On January 7, 2021, Relman Colfax and co-counsel the National Student Legal Defense Network filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against Walden University. Walden University is a for-profit university that solely offers online degree programs, including 20 different doctoral programs. This lawsuit, brought under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”), alleges that Walden University engaged in “reverse redlining” by intentionally targeting Black and female students for what appears to be a cost- and time-effective online degree program, but ultimately amounts to an expensive predatory scheme.
In this Fair Housing Act lawsuit against a Virginia landlord, which challenged a racially discriminatory policy of rejecting all applicants with criminal backgrounds, the defendant agreed to adopt a new policy to ensure equal access to its properties.
In a significant victory in the fight for fair lending, we secured a major jury verdict against New York-based Emigrant Savings Bank and Emigrant Mortgage Company for discriminatory mortgage lending. The June 2016 liability verdict was both the first case in which a jury held a bank accountable for lending practices that contributed to the country’s 2008 financial collapse, and the first reverse redlining case ever to be tried in federal court.
Relman Colfax filed suit against the City of Peoria, alleging that the City intentionally targeted enforcement of its “chronic nuisance ordinance” in predominantly African-American neighborhoods and against buildings with predominantly African-American tenants, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. On August 31, 2020, HOPE settled its claims. Pursuant to the settlement, the City amended the ordinance and police department policies to ensure nondiscriminatory enforcement of the Ordinance and to protect tenant rights.
In 2015, Gilead purchased a single-family property in Cromwell that it intended to use as a group home for six men with disabilities. While such a home is permitted by-right under state law in any residential neighborhood, Defendants responded to community opposition by using the full weight of their authority to force Gilead to close down the home. In December 2019, a federal court issued a landmark ruling permitting Plaintiff Gilead Community Services’ disability discrimination claims to proceed to trial against the Town of Cromwell, Connecticut and held that Plaintiffs could pursue their punitive damages claims against the Town. In October 2021, a federal jury awarded nearly $5.2 million in damages against the Town of Cromwell, Connecticut for discriminatory actions
- Fair Housing Rights Center in Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Morgan Properties Management Company, LLC
Relman Colfax obtained the first federal court decision holding that a landlord can violate the Fair Housing Act by maintaining a policy of refusing to consider the reasonable accommodation requests of disabled tenants or prospective tenants who seek to alter their rent due dates to correspond with the receipt of their disability benefits, resulting in a settlement including a policy change and damages.
In this Fair Housing Act case challenging an Ohio landlord's discrimination against tenants based on race and familial status, Relman Colfax obtained a consent order in 2014 requiring that the landlord hire a professional management company to operate his apartment complexes and an $850,000 settlement.
In 2013, in the first reverse redlining case filed against a for-profit school in the country for engaging in deceptive practices to encourage low-income African-American students to take out large federal student loans for an education that the school knew was inadequate, the firm obtained a $5 million settlement for a class of over 4,000 members.
Jury verdict of $1 million in favor of families evicted from housing complex in Pahokee Florida because landlord sought to remove all children from the complex.
In this race discrimination case against a hotel, the court denied summary judgment and determined that a franchisor may be held liable under a theory of apparent agency in Section 1981 public accommodations cases.
S. Dane, T. Ramchandani, and A. Bellows, Discriminatory Maintenance of REO Properties as a Violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act, 17 CUNY L. Rev. 383 (2015)
Recent Development: In re African-American Slave Descendants Litigation, 42 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. (2007)
In the Media
- Connecticut Post, 02.25.2020
- WBTW News 13, 02.14.2019
- #BikingWhileBlack: NAACP and Black Motorcyclists Sue Myrtle Beach, SC, for Discrimination During ‘Black Bike Week’The Root, 05.25.2018
- The Post and Courier, 02.27.2018
- Peoria Public Radio, 08.11.2017
- The Nation, 07.15.2016
- New York Times, 06.27.2016
- Richmond BizSense, 07.29.2013
J.D., Harvard Law School
A.B., Brown University
- District of Columbia
- Hon. Algenon L. Marbley, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio