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Jenner & Block Partner Ross B. Bricker recently spoke at a symposium analyzing post-Katrina New Orleans including the successes, failures, and lessons learned.
The 13th Annual Paul Robeson Conference, sponsored by the Columbia University School of Law Black Law Students Association, Mr. Bricker spoke at a session entitled, “Moving Forward: Using Legal Activism to Address Current Problems,” that addressed the roles lawyers and law students can play in New Orleans’ rebuilding process.
Mr. Bricker leads a Jenner & Block team in a discrimination class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), and various Senior government officials on behalf of public housing residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The clients have been out of their homes in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck in August, 2005. Like the rest of the city, they fled their homes. Unlike other evacuees though, the public housing residents have not been helped by government programs designed to support their return and have been denied access to their former homes.
“The federal government and much of New Orleans just doesn't want these people back," Mr. Bricker said at the event. He described his clients as "African Americans who are the poorest of the poor, largely female heads of households."
The Firm’s class action complaint alleges that the agencies’ actions violate the Fair Housing Act and other state and federal laws.
"With minor repairs, poor people could move back in there tomorrow," Mr. Bricker said at the symposium.
According to Mr. Bricker, trial for the case is set for late 2007.
In addition to Mr. Bricker, the Jenner & Block team representing the housing residents included Partner John F. Ward, Jr., Associates Adam H. Morse, Lara E. FitzSimmons, Gabriel A. Crowson, Abby J. Clark, Anne C. Fitzpatrick, Paralegal Shawn K. McGee and Summer Associates Nancy Jacobson, John Roberts and Sara Ruff.
The Paul Robeson Conference honors the legacy of Paul Robeson, the renowned civil rights activist and alumnus of Columbia Law School.