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Cox v. Dallas, City of

ELR Citation: 35 ELR 20228
Nos. No. 04-11304, (5th Cir., 11/09/2005) aff'd

The court upholds a lower court's summary judgment and bench trial rulings in favor of a city that was sued by homeowners for failing to police the operation of an illegal dump near their homes. The homeowners argued that the city violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) §3604(a) because the dump makes it more difficult for them to sell their houses and lowers the value of their houses. Decreased home values, however, do not make dwellings "unavailable" within the meaning of the Act. The homeowners also argued that the dump has made housing "unavailable" because the land underneath the dump is now unavailable for housing for them or prospective residents. Yet, there is no indication that the site was offered for sale for the construction of residential buildings, that housing would have been constructed on the land had the city stringently enforced its dumping laws, or that other land is not available for housing in the area. The lower court, therefore, properly rejected their FHA §3604(a) claim. Nor did the city discriminate against the homeowners in violation of FHA §3604(b) when it failed to prevent dumping at the site. The alleged service here—the enforcement of zoning laws—was not "connected" to the sale or rental of a dwelling as the statute requires. Further, there was no proof of official action or discriminatory intent to support the homeowners' claims under 42 U.S.C. §§1981 and 1983.

[A prior decision in this litigation is published at 31 ELR 20767.]