Previously, we reported on lawsuits by cities to hold banks liable for rising foreclosures.
On January 16, Baltimore’s suit against Wells Fargo under the Fair Housing Act was booted. Baltimore v. Wells Fargo Bank, No. 08-CV-00062, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 834, at *1-2 (D. Md. Jan. 16, 2010). Judge Motz dismissed the complaint with leave to amend; concluding that Baltimore’s standing to sue for inner city blight was “not plausible.” Judge Motz credited Baltimore’s admission that of the 16,000 to 30,000 vacant homes only 80 had Wells loans. Id. at *8. Judge Motz underscored the implausible causality, noting other factors leading to urban decay, such as “extensive unemployment, lack of educational opportunity and choice irresponsible parenting, disrespect for the law, widespread drug use, and violence.” Id. at *9.
Baltimore’s City Solicitor is planning an amended complaint with specific claims tied to the Wells vacancies. The amended complaint may resemble Buffalo’s. Buffalo wants $16,000 for demolishing each of 57 blighted homes where banks allegedly walked away. Meanwhile, Cleveland intends to appeal the dismissal of its public nuisance suit. Memphis filed its public nuisance suit against Wells on December 30.