Judge Rules Racial Housing Discrimination Case Against Bronx Cooperative Should Proceed to Trial

  • March 9, 2012

In a detailed 24-page ruling today, United States District Judge Robert P. Patterson, Jr. denied Edgewater Park Owners’ Cooperative’s motion for summary judgment on the claims of housing discrimination brought against them by ECBAWM on behalf of the Fair Housing Justice Center (“FHJC”). The case challenges Edgewater Park’s requirement that purchasers obtain three references from existing shareholders as a pre-requisite to buying shares of the Co-Op under theories of both intentional discrimination and “disparate impact” discrimination against African-Americans, under federal, state, and city law. Judge Patterson held that the FHJC had adduced sufficient evidence on all of its claims to proceed to trial, and that, as a fair housing organization, it had standing to pursue its claims. In his opinion, Judge Patterson found a “significant racial disparity in the demographics of Edgewater Park” and also noted a variety of evidence, including “troubling inconsistencies” in the testimony of Co-Op board members as to their application of the shareholder reference rule, which could support an inference of discriminatory intent. ECBAWM attorney Adam Pulver argued against the motion, and the briefs were written by Mr. Pulver, Diane L. Houk, and Sam Shapiro.