Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, No. 71-708

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtDOUGLAS
Citation93 S.Ct. 364,409 U.S. 205,34 L.Ed.2d 415
PartiesPaul J. TRAFFICANTE et al., Petitioners, v. METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY et al
Docket NumberNo. 71-708
Decision Date07 December 1972

409 U.S. 205
93 S.Ct. 364
34 L.Ed.2d 415
Paul J. TRAFFICANTE et al., Petitioners,

v.

METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY et al.

No. 71-708.
Argued Nov. 7, 1972.
Decided Dec. 7, 1972.

Syllabus

Two tenants of an apartment complex filed complaints with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development alleging that their landlord racially discriminated against nonwhites, that the tenants thereby lost the social benefits of living in an integrated community, missed business and professional advantages that would have accrued from living with members of minority groups, and suffered from being 'stigmatized' as residents of a 'white ghetto.' The District Court, not reaching the merits, held that the complaining tenants were not within the class of persons entitled to sue under § 810(a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The Court of Appeals, in affirming, construed § 810(a) to permit complaints only by persons who are the objects of discriminatory housing practices. Held: The definition in § 810(a) of 'person aggrieved,' as 'any person who claims to have been injured by a discriminatory housing practice,' shows a congressional intention to define standing as broadly as is permitted by Article III of the Constitution, and petitioners, being tenants of the apartment complex, have standing to sue under § 810(a). Pp. 208—212.

446 F.2d 1158, 9 Cir., reversed.

Stephen V. Bomse, San Francisco, Cal., for petitioners.

Richard J. Kilmartin, San Francisco, Cal., for respondent Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.

Robert M. Shea, San Francisco, Cal., for respondent Parkmerced Corp.

Page 206

Lawrence G. Wallace, Washington, D.C., for the United States, as amicus curiae.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Two tenants of Parkmerced, an apartment complex in San Francisco housing about 8,200 residents, filed separate complaints with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pursuant to § 810(a)1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, 82 Stat. 85, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). One tenant is black, one white. Each alleged that the owner2

Page 207

of Parkmerced had discriminated against nonwhites on the basis of race in the rental of apartments within the complex in violation of § 804 of the Act.

HUD, pursuant to § 810(c) of the Act,3 notified the appropriate California state agency of the complaints and the state agency, for lack of adequate resources to handle the complaints, referred the charge back to HUD. Since HUD failed to secure voluntary compliance within 30 days, petitioners brought this action in the District Court under § 810(d) of the Act.4

The complaint alleged that the owner had discriminated against nonwhite rental applicants in numerous

Page 208

ways, e.g., making it known to them that they would not be welcome at Parkmerced, manipulating the waiting list for apartments, delaying action on their applications, using discriminatory acceptance standards, and the like.

They—the two tenants—claimed they had been injured in that (1) they had lost the social benefits of living in an integrated community; (2) they had missed business and professional advantages which would have accrued if they had lived with members of minority groups; (3) they had suffered embarrassment and economic damage in social, business, and professional activities from being 'stigmatized' as residents of a 'white ghetto.'5

The District Court did not reach the merits but only held that petitioners were not within the class of persons entitled to sue under the Act. 322 F.Supp. 352. The Court of Appeals affirmed, construing § 810(a) narrowly to permit complaints only by persons who are the objects of discriminatory housing practices. 446 F.2d 1158. The case is here on a petition for a writ of certiorari, which we granted, 405 U.S. 915, 92 S.Ct. 945, 30 L.Ed.2d 784. We reverse the judgment below.

The definition of 'person aggrieved' contained in § 810(a)6 is in terms broad, as it is defined as '(a)ny person who claims to have been injured by a discriminatory housing practice.'

The Act gives the Secretary of HUD power to receive and investigate complaints regarding discriminatory housing practices. The Secretary, however, must defer to state agencies that can provide relief against the named practice. If the state agency does not act, the Secretary may seek to resolve the controversy by confer-

Page 209

ence, conciliation, or persuasion. If these attempts fail, the complainant may proceed to court pursuant to § 810(d).7 Moreover, these rights may be enforced 'by civil actions in appropriate United States district courts without regard to the amount in controversy,' if brought within 180 days 'after the alleged discriminatory housing practice occurred.' § 812(a). In addition, § 813 gives the Attorney General authority to bring a civil action in any appropriate United States district court when he has reasonable cause to believe 'that any person or group of persons is engaged in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of any of the rights granted' by the Act.

It is apparent, as the Solicitor General says, that complaints by private persons are the primary method of obtaining compliance with the Act. Hackett v. McGuire Bros., Inc., 445 F.2d 442 (CA 3), which dealt with the phrase that allowed a suit to be started 'by a person claiming to be aggrieved' under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e—5(a), concluded that the words used showed 'a congressional intention to define standing as broadly as is permitted by Article III of the Constitution.' Id., at 446. With respect to suits brought under the 1968 Act,8 we reach the same conclusion, insofar as tenants of the...

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755 practice notes
  • American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2119 v. Cohen, No. 98-1504
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 18 Marzo 1999
    ...669, 93 S.Ct. 2405, 37 L.Ed.2d 254 (1973) (aesthetic, environmental and recreational injury); Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 93 S.Ct. 364, 34 L.Ed.2d 415 (1972) (loss of social benefits of integrated community as Next, the plaintiffs can reasonably trace these redu......
  • United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburgh, Inc. v. Wilson, No. 1251
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 6 Enero 1975
    ...Lightfoot, supra (deciding claim on merits); Wright v. Rockefeller, supra (same). See also Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 409 U.S. 205, 93 S.Ct. 364, 34 L.Ed.2d 415 The intervenor-appellee NAACP argues that appellants lack standing because there is no connection between the......
  • Swanston v. City of Plano, Tex., Civil Action 4:19-cv-412
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    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 27 Agosto 2021
    ...“a ‘generous construction.'” City of Edmonds v. Oxford House, Inc., 514 U.S. 725, 731 (1995) (quoting Trafficante v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 209, 212 (1972)). Congress enacted the ADA “to remedy widespread discrimination against disabled individuals.” PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin, 5......
  • Clark v. Valeo, No. 76-1825
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 6 Junio 1977
    ...standing pursuant to statutory authorization to challenge the congressional veto provision. See Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 93 S.Ct. 364, 34 L.Ed.2d 415 (1972). 14 Similarly, I am satisfied that the majority opinion does not decide whether or in what circumstanc......
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755 cases
  • American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2119 v. Cohen, No. 98-1504
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 18 Marzo 1999
    ...669, 93 S.Ct. 2405, 37 L.Ed.2d 254 (1973) (aesthetic, environmental and recreational injury); Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 93 S.Ct. 364, 34 L.Ed.2d 415 (1972) (loss of social benefits of integrated community as Next, the plaintiffs can reasonably trace these redu......
  • Swanston v. City of Plano, Tex., Civil Action 4:19-cv-412
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 27 Agosto 2021
    ...“a ‘generous construction.'” City of Edmonds v. Oxford House, Inc., 514 U.S. 725, 731 (1995) (quoting Trafficante v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 209, 212 (1972)). Congress enacted the ADA “to remedy widespread discrimination against disabled individuals.” PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin, 5......
  • Clark v. Valeo, No. 76-1825
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 6 Junio 1977
    ...standing pursuant to statutory authorization to challenge the congressional veto provision. See Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 93 S.Ct. 364, 34 L.Ed.2d 415 (1972). 14 Similarly, I am satisfied that the majority opinion does not decide whether or in what circumstanc......
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    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • 29 Septiembre 2006
    ...special deference when it has remained consistent over a long period of time. Id. (citing Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 210, 93 S.Ct. 364, 34 L.Ed.2d 415 The current EEOC disclosure regulation, like that in effect at the time the Associated Dry Goods decision was ......
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