Relman, Dane & Colfax has represented both individuals and organizations in the area of lending discrimination. Our attorneys have litigated cases involving redlining of minority communities and the targeting of individuals and communities for predatory mortgage and automobile loans because of race or ethnicity. We have also represented cities and fair housing organizations that have challenged mortgage lending policies that discriminate against minority communities. The policies we have challenged include mortgage lenders targeting minority communities for predatory loans and causing high rates of foreclosures and refusing to make loans secured by properties located on Indian reservations, properties used as group homes for persons with disabilities, and row houses or lower-value housing that are located in predominately minority communities. The Firm has also brought cases on behalf of individuals based upon consumer protection statutes.
Relman, Dane & Colfax Files Amicus Brief In Support of Local Effort to Use Eminent Domain to Prevent Foreclosures
One of the most hotly debated housing policy issues in the country is Richmond, California’s proposed use of eminent domain to stem the continuing tide of foreclosures. Earlier this week Relman, Dane & Colfax filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging the mortgage securitization industry’s threat to redline Richmond and any other city that uses eminent domain for this purpose. To read more and review the Memorandum of Amici Curiae click here.
Morgan v. Richmond School of Health and Technology, Inc.
On August 3, 2011, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed an amended class action complaint against Richmond School of Health and Technology, Inc. ("RSHT"), a for-profit vocational college in Chester and Richmond, Virginia. The amended complaint alleges that RSHT uses deceptive practices to encourage students to take out large federal student loans for an education that it knows is inadequate, and that RSHT engages in "reverse redlining" by targeting African Americans and residents of low-income neighborhoods for enrollment. As a result of these practices, students graduate from RSHT saddled with large debts but without improved employment opportunities and will have impaired credit if they default. To read more about the case, click here.
Memphis v. Wells Fargo and Baltimore v. Wells Fargo: Discriminatory Lending
Wells Fargo's discriminatory lending practices have resulted in extraordinarily high rates of foreclosure in minority neighborhoods in Baltimore, Memphis, and Shelby County, Tennessee. These foreclosures cause the Cities and County to lose property tax revenues and to spend additional funds for critical municipal services as foreclosed homes become vacant and deteriorate. Relman, Dane and Colfax represents these local governments in landmark fair lending suits against Wells Fargo under the Fair Housing Act in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. For more information about the Baltimore case and a copy of the Second Amended Complaint, click here. For more information about the Memphis and Shelby County case and a copy of the First Amended Complaint, click here.
National Community Reinvestment Coalition Mortgage Lending Discrimination Cases
Relman, Dane & Colfax settled a series of cases filed in federal court or with the Department of Housing and Development by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition ("NCRC") challenging discriminatory mortgage underwriting guidelines. The NCRC is a national non-profit organization with the mission of increasing fair and equal access to credit and banking services. In NCRC v. NovaStar Mortgage, Inc. (D.D.C.) and NCRC v. Aegis Mortgage (HUD), the NCRC alleged that the mortgage companies, their parent corporations, and affiliates violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to originate or securitize loans secured by properties on Indian reservations, group homes or row houses. Both NovaStar Mortgage and Aegis Mortgage also published and maintained written underwriting guidelines restricting these same three types of properties as collateral for a loan. These practices and written policies discriminated against and had a disparate impact on Native Americans, other minorities, and persons with disabilities. In NCRC v. Taylor, Bean & Whitaker (HUD), the NCRC alleged that the mortgage lender refused to originate or securitize loans secured on Indian reservations.
In the three settlements, the mortgage lenders and their affiliates agreed to discontinue the discriminatory policies, implement training programs to ensure their practices are compliant with the Fair Housing Act and compensate the NCRC for the diversion of its resources and the frustration of its mission caused by the discriminatory practices. Altogether the three mortgage companies paid more than $1 million to resolve the claims.
In NCRC v. NovaStar Mortgage, the District Court granted the NCRC's motion to amend to add as a defendant NovaStar Mortgage's president, W. Lance Anderson, finding that the NCRC could bring a claim against Anderson personally for his role in implementing and maintaining the discriminatory policies. The court subsequently denied Anderson's motion to dismiss. The order granting the motion to amend is available here.