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Circuit court upholds Section 8 precedent

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals declined today to overturn precedent on the due process rights of someone rejected from specific Section 8 housing.

In Marshall Fincher v. South Bend Heritage Foundation, No. 09-1964, Marshall Fincher sued after his Section 8 application for housing in a building owned by South Bend Heritage Foundation was denied due to a previous eviction. Fincher claimed he was denied due process of law or that SBHF breached a contract with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to which Fincher is a third-party beneficiary.

Fincher wanted the Circuit Court to overturn its precedent in Eidson v. Pierce, 745 F.2d 435 (7th Cir. 1984), but the judges declined because they found Eidson to be a well-reasoned opinion. That ruling found there is no legitimate claim to entitlement for people rejected from a specific housing unit.

“Under Section 8, even if a plaintiff proved that the landlord relied on false information in coming to its decision to deny the plaintiff housing, the plaintiff still would not be entitled to the housing so long as the housing went to another eligible candidate,” wrote Judge Joel Flaum. “Therefore, the due process hearing would be meaningless.”

Section 8 only provides landlords with a series of guidelines to apply when choosing between two eligible candidates and leaves the landlord with considerable discretion in making the final decision, he continued.

The Circuit judges rejected Fincher’s arguments to rely on a 9th Circuit case that was decided two years before Eidson because the 7th Circuit had already rejected the reasoning from that case in Eidson. They also declined to adopt rulings out of a New Jersey District Court or the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts because those cases tackled different issues than the one in Eidson. In the New Jersey case, the issue was whether an individual had a right to a due process hearing when she was denied eligibility for the Section 8 housing program in New Jersey. The Massachusetts case addressed a situation where the defendants were allegedly in violation of numerous state public housing regulations that set forth mandatory priority and preference categories.

“Because Eidson was a well-reasoned opinion, and no significant changes in the law have occurred between when we decided that case and now, we decline the invitation to overturn Eidson and affirm the district court on the due process challenge,” wrote Judge Flaum.

The 7th Circuit also affirmed the District Court’s rejection of Fincher’s claim that he can bring a suit as a third-party beneficiary of a contract entered into between SBHF and HUD. Fincher must point to specific regulations or contract provisions that are being violated in this case to give rise to this cause of action.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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