specifications, refusing to issue renewed building permits, and delaying construction by seeking to enforce inapplicable codes.” The conduct took place throughout 2011.
Also on October 17, 2012, the court adopted a Magistrate Judge’s recommendation to award plaintiffs GNOFHAC and Provident Realty Advisors over $500,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs in relation to three contempt rulings issued against St. Bernard Parish in 2011. The motions covered behavior that the Parish engaged in throughout the course of 2011 aimed at preventing the development of mixed income multi-family housing in St. Bernard.
St. Bernard Parish’s repeated actions to delay construction on Provident Realty Advisors’ four multi-family housing developments in St. Bernard Parish at issue in the summary judgment motion were a continuation of a long string of race-based attempts to block multi-family housing developments in the Parish. Racial discrimination has been a clear and consistent theme throughout the course of GNOFHAC’s multi-year litigation against St. Bernard Parish, during which the Parish has repeatedly been held in contempt for violating a 2008 Consent Order.
GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry comments, “After years of protracted litigation, we were pleased to have witnessed new homes coming on line in St. Bernard Parish through the opening of the Provident apartments. This week’s orders from the court signal that the Parish will be held responsible for its illegal, discriminatory actions. Meanwhile, we remain committed to ensuring equal housing opportunity throughout our region.”
Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC represented GNOFHAC in these matters.
Click here for a copy of GNOFHAC’s motion for summary judgment described in this release.
Click here for Judge Helen Berrigan’s order granting the motion for summary judgment.
Click here for Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan’s Report and Recommendations regarding attorneys’ fees and costs.
Click here for Judge Berrigan’s order adopting Judge Shushan’s Recommendations regarding attorneys’ fees and costs
Click here for a comprehensive timeline of GNOFHAC’s St. Bernard Parish litigation