In a decision that may have far-reaching implications throughout the apartment industry, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia threw out a suit brought by the Washington, D.C.-based Equal Rights Center (ERC) against Atlanta-based Post Properties for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.
In the ruling issued in early October, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon stated that the ERC lacks the necessary standing to bring this action and dismissed the case. The case had been in limbo since 2006, when ERC first filed the suit, alleging that Post “designed, constructed, and operated its complexes in a manner making them inaccessible to persons with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act.” Post countered that the ERC didn’t have standing as an organization representing the disabled.
“The judge ruled that the ERC didn’t have the right to bring the case against Post, essentially because they weren’t damaged,” says Christopher Hanback, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm Holland & Knight that defended Post. “That’s an important legal concept that requires that the courts only adjudicate cases between parties that have real disputes. Just because a public interest group doesn’t like the law and wants to change the law, the group can’t go into court and try to find a claim.”