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Kendra Velzen et al. v. Grand Valley State University (W.D. Mich.)

On March 30, 2012, on behalf of Kendra Velzen and the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed a federal lawsuit against Grand Valley (Michigan) State University ("GVSU") asserting that the University violated Ms. Velzen's rights under federal and state fair housing laws by denying her the right to live with her emotional support animal.

Ms. Velzen, who is a second-year student at GVSU, has relied throughout her life upon the attachment and emotional support she derives from animals as a means of managing the symptoms associated with her emotional disabilities, including depression. In August 2011, as Ms. Velzen prepared to leave her home to live in University housing, her health provider formally prescribed an emotional support animal for her. According to GVSU's written policies, however, students living in University housing are not permitted to have "pets" other than "non-preditory [sic]" fish.

On at least three separate occasions, Ms. Velzen, and the Fair Housing Center on her behalf, requested an accommodation to the University's no-pets policy. Her requests were denied all three times. University officials stated that only individuals with "physical impairments" requiring service animals would be granted reasonable accommodations to live with their "dogs" in University housing. The University maintains a formal ADA policy addressing service animals, but has no written policies for handling requests for accommodations by resident students under the Fair Housing Act.

Neal v. Evolve Bank & Trust (S.D. Miss.)

On April 5, 2012, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed a federal lending discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Carolyn Neal, an African-American resident of Jackson, Mississippi. The suit alleges that Defendants Evolve Bank & Trust and its loan officer, Sally Wood, violated the Fair Housing Act and other federal civil rights statutes by denying Ms. Neal's mortgage application because of her race and/or disability. Neal was fully qualified for the loan.

Neal was quickly approved for a mortgage when she first went to another lender to buy a home for herself and her son. But that lender went bankrupt before the sale, and she then went to Evolve. Evolve dragged out the process for months and then inadvertently sent Neal an internal e-mail written by Wood saying that Wood was going to deny Neal's mortgage application principally because of Neal's disability, as well as for other fabricated reasons. Because of Evolve's discriminatory treatment, Neal went to a third lender, which quickly gave her the mortgage she needed. The third lender told Neal that it receives many applications from qualified African Americans after they are denied by Evolve.

Evolve later sent Neal a letter formally denying her loan, purportedly because of credit problems. Evolve had never before raised any concerns about Neal's credit, nor did the two lenders that approved her mortgage application.

Curry v. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (N.D. Ohio)

On April 12, 2012, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on behalf of Vincent Curry alleging that his former employer, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy ("CVCA"), discriminated against him on the basis of his race.

Mr. Curry is African American and an experienced basketball coach. He was hired by CVCA high school in 2002 as head coach of the junior varsity girls' basketball team. Over the next ten years, his teams were very successful, including posting a 68-12 record over the last four years and Mr. Curry enjoyed tremendous support from his players and their parents.

When the previous girls' varsity coach resigned in April 2011, Mr. Curry was poised to become the first African-American varsity coach in the school's forty-three-year history. Instead, in a decision that reflects a long history of racial intolerance at the nearly all-white school, CVCA refused to promote Mr. Curry to the varsity position and hired a less-qualified white man who had never coached at the school. The school gave no explanation for the decision. When the athletic director called Mr. Curry, he told him that he had not been selected for the varsity position, said "thank you for who you are and what you have done for our girls," and then hung up. The school simultaneously terminated Mr. Curry as the junior varsity coach. This time, they did not even tell him. Mr. Curry found out from his players who called to say that someone else had scheduled a practice.