Jenner & Block

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April 20, 2018 LA Office Team Secures Pro Bono Victory in Housing Discrimination Case

A team from Jenner & Block’s Los Angeles office helped secure a favorable settlement for a pro bono client in a lawsuit challenging a Southern California city’s discriminatory housing ordinances.

Serving as co-counsel with the ACLU, the firm represented the Victor Valley Family Resource Center (VVFRC), which provides transitional housing to individuals recently released from incarceration.

Beginning in 2016, the City of Hesperia, in California’s high desert, began issuing regular citations to VVFRC for violating a city ordinance—which hadn’t been enforced in years—barring two or more unrelated individuals on probation from living together.  The City also began pressuring VVFRC’s landlords to evict the organization, relying on a new ordinance requiring landlords to evict upon notice any tenant engaged in unspecified criminal activity, regardless of whether an arrest was made or citation issued. 

In response, the ACLU of Southern California filed a class action in the Central District of California against the City and the San Bernardino County Sheriff, alleging that the two ordinances were unconstitutional in that they violated state and federal equal-protection and due-process rights. Jenner & Block joined the case as co-counsel shortly after.

In the spring of 2017, Hesperia’s city council repealed one of the ordinances. Later that year, the city council adopted significant revisions to the other ordinance, many of which were drafted by Associate Christopher S. Lindsay and our ACLU co-counsel.

As part of a settlement agreement finalized in April 2018, Hesperia also agreed to pay a substantial award to make VVFRC and our other clients whole for the costs they incurred due to the city’s enforcement of the two ordinances, rescind any outstanding fines or citations, and release liens imposed against their properties. It also agreed to pay attorneys’ fees.

Several media outlets covered the settlement in the case, including the Los Angeles Times, San Bernardino Sun and Victor Valley Daily Press.

At a luncheon on June 8, 2018, the ACLU will honor the firm for its work on the case with its Homeless Rights Advocacy Award.

In addition to Mr. Lindsay, Associate Andrew G. Sullivan helped lead the firm team, with support from Partner A.J. Thomas and former associate Kate Spelman. Many other associates made valuable contributions, including Brian Adesman, Ben J. Brysacz, Sean D. Nelson and Daixi Xu; summer associate Anna Lyons; and former associate Calvin Mohammadi.  Paralegals Alonso Ponce, Diana Vuong and Julian Valenzuela, and legal assistants Jennifer Rodriguez, Laura Saltzman and Kat White, supported the team.

 

CATEGORIES: housing, Victor Valley Family Resource Center

PEOPLE: Andrew J. Thomas, Christopher S. Lindsay, Andrew G. Sullivan, Brian Adesman, Ben J. Brysacz, Daixi Xu, Sean D. Nelson

May 19, 2016 Firm’s Win Helps DC Legal Services Corporations Recover Reasonable Fees

In Tenants of 710 Jefferson Street v. DC Rental Housing Commission, a firm team won an important victory for the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.  The win will affect the way DC courts determine lawyers’ fee awards when the prevailing party is a non-profit legal services corporation.

Please click here to read more.

CATEGORIES: housing

May 12, 2016 Associate Handles DC Pro Bono Clinic Referral of Landlord/Tenant Case

The firm successfully represented a pro bono client who was sued by her landlord in an effort to evict her based on nonpayment of rent and violation of the terms of the lease. On her behalf, the firm pursued a counterclaim to recoup rent she had paid despite serious housing code violations, including flooding in the bathroom over a nine-month period, exposed heating elements and electrical wires, and rodent and cockroach infestations. 

Please click here to read more.

CATEGORIES: housing

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