Lenders subject to legal threats under FHA case, CUNA warns court

April 5, 2016

WASHINGTON (4/5/16)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA), along with other trade organizations, filed an amici curiae brief Monday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case that raises important questions about the scope of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The case, City of Miami v. Bank of America and City of Miami V. Wells Fargo, involves a decision by the 11th Circuit Court.

The city of Miami sued Bank of America and Wells Fargo under the Fair Housing Act, claiming that discrimination by the banks against city residents entitles the city to damages for indirect harm. The city argues that foreclosures and other events stemming from unfavorable mortgages resulted in lost revenue from lower property taxes and other incurred expenses.

According to CUNA, this decision could potentially open the door for other entities, such as neighboring residents, municipalities and even local business, to maintain suits against financial institutions, even if the entity has never had direct dealings with a credit union or bank.

CUNA’s brief urges the Supreme Court to reverse the 11th Circuit Court’s decision, citing recent rulings from the Supreme Court itself, a lack of standing, and the unnecessary expansion of potential liability for lenders without any limiting factor.

“If ordinary statutory standing principles do not limit these types of suits, defendants will at a minimum face enormous costs in conducting discovery and litigating the claims,” the brief reads.

In addition to CUNA, the brief was submitted by the American Bankers Association, American Financial Services Association, Consumer Bankers Association, Consumer Mortgage Coalition, Housing Policy Council of the Financial Services Roundtable, Independent Community Bankers of America, Mortgage Bankers Association and National Association of Federal Credit Unions.