HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. —
For the past several years, Hofstra Law School’s Law Reform Advocacy Clinic has represented nine Latino tenants who have sued the Village of Farmingdale under the Fair Housing Act. On Wednesday, March 30, 2011, United States District Court Judge Denis Hurley denied the Village of Farmingdale’s motion for summary judgment in the case and set the case for jury trial.
The lawsuit alleges that the village violated the Fair Housing Act by implementing a redevelopment plan that targeted a 54-unit apartment complex —
in which the tenants were predominantly Hispanic—
resulting in their displacement from the building.
According to Stefan Krieger, professor of law and director emeritus of Hofstra Law’s Clinical Programs, Judge Hurley’s decision has “significant ramifications” in regard to municipal liability under the Fair Housing Act:
- He concluded that a municipality can be liable under the Act even if the legislative body never voted to formally adopt a redevelopment plan;
- He found that a municipality can be liable under the Act for removal of Latino tenants even if the redevelopment of the building is directly carried out by a private developer; and
- He found that racial animus of a municipality can be shown under the Act with evidence of impropriety in its land use procedures; of local residents’ racially-charged blogs; of campaign literature playing on white residents’ fears of Latinos; and of discriminatory enforcement of traffic regulations targeting Hispanic day laborers.
“This decision is a testament to our clients’ perseverance in their quest for vindication for the wrongs done to them at the hands of the Village and is a tribute to the hard work of Hofstra law students working on their behalf,” said Krieger.
Since 2006, more than 40 Hofstra law students have dedicated themselves to the litigation of this case, under the supervision of Professor Krieger.