MIAMI – A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, recently granted Wells Fargo Bank's motion for a summary judgment in suit brought by the city of Miami Gardens that alleged the bank engaged in discriminatory lending practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
In an order written June 29, U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno granted the motion for summary judgment on the part Wells Fargo Bank against Miami Gardens.
In its suit against Wells Fargo, the city alleged that loans made to white borrowers within the city were, on the whole, not as costly as loans made to African-American and Hispanic borrowers, the court filing said. Defaults and foreclosures resulting from high mortgage payments had an adverse effect on the city's tax revenue, the court filing said.
As the court considered the case, it charged the city to show specific predatory practices within the city limits and specific cases that show an injury traced to the actions of Wells Fargo and how it loaned to borrowers in Miami Gardens. The court also looked at the issue of standing under the Fair Housing Act.
The city characterized Wells Fargo as “steering” minorities into certain types of loans that generally had more difficult terms – citing subprime and balloon payment loans, as well as other various types of problematic loan products.
Judge Moreno found that the city failed to make a prima facie case for a Fair Housing Act violation within the limitations period cited.
“The court need not decide whether the city's failure to show an injury in the limitations … requires summary judgment,” the court wrote. “The court grants the motion for summary judgment, finding even if the city could state a prima facie case by providing nearly identical comparators, the city ultimately cannot carry its burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that Wells Fargo's reasons for the price differentials were mere pretext for discrimination.”