Washington, DC

High court dismisses environmental racism case

August 18, 1998
The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed a case from Pennsylvania that asked whether private citizens can sue over government agency regulations that allegedly result in racial discrimination.
     Chester, Pa., residents had accused the state of "environmental racism" by placing waste treatment facilities in their mostly black city, and the high court had agreed in June to hear arguments in the case. But the residents asked the justices last month to dismiss the case as moot because a permit for a proposed treatment facility was revoked and the facility will not be built. 

Condo board settles suit with disabled residents

August 08, 1998
The Villa Ridge condominium association board has agreed to a settlement with a group of disabled residents who filed a discrimination suit over the board's removing all the handicapped parking spaces at the Gaithersburg property.
     When the board made all the condo's parking spots first-come, first-served in December 1996, the disabled residents said in the their
complaint, it often meant long, painful walks from their cars to their homes.
     Under terms of the settlement reached last month, the board, which did not admit wrongdoing, agreed to provide "reasonable" parking accommodation or modification for any disabled residents; to institute an educational program to ensure that Villa Ridge employees know state and federal fair-housing laws; and to pay the plaintiffs $155,000 in damages and court costs. 

Cuomo says lending discrimination still a problem

August 06, 1998
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said a new report issued today that shows lenders are continuing to turn down minorities more often than whites for home mortgages shows the need for a comprehensive study of mortgage lending discrimination that he ordered in March.
     "The American Dream of homeownership is not reserved for whites," Cuomo said. "We will not tolerate a continued homeownership gap as wide as the Grand Canyon that divides Americans into two societies, separate and unequal. Eliminating housing and lending discrimination is vital to making the opportunity for homeownership a reality for all Americans."
     HUD's study of mortgage lending discrimination, which is being conducted by the Urban Institute in Washington and will be completed by the end of the year, will help HUD intensify its crackdown on mortgage lending discrimination and increase the minority homeownership rate, Cuomo said. The crackdown begun by Cuomo has obtained record commitments from lenders so far this year to make nearly $4 billion in mortgage loans to settle lending discrimination allegations.

Largest apartment builder settles accessibility suit

July 21, 1998
The nation's largest home builder, Pulte Corp., agreed Tuesday to build multi-family housing accessible to the disabled in what Justice Department officials called a "landmark agreement" under the Fair Housing Act.
     The out-of-court agreement calls for Pulte to build accessible housing nationwide, compensate disabled home buyers who were denied housing, and correct design flaws in large housing developments in Florida, Illinois and Virginia.

Lenders object to proposed consumer rights laws

July 17, 1998
Home equity lenders are bracing for a government report expected to tell the U.S. Congress how to crack down on unfair lending practices.
     The most controversial option under review would give consumers the right to sue lenders under federal law for unfair and deceptive practices, an easier legal test than suing for fraud, according to industry lobbyists and consumer activists.
     Banks, finance companies and other lenders say that would lead to an explosion of unnecessary lawsuits over perceived lending problems.
"It's a trial lawyers' dream," said Wright H. Andrews Jr., a prominent Washington lobbyist hired by National Home Equity Mortgage Association. 

Lawyers Committee attorneys recall movement

July 12, 1998
In 1967, Clarence Dunnaville Jr. left a high-profile New York law job and headed south, planning to help translate new civil rights laws into progress for black people. Soon, when he asked a Mississippi constable for help, he learned the hazards of the legal profession.
     The policeman ``put a shotgun in my face and ran me out of town,'' said Dunnaville, now a private attorney in Richmond, Va. ``It was very tense at the time.''
     Dunnaville and dozens of other attorneys answered President Kennedy's call in the turbulent 1960s and gave up lucrative careers and the comforts of home -- mostly in the North -- to join the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  

Solutions elusive in final race forum

July 09, 1998
The format was more controlled, the talk more sober. But as President Clinton conducted the third and final forum of his yearlong dialogue on race yesterday, he found that the end was much like the beginning: plenty of consensus about the challenges facing a multiethnic America of the 21st century, but painfully few concrete solutions.
     "This," said Clinton, "is tough stuff."

Farmers sue USDA for lending discrimination

July 08, 1998
A group of 129 black farmers filed a $500 million lawsuit against the Agriculture Department over complaints of discrimination in denial of farm loans and other benefits.
      The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court is intended to protect farmers who came forward with complaints after Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman's admission on February 21, 1997, that there was past discrimination.
      An earlier $2 billion lawsuit filed by 400 black farmers covered only those who had brought complaints prior to that date. Lawyers for the second group say they have been virtually ignored by the Agriculture Department.

HIV a disability at all stages, Supreme Court rules

June 25, 1998
HIV-infected people are protected by a federal ban on discrimination against the disabled even if they suffer no symptoms of AIDS, the Supreme Court ruled today. The 5-4 ruling ordered a lower court to reconsider whether a Maine dentist violated the Americans With Disabilities Act when he refused to fill an HIV-infected woman's tooth in his office.
      ``HIV infection satisfies the statutory and regulatory definition of a physical impairment during every stage of the disease,'' Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court.

State inmates are protected by ADA, high court rules

June 15, 1998
State prison inmates are protected by a federal law that bans discrimination against the disabled, the Supreme Court ruled today. The law applies to any state or local government agency and does not exclude prisons, the court said. The unanimous ruling lets a former Pennsylvania prisoner sue over his exclusion from a boot camp program that could have shortened his sentence.

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