Havens Realty Corporation v. Coleman

PETITIONER: Havens Realty Corporation
RESPONDENT: Coleman
LOCATION: Residence of Fitzgerald

DOCKET NO.: 80-988
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 455 US 363 (1982)
ARGUED: Dec 01, 1981
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1982

ADVOCATES:
Everette G. Allen, Jr. - on behalf of the Petitioners
Vanessa Ruiz - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Havens Realty Corporation v. Coleman

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 01, 1981 in Havens Realty Corporation v. Coleman

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Havens Realty Corporation against Coleman.

Mr. Allen, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Everette G. Allen, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, this action arose pursuant to a complaint filed in the Eastern District of Virginia alleging that Petitioners, Havens Realty and its employee, Rose Jones, violated the Fair Housing Act and Section 1982.

As to these Respondents, the complaint was dismissed on grounds of lack of standing and the statute of limitations.

The Fourth Circuit reversed, and this Court granted certiorari.

The complaint here provided the sole facts before the Fourth Circuit and provide the sole facts before this Court.

Havens Realty operates two adjacent apartment complexes in Henrico County, Virginia, and is alleged to have engaged in racial steering at just these two apartment complexes.

Respondent HOME is a Richmond-based fair housing organization with the avowed purpose of making fair housing in Richmond a reality.

Its activities include counseling, investigating complaints, and testing to ensure compliance with the fair housing laws.

Its only contact with Petitioner Havens was through its employee testers to determine if Havens was complying with the fair housing laws.

Its injury is alleged as a frustration to its counseling.

Before you get too far along, counsel, I hope at some point that you will discuss the amicus representation to the Court that there were certain developments after the granting of cert in this case.

Everette G. Allen, Jr.:

Yes, Your Honor.

I will speak to that.

Because that might have something to do with the ultimate disposition.

Everette G. Allen, Jr.:

Yes, sir.

Let me speak to that.

One of the plaintiffs in this case, Paul Allen Coles, was a bona fide renter.

He was a party to this complaint.

His complaint withstood the motion to dismiss.

He went to trial, and a consent order was entered in his favor, in which Havens was found to have been engaged in racial steering.

That consent order, Your Honor, was addressed to Coles and his class, which was a class consisting of all black persons deemed to have been monetarily injured by those practices.

It can in no way, shape, or form affect the relief being requested by these Respondents, which is damages, other injunctive relief in the form of affirmative action, attorneys' fees, which will be substantial.

We submit that under this Court's stringent test of mootness, this case can't be moot.

As to the contention that the writ was improperly granted, Your Honor, we submit that for the same reasons evidenced in the cert petition, which are things not dealt with by this Court before, the tester qua tester issue, the dispute... the conflict between the Fourth Circuit and the Seventh Circuit as to organizational standing, that those are questions of important federal and constitutional law that are still in this case and are in no manner affected by the relief granted below.

HOME's membership... as to HOME's membership, we are told only that it is multi racial and numbers 600.

We are told nothing else about them, or where they live, only that Havens' conduct denied them the benefit of interracial associations.

The two individual Respondents, Sylvia Coleman, a black woman, and Kent Willis, a white man, are HOME employees.

They were not in any way bona fide apartment seekers, and their sole reason for contacting Havens was testing.

While we are not told precisely where they live, the complaint says that they lived somewhere in the city of Richmond or Henrico County, and that Havens's steering of these two apartment complexes deprives them of the benefit of interracial associations.