Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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Within months of her arrival at St. Andrew, a residential community for older adults, Wetzel physical and verbal abuse from other residents because she is openly lesbian. She repeatedly asked St. Andrew’s staff to help her. The staff limited her use of facilities and built a case for her eviction. Wetzel sued St. Andrew, alleging that it failed to provide her with non‐discriminatory housing and that it retaliated against her because of her complaints, citing the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601–3619. The district court dismissed Wetzel’s suit. The Seventh Circuit reversed, reading the FHA “more broadly.” Not only does the FHA create liability when a landlord intentionally discriminates against a tenant based on a protected characteristic; it also creates liability against a landlord that has actual notice of tenant‐on‐tenant harassment based on a protected status, yet chooses not to take any reasonable steps within its control to stop that harassment. View "Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Community, LLC" on Justia Law

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Thorncreek, a Park Forest townhouse complex, applied to the Village for a permit to use a vacant townhouse as a business office but began to conduct its business from the townhouse without a permit. The Village cited it for zoning violations and operating without the required permit. The Village later filed suit to halt the zoning and operating violations and to redress certain building-code violations. Thorncreek counterclaimed against the Village and 10 officials, claiming civil-rights violations under 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986 and the Illinois Civil Rights Act. Two Thorncreek "areas" went into foreclosure. Thorncreek blamed the Village’s regulatory overreach in denying a business license, interfering with business operations, refusing to grant a conditional use permit, failing to issue a certificate of occupancy, and unequally enforcing a building-code provision requiring electrical upgrades, based on irrational animus against Clapper, the owner, and racial bias against its black residents. A jury found the Village and Village Manager Mick liable for a class-of-one equal-protection violation; found Mick and Kerestes, the director of community development, liable for conspiracy (section 1985(3)); otherwise rejected the claims, and awarded $2,014,000 in compensatory damages. Because the jury rejected the race-based equal-protection claim, the judge struck the verdict against Kerestes. The judge awarded $430,999.25 in fees and $44,844.33 in costs. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the judgment against Mick, the admission of evidence concerning Clapper’s wealth, and the admission of Thorncreek’s financial records. View "Thorncreek Apartments I, LLC v. Village of Park Forest" on Justia Law

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Thorncreek, a Park Forest townhouse complex, applied to the Village for a permit to use a vacant townhouse as a business office but began to conduct its business from the townhouse without a permit. The Village cited it for zoning violations and operating without the required permit. The Village later filed suit to halt the zoning and operating violations and to redress certain building-code violations. Thorncreek counterclaimed against the Village and 10 officials, claiming civil-rights violations under 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986 and the Illinois Civil Rights Act. Two Thorncreek "areas" went into foreclosure. Thorncreek blamed the Village’s regulatory overreach in denying a business license, interfering with business operations, refusing to grant a conditional use permit, failing to issue a certificate of occupancy, and unequally enforcing a building-code provision requiring electrical upgrades, based on irrational animus against Clapper, the owner, and racial bias against its black residents. A jury found the Village and Village Manager Mick liable for a class-of-one equal-protection violation; found Mick and Kerestes, the director of community development, liable for conspiracy (section 1985(3)); otherwise rejected the claims, and awarded $2,014,000 in compensatory damages. Because the jury rejected the race-based equal-protection claim, the judge struck the verdict against Kerestes. The judge awarded $430,999.25 in fees and $44,844.33 in costs. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the judgment against Mick, the admission of evidence concerning Clapper’s wealth, and the admission of Thorncreek’s financial records. View "Thorncreek Apartments I, LLC v. Village of Park Forest" on Justia Law

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Meadows worked for the Rockford Housing Authority (RHA), and leased, for $10 per month, an RHA apartment in a high-rise occupied by elderly and disabled tenants. RHA tenants complained that someone else was living in Meadows’s apartment. RHA’s manager saw an unidentified man leave the apartment and lock the door with a key and reported to RHA’s director, who contacted Metro, a private security company under contract with the RHA. Metro employee Novay, knocked on the door and spoke with a Sockwell, who stated that he was renting the apartment. Novay took Sockwell’s key and escorted him from the building. Meadows returned to the apartment, and, without notifying RHA or Metro, installed a new lock. That evening, RHA's director suggested changing the apartment's locks to protect the other tenants. The next morning, Meadows went to the police station to report that his apartment “had been ransacked.” Novay arrived to supervise the locksmith and found that Sockwell’s key no longer worked. The locksmith picked the locks. Meadows arrived, became enraged, tried to physically remove Novay, and called the police. Meadows was given a new key and allowed to remain in the apartment that day. Meadows sued Metro’s employees under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants; the employees of a private security company, who carried out the RHA’s order, are entitled to qualified immunity. View "Meadows v. Rockford Housing Authority" on Justia Law