Heyward v. Public Housing Administration, 16040.

Decision Date30 November 1956
Docket NumberNo. 16040.,16040.
Citation238 F.2d 689
PartiesPrince HEYWARD et al., Appellants, v. PUBLIC HOUSING ADMINISTRATION et al., Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit


Constance Baker Motley, Thurgood Marshall, New York City, A. T. Walden, Atlanta, Ga., Frank D. Reeves, Washington, D. C., for appellants.

Shelby Myrick, Geo. C. Heyward, Myrick & Myrick, Savannah, Ga., for appellee Housing Authority of Savannah, Ga.

Donald B. MacGuineas, Atty. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., George Cochran Doub, Asst. Atty. Gen., Paul A. Sweeney, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., for appellees, Public Housing Administration and Arthur R. Hanson.

Before HUTCHESON, Chief Judge, and BORAH and BROWN, Circuit Judges.

BORAH, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from two orders entered by the district court dismissing an action brought by Prince Heyward and seventeen other Negro citizens of the United States, residents of Savannah, Georgia, in their own behalf and in behalf of other Negroes similarly situated, against two groups of defendants, (1) the Public Housing Administration,1 and its Atlanta Field Office Director, Arthur Hanson, and (2) the Housing Authority of Savannah, Georgia,2 and its officers,3 praying for a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and an award of $5,000 damages to each plaintiff against each defendant. The jurisdiction of the court below was invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331,4 on the ground that the action arises under the Constitution and laws of the United States and more than $3,000 is in controversy, and 28 U.S.C. § 1343 (3),5 on the ground that the plaintiffs seek redress for deprivation of their civil rights.

The gravamen of the complaint which was filed on May 20, 1954, is that defendants, as public officers, are jointly enforcing a policy of racial segregation in public low-rent housing projects in Savannah, in violation of the rights secured to plaintiffs by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution, and the United States Housing Act of 1937, as amended,6 the National Defense Housing Acts,7 and the Civil Rights Statute.8 Within the delay for answering, Savannah Housing Authority, hereinafter called SHA, and its officers filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and with reservation of their rights under the motion they also filed an answer, a motion for a more definite statement, and a motion to strike certain portions of the complaint. The record reflects that no answer was filed by either Public Housing Administration, hereinafter called PHA, or Hanson. Approximately one year after the complaint was filed and on May 5, 1955, plaintiffs served upon PHA, Hanson, SHA and Stillwell, a request for admission of facts to which SHA and Stillwell timely replied, but no response thereto was ever filed by either PHA or Hanson. However, on June 14, 1955, PHA and Hanson filed a motion for summary judgment and, in support thereof, an affidavit of Charles E. Slusser, Commissioner of PHA. Thereafter, and prior to the hearing on the defendants' respective motions for summary judgment and to dismiss, plaintiffs propounded interrogatories to Stillwell, Secretary-Director of SHA, which were duly answered by him. On September 29, 1955, which was one day prior to the date fixed for the hearing on defendants' previously filed motions, plaintiffs filed a written notice which recited that they would in accordance with the attached motion move on October 10, 1955, for a summary judgment against SHA and its officers. At the hearing on defendants' motion which was had on the following day, plaintiffs' counsel asked the court to consider also at that time their proposed motion for summary judgment, and this request was denied. Thereafter, and upon consideration of the arguments and briefs and without entertaining a hearing on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, the court on October 15, 1955, issued an order granting the motion of PHA and Hanson for summary judgment, and on October 21, 1955, granted the motion of the remaining defendants to dismiss. This appeal followed.

In considering the propriety of the district court's action, it would now appear in order to set forth the theory of plaintiffs' complaint and the essential allegations made in support of their claim for relief. The complaint in substance alleges: that PHA and SHA, pursuant to the provisions of the Housing Act of 1937, as amended, have constructed and agreed to construct, operate and maintain several public housing projects in the City of Savannah, some of which are and will be located on the site of the residences or former residences of the plaintiffs; that pursuant to the provisions of the National Defense Housing Acts, PHA holds title to certain other public housing projects in Savannah which are operated by SHA as agent for PHA; and that the entire public housing program in Savannah has been jointly planned, constructed, operated, and maintained by PHA and SHA pursuant to the provisions of the aforementioned housing acts and the laws of the State of Georgia. In this connection plaintiffs allege that in administering the entire public housing program PHA and SHA have determined upon and presently enforce an administrative policy of racial segregation resulting in the designation of certain projects for occupancy by qualified white families and in the designation of other projects for occupancy by qualified Negro families; that it is the practice and policy of each of the defendants to require applicants for public housing to state a preference for admission to a particular project and "that this information is put on the application blank prepared for the purpose of taking applications for public housing and that such information is in fact and effect a device for discriminating against the Plaintiffs and the members of the class which they represent, solely because of their race or color;" and that pursuant to the racial segregation policy, plaintiffs and others similarly situated, solely because they are Negroes, are denied the rights and preference to occupy housing projects, including those operated by SHA as agent for PHA, which have been limited to white occupancy by the defendants. It is also alleged that each of the plaintiffs has been or will be displaced from the site of his or her residence and adjacent areas which have been condemned by or on behalf of SHA for the purpose of constructing thereon, certain low-rent housing projects, one of which is known as Fred Wessels Homes; that each of the plaintiffs meets all of the requirements established by law for consideration for admission and for admission to the project built on or to be built on the site of his or her former residence, and to certain other public housing projects in Savannah all of which have been limited by defendants to occupancy by white families. The complaint further alleges that white families which have not been displaced from the site of any low-rent housing project or slum-clearance project initiated after January 1, 1947, and whose housing needs are not or were not as urgent as those of the plaintiffs have been admitted to Fred Wessels Homes and to other projects limited to white occupancy, whereas each of the plaintiffs desires to live in Fred Wessels Homes, and each has been denied admission to Fred Wessels Homes, solely because of race and color, despite the fact that at the time said project was ready for occupancy, each of the plaintiffs had a preference for admission by virtue of the fact that each was or is among those having the greatest urgency of need among low-income families eligible for public housing in Savannah. Finally, it is alleged that each of the defendants is under a duty to discharge his or its duties in conformity with the Constitution, laws and public policy of the United States, and that plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law to protect their "civil and constitutional right not to be discriminated against by the State and Federal Governments, solely because of race, in leasing an interest in real property." The relief prayed is that the court declare the rights and other legal relations of the parties as to the subject-matter in controversy,9 and that the court enjoin defendants and their agents: (1) from refusing to accept plaintiffs' applications for certain public housing projects; (2) from refusing to certify plaintiffs as eligible for certain housing projects; (3) from refusing to admit plaintiffs to any public housing unit for which they are eligible, solely because plaintiffs are Negroes; (4) from pursuing a policy of racial segregation in public housing; (5) from refusing to extend the statutory preferences for the admission of plaintiffs to certain projects; (6) from classifying plaintiffs and others similarly situated on the basis of race for any purpose with respect to their applications for or admissions to, or residence in, any public housing project; (7) from requiring plaintiffs to state a preference for admission to a particular project upon making application for admission to any public housing project; and, (8) from segregating plaintiffs within any project to which they are admitted. Additional injunctive relief is prayed to enjoin PHA from giving federal financial and other federal assistance to SHA for the construction, operation, or maintenance of any project which excludes plaintiffs and other Negroes similarly situated, solely because of race or color. Finally, plaintiffs pray that each of them be awarded damages in the amount of $5,000 against each and all of the defendants, and that the Court grant such other and additional relief as may appear to be equitable and just.

The district court granted the motion of defendants PHA and Hanson for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint as to them on the following grounds: (1) that the Court lacks jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because the complaint fails to show that...

To continue reading

Request your trial
73 cases
  • Prakash v. American University
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • February 10, 1984
    ...79, 81 n. 1, 190 F.2d 653, 655 n. 1, cert. denied, 342 U.S. 855, 72 S.Ct. 82, 96 L.Ed. 644 (1951); Heyward v. Public Hous. Adm'r, 238 F.2d 689, 694-695 (5th Cir.1956); Stanley v. CIA, 639 F.2d 1146, 1157 (5th Cir.1981); Rosemound Sand & Gravel Co. v. Lambert Sand & Gravel Co., supra note 35......
  • Barlow v. Marion Cty. Hospital Dist.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida
    • July 29, 1980
    ...A summary judgment motion is an inappropriate vehicle for challenging subject matter jurisdiction. Heyward v. Public Housing Administration, 238 F.2d 689, 694 (5th Cir. 1956). Wright & Miller, 10 Federal Practice and Procedure p. 402 (1972). The Court concludes that the federal defendants' ......
  • Lipschutz v. Gordon Jewelry Corporation
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • February 22, 1974
    ...Cummings, 453 F.2d 320, 324 (5th Cir. 1972); Brunswick Corp. v. Vineberg, 370 F.2d 605, 612 (5th Cir. 1967); Heyward v. Public Housing Administration, 238 F.2d 689 (5th Cir. 1957); American Ins. Co. v. Gentile Bros. Co., 109 F.2d 732 (5th Cir. 1940), cert. denied, 310 U. S. 633, 60 S.Ct. 10......
  • Citizens Committee for Faraday Wood v. Lindsay
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • April 28, 1975
    ...to provide more housing for nonwhites. The Sough had to face up to these problems almost two decades ago. Heyward v. Public Housing Administration, 238 F.2d 689 (5th Cir. 1956).17 The district court in Acevedo specifically found that 'The evidence before the court does not disclose the exis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT