FINCHER v. SOUTH BEND HERITAGE FOUNDATION (May 10, 2010)

The South Bend Housing Authority (SBHA) evicted Marshall Fincher from one of its public housing units. Fincher then requested tenancy, under Section 8 of the United States Housing Act, in a building owned by the South Bend Heritage Foundation (SBHF). Based on the eviction, SBHF denied his application without a hearing. Fincher brought suit against SBHF. The district court granted summary judgment to SBHF, concluding that Fincher did not have a property interest in any specific SBHF housing and that he failed to identify any contract term between SBHF and HUD for which he was a claimed third-party beneficiary. Fincher appeals.

In their opinion, Circuit Judges Flaum and Wood and District Judge St. Eve affirmed. The Court noted that its 1984 decision in Eidson v. Pierce held that there was no property interest for a Section 8 applicant for a housing unit. Considering Fincher's request that Eidson be overruled, the Court reviewed the analysis of the case and noted that another circuit had expressly adopted its reasoning. The only circuit to squarely contradict the case did so in 1982 -- and its reasoning was considered and rejected in Eidson. The Court distinguished the few other cases brought forth by Fincher. Finding that Eidson was well reasoned and seeing no significant changes in the law since its publication, the Court declined to overturn it. With respect to the third party beneficiary claim, the Court agreed with the district court that Fincher cited no contract term or federal housing regulation that gives rise to any enforceable right.