Court puts limits on Fair Housing Act litigation

May 17, 2008
In a case closely monitored by multifamily developers and disabled rights advocates across the country, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the right to sue over violations of the Fair Housing Act expires two years after a project's completion.
     The court heard the case of Garcia v. Brockway with all 11 judges on March 25 and issued a 9-2 decision Tuesday, reaffirming a 2-1 decision by a court panel in September.
     "This gives developers certainty and peace," said Josh Reisman, partner in the Las Vegas law office of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll. "They can say, 'I was involved in construction of this project and the design and construction were completed on this date and two years have elapsed from this date, and I can no longer be sued.'"
     Reisman argued the case on behalf of Michael Turk, builder of Craig Ranch Villas, formerly Villas at Rancho del Norte, completed in 1997. A disabled citizens' rights organization sued multiple defendants who had any part in designing and building the apartments, alleging inadequate sidewalk wheelchair ramps, lack of accessible building entrances and undersized interior doorways, among other Fair Housing Act violations.