University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Wilson v. Seattle Housing Authority PH-WA-0001
Docket / Court 2:09-cv-00226 ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Public Housing
Attorney Organization Columbia Legal Services (formerly Evergreen)
Case Summary
A Seattle resident who had been terminated from the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program brought this class action suit on 02/20/2009, alleging that the administration of the Program in Seattle discriminated against residents with disabilities. The named defendants were the Seattle Housing ... read more >
A Seattle resident who had been terminated from the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program brought this class action suit on 02/20/2009, alleging that the administration of the Program in Seattle discriminated against residents with disabilities. The named defendants were the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) and the Executive Director of SHA in his official capacity. Colombia Legal Services represented the plaintiff, and the case was assigned to Judge Marsha J. Pechman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The Fourth Amended Complaint alleged that SHA’s Section 8 voucher termination process prior to August 1, 2008 did not meet constitutional standards; SHA discriminated against voucher holders with disabilities by failing to provide them with reasonable accommodations; and SHA discriminated against voucher holders by not permitting them to live with closely related family members. The plaintiff filed the lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.), and a collection of state and federal anti-discrimination statutes and their accompanying regulations. They also alleged that the defendants' conduct violated the Fourteenth Amendment's and Washington State Constitution's Due Process Clauses.

The plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction on March 25, 2010, requesting that her Title 8 voucher be reinstated. On May 13, 2010, after five additional filings from the parties and oral argument, Judge Pechman denied the motion (2010 WL 1945740). She found that it was not clear that the plaintiff was likely to prevail on the merits, making preliminary relief inappropriate.

Over the course of the litigation, Judge Pechman ruled in favor of the plaintiff on three issues. First, on April 22, 2010, she denied defendants' motion to dismiss (2010 WL 1945740). Second, on February 3, 2011, she granted the plaintiff's motion for discovery sanctions (2011 WL 338793). Finally, on April 21, 2011, she granted the plaintiff's motion for a protective order (2011 WL 1561791). She also ruled in favor of the defendants once. The initial complaint had included claims against the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but the court granted summary judgment for the Department on March 29, 2011 (2011 WL 1213168).

The parties filed a joint motion for a class action settlement on September 8, 2011. The settlement class included all 82 SHA Section 8 voucher holders who had a termination hearing on or after February 20, 2006 and before August 1, 2008, and whose Section 8 vouchers were terminated as a result of the hearing. The settlement had five main terms:

1) the SHA agreed to make substantive changes and clarifications in its policy regarding individuals with disabilities,
2) the SHA agreed to amend the list of documents it will accept as proof that a household is a primary residence of a minor,
3) the SHA agreed to amend its Administrative Plan to provide for discretionary extension of the time individuals may be allowed to remain in a subsidized residence,
4) addition of requirements that SHA hearing officers include written notice of the availability of judicial review in the termination of Section 8 vouchers, and
5) the SHA agreed to provide a new termination hearing to each class member who requests one.

In addition to institutional reforms, the settlement awarded $15,000 in relief to named plaintiffs and $180,000 in attorney's fees.

Judge Pechman issued her final order and judgement granting approval of the class action settlement on January 10, 2012. As part of the settlement, the court dismissed the plaintiff's claims with prejudice while retaining jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement. The Clearinghouse does not know if the court continues to enforce the settlement, but there has been no docket activity since the parties filed a redacted status report on March 11, 2013.

Alex Moody - 03/04/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Reasonable Accommodation
Defendant-type
Housing Authority
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-area
Housing Sales/Rental
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Family discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Government Services (specify)
Housing
Housing assistance
Poverty/homelessness
Public assistance grants
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
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.
Defendant(s) Seattle Housing Authority
Plaintiff Description The class includes all Seattle Housing Administration Section 8 voucher holders who had termination hearings on or after February 20, 2006 and before August 1, 2008 and whose Section 8 vouchers were terminated as a result of such hearings. There are 82 people in the class.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Columbia Legal Services (formerly Evergreen)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2012 - n/a
Filed 02/20/2009
Case Ongoing Perhaps, but long-dormant
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Urban Institute Baseline Assessment of Public Housing Desegregation Cases
Date: 2000
By: George Galster et al. (Urban Institute, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Faculty)
Citation: (2000)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Court Docket(s)
W.D. Wash.
03/11/2013
2:09-cv-00226-MJP
PH-WA-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
W.D. Wash.
02/20/2009
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
PH-WA-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
01/05/2011
Plaintiffs' Fourth Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Monetary Damages [ECF# 111]
PH-WA-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
09/08/2011
Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Proposed Class Action Settlement [ECF# 211]
PH-WA-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
01/10/2012
Final Order and Judgment Granting Approval of Class Action Settlement [ECF# 225]
PH-WA-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Pechman, Marsha J. (W.D. Wash.) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-0004 | PH-WA-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ehman, Merf E. (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-0002 | PH-WA-0001-0003 | PH-WA-0001-9000
Engrav, Rebecca S. (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-0003 | PH-WA-0001-9000
Simpkins, Holly Marie (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-0003 | PH-WA-0001-9000
Spear, Ryan M (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-9000
Straley, Nicholas Broten (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-0001 | PH-WA-0001-0002 | PH-WA-0001-0003 | PH-WA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barbara, Scott M (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-0002 | PH-WA-0001-9000
Dorrity, Kristen (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-0003 | PH-WA-0001-9000
Fearn, James Ernest Jr. (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-0002 | PH-WA-0001-0003 | PH-WA-0001-9000
Johnson, Kristin Berger (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-9000
Kirschner, Adam D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-0002 | PH-WA-0001-9000
Means, Donald S (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-9000
Young, Laura Hawes (Washington) show/hide docs
PH-WA-0001-0003 | PH-WA-0001-9000

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