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Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommate.com

(2012)

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 666 F.3d 1216

tl;dr:

A roommate selection website that asked for information about protected characteristics such as sex did not violate the Fair Housing Act, because choice of roommate touches on fundamental

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ICRAIssue, Conclusion, Rule, Analysis for Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommate.com

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Facts & HoldingFair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommate.com case brief facts & holding

Facts:The defendant owned a website that helped people find roommates....

Holding:Roommates.com does not violate the FHA, because roommate selection falls...

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Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommate.com | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: KOZINSKI, Chief Judge:
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The legal case involves whether the Fair Housing Act (FHA) applies to roommate selection. Roommate.com, LLC was sued for violating the FHA and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The district court initially dismissed the claims against Roommate.com, LLC, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision. On remand, the district court held that Roommate's activities violated the FHA and FEHA and granted a permanent injunction. Roommate.com, LLC is arguing that the Fair Housing Councils lack standing to sue because they did not suffer actual injury. However, the FHCs have organizational standing because Roommate's conduct caused them to divert resources independent of litigation costs and frustrated their central mission. The court is questioning whether the FHA applies to roommate selection, as it was intended to address discrimination by landlords in the sale and rental of housing. Constitutional concerns weigh against applying the FHA to roommate selection, as the right to intimate association is a fundamental element of liberty protected by the Bill of Rights.

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Opinion (Concurring-in-part-and-dissenting-in-part), author: IKUTA, Circuit Judge
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The majority decision in the case stated that the Fair Housing Act does not apply to shared living units. However, Judge IKUTA dissented, stating that the test for organizational standing used by the circuit is not in line with Supreme Court precedent. The Fair Housing Councils must show they suffered an injury in fact to assert standing as an organization. The court's application of the two-prong test has drifted away from the requirement that an organization must actually suffer an injury. In Smith, the Ninth Circuit held that an organization dedicated to eliminating discrimination against individuals with disabilities had standing to sue a real estate developer for violating accessibility laws, as any violation of the law frustrated the organization's mission.

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