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Case Name Oakland v. Wells Fargo FH-CA-0028
Docket / Court 3:15-cv-04321-EMC ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance
Case Summary
On September 21, 2015, the City of Oakland filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Wells Fargo & Co and Wells Fargo Bank NA under the Fair Housing Act, California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and California Government Code. The ... read more >
On September 21, 2015, the City of Oakland filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Wells Fargo & Co and Wells Fargo Bank NA under the Fair Housing Act, California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and California Government Code. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants had engaged in predatory mortgage strategies that disproportionately targeted minority communities. Specifically, they alleged that the defendants had engaged in redlining and reverse redlining, causing a disproportionate number of foreclosures in minority communities and, as a result, reducing tax revenue for the City of Oakland, increasing municipal expenditures, and neutralizing the effectiveness of city fair-housing programs. Represented by the Oakland City Attorney’s office, the Center for Constitutional Litigation, and private counsel, the plaintiffs sought declaratory, injunctive, and compensatory relief as well as punitive damages and attorneys' fees. The case was assigned to Judge Edward M. Chen.

On November 13, 2015, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the predatory sub-prime loans that the plaintiffs referred to had ceased in 2008, placing their conduct outside the two year limitation period in the Fair Housing Act. The Court directed Oakland “to amend its complaint in view of the language now in Miami and give it your best shot with as much specificity as possible in terms of the kinds of damages that you are asserting that you contend are proximately caused by the [] alleged FHA violation.”

On August 15, 2017, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint claiming that Wells Fargo’s predatory activity had continued through the time of filing and therefore was within the limitations of the Fair Housing Act.

On October 6, 2017, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the first amended complaint, stating the plaintiffs had failed to properly show that the defendants had been the proximate cause of the injuries they alleged. On June 15, 2018, Judge Chen denied the defendants' motion to dismiss as to the claim related to reduced tax revenue and also denied the motion to dismiss as to the municipal expenditures, insofar as Oakland sought declaratory or injunctive relief. The third claim—neutralization of the city’s fair-housing program—was dismissed without prejudice.

On February 28, 2019, the defendants filed an interlocutory appeal (USCA No. 19−15169). On August 27, 2020, a three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. The panel affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motion to dismiss claims related to reduced tax revenue. The panel also affirmed the grant of defendants' motion to dismiss damage claims from increased municipal expenses. Finally, the panel reversed the denial of defendants' motion to dismiss injunctive and declaratory relief claims. Contrary to the district court's ruling, the panel held that the proximate cause directness requirement also applied to claims for injunctive and declaratory relief, not just claims for damages. The case was remanded for the district court to consider the plausibility of this claim, given that the City needed to satisfy the proximate cause directness requirement.

Following the grant of a petition to rehear the case en banc, on September 28, 2021, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. Similar to the three-judge panel, the court affirmed the dismissal of the damages claim for increased municipal expenditures. The court also affirmed the dismissal of the claims for injunctive and declaratory relief.
However, the court reversed the denial of dismissal for claims of damages from reduced tax revenue. The en banc court held that, to meet the standard for proximate cause, there must be sufficient directness from the alleged action to the alleged harm. Such directness stems from the first link in the causal chain. Downstream "ripples of harm" from defendants' actions traveled too far beyond the alleged misconduct to establish proximate cause. As a result, the City had not sufficiently plead its claim, and the case was remanded to the district court for dismissal consistent with this opinion. Costs were awarded to Wells Fargo.

Carter Powers Beggs - 10/17/2019
Jordan Schuler - 10/18/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Bank or credit provider
Discrimination-area
Housing Sales/Rental
Lending
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Housing
Pattern or Practice
Predatory lending
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
Race
Race, unspecified
Causes of Action Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
State law
Defendant(s) Wells Fargo & Company
Wells Fargo Bank N.A.
Plaintiff Description City of Oakland, CA
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 09/21/2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  The Origins of Fair Lending Litigation
Date: Dec. 4, 2008
By: Andrew Nash (Washington University in St. Louis Law Student)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  City of Oakland v. Wells Fargo Bank
Cohen Milstein
By: Cohen Milstein
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Cal.
09/28/2021
3:15-cv-4321
FH-CA-0028-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Cal.
09/21/2015
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FH-CA-0028-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
08/15/2017
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 104]
FH-CA-0028-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
06/15/2018
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 147]
FH-CA-0028-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
09/05/2018
Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Amend Order to Include Certification for Interlocutory Appeal [ECF# 165]
FH-CA-0028-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
08/26/2020
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 73] (972 F.3d 1112)
FH-CA-0028-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
04/20/2021
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 88] (993 F.3d 1077)
FH-CA-0028-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
09/28/2021
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 120] (14 F.4th 1030)
FH-CA-0028-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | External Link | Detail
Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
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Judges Bade, Bridget Shelton (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0007
Callahan, Consuelo Maria (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0007
Chen, Edward Milton (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0003 | FH-CA-0028-0004 | FH-CA-0028-9000
Cole, Ransey Guy Jr. (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0005
Gould, Ronald Murray (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0005
Hurwitz, Andrew David (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0007
Ikuta, Sandra Segal (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0007
McKeown, M. Margaret (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0007
Murguia, Mary Helen (D. Ariz., Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0005
Nelson, Ryan Douglas (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0007
Nguyen, Jacqueline Hong-Ngoc (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0007
Paez, Richard A. (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0007
Spero, Joseph C. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Thomas, Sidney Runyan (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0006 | FH-CA-0028-0007
VanDyke, Lawrence James Christopher (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0007
Wardlaw, Kim McLane (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0007
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bee, Maria (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Kim, Sumy (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Liberson, Joel Keith (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0001 | FH-CA-0028-0002 | FH-CA-0028-9000
Parker, Barbara J (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0001 | FH-CA-0028-0002 | FH-CA-0028-9000
Peck, Robert S (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0001 | FH-CA-0028-0002 | FH-CA-0028-9000
Peretz, Yosef (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-0001 | FH-CA-0028-0002 | FH-CA-0028-9000
Sellers, Joseph Marc (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cachan, Manuel Francisco (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Casazza, Kyle Alexander (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Collins, Daniel Paul (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Hancock, Paul F. (Florida) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Katyal, Neal Kumar (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Kim, Miriam (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Patashnik, Joshua (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Pierce, Rio S. (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Roche, Jennifer Lynn (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Sanchez, Terry Edward (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Sangster, Edward P (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Williams, Bart H. (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Other Lawyers Brancart, Christopher (California) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Corman, Brian Christopher (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Rich, Joseph D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Silverstein, Thomas S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000
Williams, Morgan Whitney (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-CA-0028-9000

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