IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
D.C. Docket No. 1:13-cv-24508-WPD
CITY OF MIAMI, a Florida municipal corporation, Plaintiff – Appellant,
WELLS FARGO & CO., WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Defendants – Appellees.
Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
(September 1, 2015)
Before MARCUS and WILSON, Circuit Judges, and SCHLESINGER,* District Judge.
MARCUS, Circuit Judge:
On December 13, 2011, the City of Miami brought three separate fair housing lawsuits against Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup. Each alleged that the bank in question had engaged in a decade-long pattern of discriminatory lending by targeting minorities for predatory loans. The complaints in each case were largely identical, each identifying the same pattern of behavior and supported by empirical data specific to each defendant. Moreover, each complaint contained the same two causes of action: one claim arising under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., as well as an attendant unjust enrichment claim under Florida law.
The three cases were heard by the same judge in the Southern District of Florida, and were resolved in the same way based on the district court’s order in the Bank of America case. In this case, like the others, the district court dismissed the City’s FHA claim with prejudice on three grounds: the City lacked statutory standing under the FHA because its alleged injuries fell outside the statute’s “zone of interests”; the City had not adequately pled that Wells Fargo’s conduct proximately caused the harm sustained by the City; and, finally, the City had run afoul of the statute of limitations and could not employ the continuing violation doctrine. Each of the three cases was appealed separately.
After thorough review, we are constrained to disagree with the district court’s legal conclusions about the City’s FHA claims. The most detailed account of our reasoning is set out in the companion case City of Miami v. Bank of America Corp., No. 14-14543. The same conclusions of law apply here. As a preliminary matter, we find that the City has constitutional standing to pursue its FHA claims. Furthermore, under controlling Supreme Court precedent, the “zone of interests” for the Fair Housing Act extends as broadly as permitted under Article III of the Constitution, and therefore encompasses the City’s claim. While we agree with the district court’s conclusion that the FHA contains a proximate cause requirement, we find that the City has adequately alleged proximate cause. Finally, the “continuing violation doctrine” would apply to the City’s claims, if they are adequately pled.