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Miami Drops Fair Housing Cases Against Wells Fargo, BofA (1)

Jan. 31, 2020, 6:47 PMUpdated: Jan. 31, 2020, 7:54 PM

The City of Miami voluntarily dropped fair housing cases against Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., bringing litigation that had gone up to the U.S. Supreme Court to a surprising end.

Judge William P. Dimitrouleas of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida signed off Thursday on Miami’s requests to dismiss its cases against the four banks. The requests were submitted Jan. 29.

Miami’s move to dismiss the cases voluntarily came as a surprise to the banks, sources close to the situation say. There are no settlement talks ongoing, and Miami had just received the court’s permission Jan. 21 for a filing extension on an updated complaint in the Wells Fargo case, according to the court docket.

“The dismissal was initiated by the city and is not related to a settlement, and Wells Fargo is providing nothing in exchange,” Wells Fargo said in a statement Friday.

Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez could not immediately be reached for comment.

The City of Miami was one of several municipalities that sued Wall Street banks for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act after the 2008 housing and financial crisis. The cities alleged that the banks steered black and Latino home owners into mortgages they could not afford, leaving local governments on the hook for lost taxes and the costs of maintaining foreclosed properties.

The City of Miami filed its lawsuits against San Francisco-based Wells Fargo and Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America in 2015. Those cases were dismissed, but revived by the U.S. Supreme Court in a May 2017 decision that allowed cities to bring Fair Housing Act claims against the banks, but raised doubts about their tax revenue claims.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in May 2019 said that the cases could move forward, ruling after the Supreme Court remand.

William Halldin, a spokesman for Bank of America, and representatives for Citigroup and JPMorgan all declined to comment. .

The cases are City of Miami v. Wells Fargo & Co., S.D. Fla., No. 1:13-cv-24508, order 1/30/20; City of Miami v. Bank of Am. Corp., S.D. Fla., No. 1:13-cv-24506, order 1/30/20; City of Miami v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., S.D. Fla., No. 1:14-cv-22205, order 1/30/20; and City of Miami v. Citigroup Inc., S.D. Fla., No. 1:13-cv-24510, order 1/30/20.

(Updates with comments from the banks in the fourth and ninth paragraphs)

To contact the reporter on this story: Evan Weinberger in New York at eweinberger@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Ferullo at mferullo@bloomberglaw.com

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