Hogan Lovells Pro Bono Team Achieves Significant Victory in Fair Housing Case

NEW YORK, NY, 12 December 2013 – In a long-awaited and historic decision, a Federal District Judge in the Eastern District of New York has ruled that the Village of Garden City in Long Island violated the federal Fair Housing Act, the United States Constitution, and other civil rights statutes by enacting a discriminatory zoning ordinance in 2004. The Court found that the Village’s action illegally discriminated on the basis of race and national origin against minorities and perpetuated segregation, which has allowed Garden City to remain a white enclave surrounded by predominantly minority neighboring towns. Lawyers from Hogan Lovells, along with lawyers from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington, represented the plaintiffs.

In 2004, Garden City considered a zoning proposal that would have made affordable housing possible on a Nassau County-owned site that was for sale in the Village. However, in the face of racially motivated public opposition, the Village rejected the proposal in favor of low-density zoning favoring high-cost single-family homes and townhouses. The District Court found that, “discrimination played a determinative role” in Garden City’s decision to reject the originally proposed zoning and that minorities in Nassau County “bore the brunt of the negative impacts” of that decision.

“This case is a prime example of housing discrimination and exclusionary zoning practices that are being used by too many communities across the country to block affordable housing that would be occupied by minorities,” said Stanley Brown, lead counsel for the plaintiffs and Partner in Hogan Lovells’ New York office. “The Hogan Lovells trial team is proud to have participated in this important pro bono litigation. It has been a long, eight-year fight and we are honored to have helped secure a groundbreaking victory for civil rights. This victory will send a strong message to other government entities that the use of restrictive zoning to discourage minority residency will not be tolerated.”

In the eight years since this lawsuit was filed, many Hogan Lovells attorneys and staff have worked on the matter. Partner Stan Brown led the current team, along with partner Pete Dennin, associates Chava Brandriss, Andrew Sein, Sarah Gregory, Ben Fleming, Leah Rabinowitz, Ben Reed and Caroline Cheng, paralegals Ray Torres, Linda Schepp, and Don Sparks, and litigation support analyst Miguel Lugo. Former partner Paul Sweeney and former associates Sabrina Cochet, Kim Bykov, Toby Smith, Jenny Rubin Robertson, Renee Garcia, and Luz Henriquez also contributed much to this case over the years.

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