TOPIC v. Circle Realty, No. 74-2147

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore CHAMBERS, TRASK and KENNEDY; ANTHONY M. KENNEDY
Citation532 F.2d 1273
PartiesTOPIC et al., Appellees, v. CIRCLE REALTY et al., Appellants.
Docket NumberNo. 74-2147
Decision Date23 March 1976

Page 1273

532 F.2d 1273
TOPIC et al., Appellees,
v.
CIRCLE REALTY et al., Appellants.
No. 74-2147.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
March 23, 1976.

Page 1274

Carl B. Pearlston, Jr. (argued), Redondo Beach, Cal., for appellants.

Lowell Johnston (argued), San Francisco, Cal., for appellees.

OPINION

Before CHAMBERS, TRASK and KENNEDY, Circuit Judges.

ANTHONY M. KENNEDY, Circuit Judge:

This is an interlocutory appeal from the district court's refusal to dismiss actions to enjoin three Los Angeles real estate brokers from alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. § 3604, and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1982. 1 Jurisdiction in the district court was based on the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612, and on 28 U.S.C. § 1343(4). The plaintiffs are TOPIC, 2 an unincorporated association, and three individual members. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiffs had standing to sue under the Fair Housing Act. 3

TOPIC is an organization of approximately one hundred families, both black and white, living in the cities of Torrance and Carson, California, and in the unincorporated portion of Los Angeles County which lies between those cities. The declared purpose of TOPIC is to combat racial discrimination and eliminate race as a factor in the marketing of housing for the geographical area where its members reside.

During 1973 TOPIC used teams of black couples and white couples posing as home seekers to investigate the business practices of real estate brokers in Torrance and Carson. Based on this investigation TOPIC concluded that the defendant real estate brokers engage in "racial steering," defined in the complaints as the practice of "directing non-white home seekers to housing in designated minority residential areas, and directing white home seekers to housing in designated white residential areas." These actions charge that such steering violates the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a), (b) and (d). 4 None of the plaintiffs were actual homeseekers subjected to racial steering; rather, these plaintiffs alleged that they are injured by the defendants' activities in that they are:

being deprived of the important social and professional benefits of living in an integrated community. Moreover, they have suffered and will continue to suffer embarrassment and economic damage in their social and professional activities from being stigmatized as residents of either white or black ghettoes . . . .

Page 1275

As a general rule, litigants do not have standing to assert the rights of third parties who may have been injured by unlawful conduct. However, a statute may accord such standing to a "private attorney general," as long as the unlawful conduct has also caused him injury-in-fact sufficient to satisfy the case or controversy requirement of article III. Here the injury alleged by TOPIC and its members is similar to that in Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 409 U.S. 205, 208, 93 S.Ct. 364, 366, 34 L.Ed.2d 415, 418 (1972). There the Supreme Court held that the Fair Housing Act in 42 U.S.C. § 3610, conferred standing broadly enough to include tenants of a large apartment complex challenging their landlord's alleged discrimination in the rental of apartments. The Court's conclusion was based on the purpose and structure of the Act, and the expansive definition of "person aggrieved" in section 3610.

There are, however, two significant distinctions between the instant case and Trafficante. First, the plaintiffs here are not residents of a single apartment complex, but rather of a section of metropolitan Los Angeles with a population exceeding 100,000. Therefore, the role played by defendants' alleged racial steering in denying the plaintiffs the benefits of living in an integrated community may be so attenuated as to negate the existence of any injury in fact. It is quite possible that, even absent the defendants' discriminatory practices, Carson and Torrance would still be segregated communities. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 504-08, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2208-10, 45 L.Ed.2d 343, 358-60 (1975).

However, we need not reach this constitutional issue because of the second distinction with Trafficante. This action was brought under section 3612 rather than section 3610. We hold that the language of section 3612 does not authorize...

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20 practice notes
  • Nodleman v. Aero Mexico, No. CV 79-3909-WMB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • 10 Diciembre 1981
    ...due to discrimination against blacks met the Article III requirements of individual injury and injury in fact. In Topic v. Circle Realty, 532 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. 1976), the Ninth Circuit held that unlike § 810 of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, § 812, 42 U.S.C. § 3612, did not authorize lawsu......
  • Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, No. 77-1493
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 17 Abril 1979
    ...persons to whom Congress had extended the right to sue under § 812. The court expressly adopted the reasoning of TOPIC v. Circle Realty, 532 F.2d 1273 (CA9 1976), a case involving facts similar to those here. In TOPIC the Ninth Circuit decided that Congress intended to limit actions under §......
  • FAIR HOUS. COUN. ETC. v. EASTERN BERGEN CTY. MLS, Civ. A. No. 76-418.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • 22 Noviembre 1976
    ...practices. This issue was addressed in TOPIC v. Circle Realty Co., 377 F.Supp. 111 (C.D.Cal. 1974), rev'd on other grounds, 532 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. 1976). Plaintiffs in TOPIC were unincorporated volunteer organization and individual residents of the community embracing the cities of Torranc......
  • Inland Mediation Bd. v. City of Pomona, No. CV99-10102FMC(MCX).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • 23 Agosto 2001
    ...defendant violated fair housing statute); see also Topic v. Circle Realty, 377 F.Supp. 111, 114 (C.D.Cal.1974), rev'd on other grounds, 532 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. In sum, the Court finds that were Defendants to be adjudged guilty of fair housing and anti-discrimination violations, Plaintiffs h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Nodleman v. Aero Mexico, No. CV 79-3909-WMB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • 10 Diciembre 1981
    ...due to discrimination against blacks met the Article III requirements of individual injury and injury in fact. In Topic v. Circle Realty, 532 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. 1976), the Ninth Circuit held that unlike § 810 of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, § 812, 42 U.S.C. § 3612, did not authorize lawsu......
  • Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, No. 77-1493
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 17 Abril 1979
    ...persons to whom Congress had extended the right to sue under § 812. The court expressly adopted the reasoning of TOPIC v. Circle Realty, 532 F.2d 1273 (CA9 1976), a case involving facts similar to those here. In TOPIC the Ninth Circuit decided that Congress intended to limit actions under §......
  • FAIR HOUS. COUN. ETC. v. EASTERN BERGEN CTY. MLS, Civ. A. No. 76-418.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • 22 Noviembre 1976
    ...practices. This issue was addressed in TOPIC v. Circle Realty Co., 377 F.Supp. 111 (C.D.Cal. 1974), rev'd on other grounds, 532 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. 1976). Plaintiffs in TOPIC were unincorporated volunteer organization and individual residents of the community embracing the cities of Torranc......
  • Inland Mediation Bd. v. City of Pomona, No. CV99-10102FMC(MCX).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • 23 Agosto 2001
    ...defendant violated fair housing statute); see also Topic v. Circle Realty, 377 F.Supp. 111, 114 (C.D.Cal.1974), rev'd on other grounds, 532 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. In sum, the Court finds that were Defendants to be adjudged guilty of fair housing and anti-discrimination violations, Plaintiffs h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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