Arguing that the District Court imposed novel requirements for compliance with the Fair Housing Act’s statute of limitations, CCL filed the opening brief for the City of Los Angeles in its Ninth Circuit appeal of a ruling granting summary judgment to defendant Bank of America. The city’s lawsuit accused the bank of steering minority borrowers to more expensive and riskier loans than it offered other borrowers, resulting in foreclosures, lowered property tax revenues, and expenditures for remediation costs.

The District Court granted the bank’s motion for summary judgment. It reasoned that a predatory loan, foreclosure, and economic injury to the city all had to take place within two years of the lawsuit’s filing. The FHA has a two-year statute of limitations that begins to run only after termination of a discriminatory lending practice. The city asserted that the practice at issue did not terminate until nine months after the lawsuit was filed. As a result, the brief argued, the lawsuit was timely.

The evidence adduced showed riskier and more expensive loans issued within the limitations period, fully meeting the requirements of the statute of limitations. There is no requirement, the brief added, that the foreclosure and the economic injury to the city also take place within that period of time. Because evidence demonstrated that foreclosures typically take about three years from closing of the loan, the District Court’s ruling would effectively immunize discriminatory lending from FHA liability, a consequence plainly at odds with the purposes of the housing statute.

CCL President Robert S. Peck serves as counsel of record for Los Angeles in the case. He was joined on the brief by Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California at Irvine law school, Joel Liberson of Tare Resources, and Elaine Byszewski and Lee Gordon of Hagens Berman. In September, Peck won three decisions from the Eleventh Circuit on behalf of the city of Miami, Florida, where similar lawsuits were filed against Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citibank. Peck is also representing Los Angeles in an appeal of another case against Wells Fargo in the Ninth Circuit.