Case: United States v. Housing Authority of New Orleans

2:22-cv-03568 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

Filed Date: Sept. 30, 2022

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This lawsuit is about discrimination against individuals with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division filed suit against the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) and seven private developers in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on September 30, 2022. The complaint alleged that following Hurricane Katrina, the Housing Authority of New Orleans initiated a redevelo…

This lawsuit is about discrimination against individuals with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division filed suit against the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) and seven private developers in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on September 30, 2022.

The complaint alleged that following Hurricane Katrina, the Housing Authority of New Orleans initiated a redevelopment program to modernize and replace public housing developments. The Housing Authority and seven private developers designed and constructed eight developments, all multifamily dwellings, relatively quickly. Seven of the eight properties at issue in the complaint were a part of redevelopment effort, and were developed using federal funds administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The DOJ alleged that the developments violated the Fair Housing Act, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design and sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages, and civil penalties. The case was assigned to Judge Lance M. Alfrick and Magistrate Judge Donna Phillips Currault.

According to the complaint, the properties had a number of inaccessible features that did not meet the requirements of the FHA , including:

  • public and common use areas not readily accessible to or usable by persons with disabilities;
  • doorways insufficiently wide to allow passage by persons in wheelchairs;
  • abrupt level changes not suitable for wheelchairs or walkers;
  • outlets, light switches, and thermostats inaccessible to persons in wheelchairs;
  • a lack of supportive infrastructure for the safe installation of grab-bars or other needed modifications.

Combined, the DOJ alleged that these design and construction failures amounted to "a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the FHA" and a denial to a group of persons of rights guaranteed by the FHA.

The DOJ also alleged that the design and construction of the leasing offices and their associated parking lots and restrooms at five of the properties violated the ADA. Per the complaint, the inaccessible features at the five properties included:

  • inaccessible routes into the leasing offices due to slopes, steps, circuitous routes, abrupt level changes, difficult-to-open doors, and other features;
  • accessibility barriers within the leasing offices, including high reception desks, objects out of reach of persons using wheelchairs, water fountains without accessibility features, protruding objects posing hards to visually impaired persons, and other features;
  • public restrooms with barriers severely impacting the ability of wheelchair users to use the facilities; and
  • inadequate or no designated accessible parking.

On October 3, 2022, the DOJ announced they had reached a proposed consent judgment pending approval by the court and on October 5, 2022, Judge Africk entered the parties' proposed consent order. Under the terms of the consent order, the defendants were enjoined from discriminating on the basis of disability and required to (1) contract qualified surveyors approved by the United States to conduct on-site surveys of the properties to identify any further violations; (2)  retrofit the properties to address the accessibility issues identified by the DOJ and any further violations identified by on-site surveyors; (3) minimize inconvenience to impacted residents and provide alternate accommodations if necessary, including payment of the applicable government per diem rates for food and/or lodging; (4) provide written notice to all residents of retrofits to be perform on public or common use areas; and (5) contract neutral inspectors approved by the United States to inspect all retrofits. The defendants were also prohibited from raising rent prices because of the cost of retrofitting. The defendants further agreed to educate all of their involved staff and contractors regarding the order and post notice of their non-discrimination policy. The defendants were ordered to create a $200,000 settlement fund for affected residents and pay a $50,000 civil penalty.

The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement for five years following the date of filing.

Summary Authors

Sandy Sulzer (10/18/2022)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document
1

2:22-cv-03568

Complaint

Sept. 30, 2022

Sept. 30, 2022

Complaint
5

2:22-cv-03568

Consent Order

Oct. 6, 2022

Oct. 6, 2022

Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/65391240/united-states-v-housing-authority-of-new-orleans/

Last updated Dec. 24, 2022, 3:08 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against All Defendants (Filed on behalf of USA - Filing Fee not required) filed by United States of America. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)Attorney Aurora Rose Bryant added to party United States of America(pty:pla).(Bryant, Aurora) (Entered: 09/30/2022)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

Sept. 30, 2022

Sept. 30, 2022

Clearinghouse
2

Initial Case Assignment to Judge Lance M Africk and Magistrate Judge Donna Phillips Currault. (go) (Entered: 09/30/2022)

Sept. 30, 2022

Sept. 30, 2022

PACER
3

EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION to Approve and Enter Proposed Consent Judgment by United States of America. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order Parties' Fully Executed Consent Order, # 2 Appendix A to Consent Order - Defendants' Property Associations, # 3 Appendix B to Consent Order - Bienville Basin Retrofit Plan, # 4 Appendix C to Consent Order - Columbia Parc Retrofit Plan, # 5 Appendix C.1 to Consent Order - Columbia Parc Routes, # 6 Appendix D to Consent Order - Faubourg Lafitte Non-Senior Retrofit Plan, # 7 Appendix E to Consent Order - Faubourg Lafitte Senior Retrofit Plan, # 8 Appendix F to Consent Order - Fischer Senior Retrofit Plan, # 9 Appendix G to Consent Order - Guste Retrofit Plan, # 10 Appendix H to Consent Order - Harmony Oaks Retrofit Plan, # 11 Appendix H.1 to Consent Order - Harmony Oaks Routes, # 12 Appendix I to Consent Order - Marrero Commons Retrofit Plan, # 13 Appendix I.1 to Consent Order - Marrero Commons Routes, # 14 Appendix J to Consent Order - River Garden I Retrofit Plan, # 15 Appendix K to Consent Order - River Garden II Retrofit Plan, # 16 Appendix L to Consent Order - Notice to Tenants, # 17 Appendix M to Consent Order - Survey Protocol, # 18 Appendix N to Consent Order - Property Survey Report Protocol, # 19 Appendix O to Consent Order - Notice of Retrofits, # 20 Appendix P to Consent Order - Notice to Potential Victims, # 21 Appendix Q to Consent Order - List of Organizations, # 22 Appendix R to Consent Order - Release, # 23 Appendix S to Consent Order - Acknowledgement of Receipt, # 24 Appendix T to Consent Order - Certification of Training)(Bryant, Aurora) Modified on 10/3/2022 (ko). (Entered: 09/30/2022)

Sept. 30, 2022

Sept. 30, 2022

PACER

Initial Case Assignment

Sept. 30, 2022

Sept. 30, 2022

PACER
4

EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION to Enroll as Counsel of Record by McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)Attorney Jerry Anthony Beatmann, Jr added to party McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc.(pty:dft).(Beatmann, Jerry) Modified text on 10/5/2022 (ko). (Entered: 10/04/2022)

Oct. 4, 2022

Oct. 4, 2022

PACER
5

ORDER granting 3 Motion to Approve Consent Judgment. Signed by Judge Lance M Africk on 10/05/2022. (ko) (Entered: 10/06/2022)

Oct. 6, 2022

Oct. 6, 2022

PACER
6

ORDER granting 4 Motion to Enroll as Counsel of Record for Attorney Jerry Anthony Beatmann, Jr for McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc. Signed by Judge Lance M Africk on 10/05/2022. (ko) (Entered: 10/06/2022)

Oct. 6, 2022

Oct. 6, 2022

PACER
7

ORDER re 5 Consent Order; ORDERED that the matter is ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSED. The Court retains jurisdiction to enforce the order. Signed by Judge Lance M Africk on 11/16/2022.(blg) (Entered: 11/16/2022)

Nov. 16, 2022

Nov. 16, 2022

PACER

Case Details

State / Territory: Louisiana

Case Type(s):

Disability Rights

Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance

Key Dates

Filing Date: Sept. 30, 2022

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiffs are residents of New Orleans housing developments that lack accessible units or accessible public spaces or entrances.

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

City of New Orleans (New Orleans, Orleans), City

Defendant Type(s):

Housing Authority

Multi-family housing provider

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.

Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Attorneys fees

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: 250,000

Order Duration: 2022 - 2027

Content of Injunction:

Retaliation Prohibition

Provide antidiscrimination training

Issues

General:

Buildings

Housing

Parking

Reasonable Modifications

Sidewalks

Discrimination-basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Disability:

disability, unspecified

Mobility impairment

Type of Facility:

Non-government for-profit