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Wells Fargo asks U.S. Supreme Court to take Miami housing case

This house on NW 70th Street in Miami was in foreclosure in June 2008.
This house on NW 70th Street in Miami was in foreclosure in June 2008. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Wells Fargo is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a dispute about whether the city of Miami can pursue lawsuits against major banks for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in September allowed Miami to move forward with cases alleging, in part, that banks targeted minorities for predatory loans. The city contended that the lending practices ultimately led to home foreclosures, lower property-tax revenues and increased costs for such things as police and fire services.

But in a petition filed last month with the U.S. Supreme Court, Wells Fargo argued that the city did not have the legal right to file the cases and that the appeals-court decision conflicted with other legal rulings.

The petition, posted on the website SCOTUSblog, urged the Supreme Court to decide the “straightforward” issue. “In short, the city’s asserted injuries do not fall within the FHA’s zone of interests, and were not proximately caused by the alleged statutory violations,” the petition said. “Because the city is not an ‘aggrieved person,’ it has no right to sue under the statute.”

The appeals court did not rule on whether banks violated the Fair Housing Act — only on whether the city should be able to pursue the cases.

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