168 F.3d 1069 (8th Cir. 1999), 98-1075, Campbell v. Minneapolis Public Housing Authority ex rel. City of Minneapolis

Docket Nº:98-1075, 98-1076.
Citation:168 F.3d 1069
Party Name:Jeffrey CAMPBELL, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff--Appellant, v. MINNEAPOLIS PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITY, in and for the CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS, a public body corporate and politic; Cora McCorvey, in her official capacity as Executive Director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, Defendants--Appellees. Jeffrey Campbe
Case Date:February 10, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 1069

168 F.3d 1069 (8th Cir. 1999)

Jeffrey CAMPBELL, on behalf of himself and others similarly

situated, Plaintiff--Appellant,



MINNEAPOLIS, a public body corporate and politic; Cora

McCorvey, in her official capacity as Executive Director of

the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, Defendants--Appellees.

Jeffrey Campbell, on behalf of himself and others similarly

situated, Plaintiff--Appellee,


Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, in and for the City of

Minneapolis, a public body corporate and politic,


Cora McCorvey, in her official capacity as Executive

Director of the Minneapolis Public Housing

Authority, Defendant.

Nos. 98-1075, 98-1076.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 10, 1999

Submitted Oct. 21, 1998.

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Dorinda L. Wider, Minneapolis, Minnesota, argued, for appellant.

Louis N. Smith, Minneapolis, Minnesota, argued (Matthew E. Johnson, Minneapolis, Minnesota, John D. Cann, St. Paul, Minnesota, on the brief), for appellee.

Before BOWMAN, Chief Judge, BRIGHT, and RICHARD S. ARNOLD, Circuit Judges.

BOWMAN, Chief Judge.

After he was denied eligibility for public housing, Jeffrey Campbell filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA). Campbell's suit alleged that the MPHA had violated federal, state, and local anti-discrimination provisions by requiring all applicants to disclose private information about a protected disability, past drug addiction, and by discriminating against applicants on the basis of the information disclosed. The District Court, deciding the case by ruling on cross-motions for summary judgment, enjoined the

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MPHA's challenged practices of inquiring into all applicants' chemical-dependency treatment histories and requiring that applicants release certain chemical-dependency treatment records to the MPHA. However, the District Court denied Campbell's request for class certification and other relief, such as damages or a mandatory injunction placing him on the waiting list for MPHA public housing. Both sides appeal. We vacate the injunction, vacate the denial of individual relief, and remand the question of Campbell's eligibility for public housing to the MPHA for redetermination.


The MPHA is a public entity that owns and manages almost 6600 units of publicly assisted housing in Minneapolis. The MPHA receives federal funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and must comply with HUD regulations and federal law to receive this funding.

Applicants seeking public-housing assistance from the MPHA must qualify under federal and state guidelines. To determine whether an applicant qualifies, the MPHA requires that all applicants complete an application, which includes a questionnaire and release forms that give the MPHA access to the applicant's criminal history and certain chemical-dependency treatment records. Applicants must also provide a thirty-six-month rental history or three letters of reference.

The MPHA public-housing application contains two items that Campbell challenges in this litigation. First, question 7 on the MPHA questionnaire asks applicants, "Have you or any member of your family intending to live with you in public housing EVER been in a detoxification center or a chemical dependency treatment program? ... If yes, where?" Appellants' App. at 48. Second, all MPHA public-housing applicants must sign a release form that allows the MPHA to obtain "[t]reatment summaries, program involvements, case plans and detox admissions" from the Hennepin County Community Services Chemical Health Division. See id. at 52.

In May 1996, Jeffrey Campbell, a thirty-three-year-old man who had been homeless for approximately four years, applied for MPHA public housing. As part of his application, Campbell answered question 7 affirmatively, indicating he had been in a chemical-dependency or detoxification treatment program. The MPHA interviewer requested, and Campbell later provided, proof that Campbell had completed a chemical-dependency treatment program in 1993. Campbell also executed the required releases permitting the MPHA to review his chemical-dependency treatment and criminal-history records. Finally, because he had been homeless and could not supply a thirty-six-month rental history, Campbell supplied three reference letters. One of these reference letters, written by a social worker at the Hennepin County Medical Center, mentioned Campbell's past drug use: "Mr. Campbell has a history of drug use, and I will leave it to him to give you the details on that." Id. at 55.

The MPHA accessed Campbell's chemical-dependency treatment and criminal-history records and reviewed Campbell's application, including the affirmative answer he had given to question 7 and the reference letter mentioning his past drug use. Campbell's chemical-dependency treatment records indicated that Campbell had used cocaine in March 1995, and possibly as late as August 1995. See id. at 37 (Declaration of Jeffrey Campbell) (admitting the use of illegal drugs in March 1995); id. at 33 (Defendants' Answer) (indicating Campbell's chemical-dependency treatment records revealed that in March 1995 Campbell admitted he "currently and regularly" used illegal drugs, and, that on August 1, 1995, he "continued to use cocaine on a weekly basis"). Campbell's criminal record, meanwhile, showed that in 1990 or 1992 he had been arrested or convicted for disorderly conduct, profanity in public, theft, and theft by check. See id. at 37 (Declaration of Jeffrey Campbell); id. at 56 (Letter from the MPHA to Campbell, Aug. 28, 1996).

The MPHA denied Campbell's public-housing application on August 28, 1996. In a

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letter, the MPHA indicated it was denying his application for the following reasons:

ú You have a criminal history which includes arrests and/or convictions for: disorderly conduct, profanity in public, theft, and theft by check ($20-$500).

ú According to an assessment done by the Hennepin County Community Services Chemical Health Division you have recently used illicit drugs and have a problem with alcohol. You have a history of paranoid behavior when using.

Id. at 56.

Campbell appealed the MPHA's decision, and received a review hearing before a three-person MPHA hearing panel on October 17, 1996. The hearing panel, made up of one MPHA employee and two MPHA residents, heard Campbell's appeal and denied his application. The hearing panel again cited Campbell's drug and alcohol use as the reasons for its denial:

1) Although Mr. Campbell has received treatment for drug/alcohol use he admits he is still using. Mr. Campbell exhibits paranoid behaviors when using, according to [Hennepin County Community Services].

2) Committee felt Mr. Campbell needs to resolve chemical use issues--including alcohol.

Id. at 60.

Campbell then filed this lawsuit in the District Court. He alleged that the MPHA had required him and other applicants to disclose a protected disability, past drug addiction, and had discriminated against them on the basis of this disability, in violation of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619 (1994); § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (1994); the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990(ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134 (1994); the United States Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1437-1437ff (1994); federal regulations implementing these statutory provisions; the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minn.Stat. § 363.03 subd. 4 (1996); and the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance, Minneapolis, Minn., Code of Ordinances tit. 7, § 139 (1991). 1 Campbell sought wide-ranging relief: (1) a declaration that the MPHA inquiry and release requirement violate federal and state law; (2) an injunction to prevent the MPHA from making such inquiries and requiring the release of such records as part of its public-housing application process; (3) a mandatory injunction placing Campbell on the waiting list in a position appropriate for the time when he submitted his application; (4) an order requiring the MPHA to promulgate a written policy ensuring a nondiscriminatory application process; and (5) an award of compensatory damages for economic damages and emotional distress. See Campbell v. Minneapolis Pub. Hous. Auth., 175 F.R.D. 531, 534 (D.Minn.1997).

The MPHA suspended the challenged practices after Campbell's suit commenced, but in court it defended its inquiry and its release requirement as being authorized by the Housing Opportunity Program Extension Act of 1996 (Extension Act), 110 Stat. 834, 837-38 (1996) (codified at U.S.C.A. § 1437n(1)(e) (West Supp.1998)). The Extension Act requires public-housing authorities to take steps to prevent persons with a

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history of illegal drug use or alcohol abuse from receiving public housing assistance if the drug use or alcohol abuse "may interfere with the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents of the project ...." 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437n(e)(1)(A) (West Supp.1998).

The parties did not dispute the material facts, so the District Court decided the case on cross-motions for summary judgment. Finding that nothing in the Extension Act repealed the pre-existing anti-discrimination provisions, the District Court enjoined the defendants from using question 7 and requiring all applicants to execute a release of their chemical-dependency treatment records. See Campbell, 175 F.R.D. at 535, 538. However, the court determined that Campbell's application, excluding his response to question 7 and the chemical-dependency treatment records he released, would have justified the MPHA's inquiry into his chemical-dependency treatment history, so it denied Campbell the other relief he...

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