Housing Discrimination Defense and Civil Rights

The Klinedinst Housing Discrimination Defense and Civil Rights group is dedicated to defending individual and corporate property owners, landlords, and property management companies against federal and state fair housing, habitability and other tenancy related claims. Our goal is to help our owner and management clients solve their legal problems as efficiently and advantageously as possible. Our attorneys have substantial experience handling administrative complaints and investigations before the state Civil Rights Department (formerly DFEH), as well as the federal Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Department. The firm also has substantial experience defending against civil lawsuits in court involving fair housing, habitability and related claims. 

Our attorneys have developed top-tier experience due to our joint defense of one of Los Angeles’ most high-profile landlords in the largest housing discrimination case in history filed by private plaintiffs in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice. The highly-publicized and consolidated cases were pending in the Central District of California from 2006-2009 [Department of Justice v. Donald T. Sterling et. al. Lead Case No. CV 06-4885-DSF (Ex) related to Kevin Tyrrell v. Donald T. Sterling et. al., Case No. CV 06 07442 DSF(Ex); Darrell Rhodes v. Donald T. Sterling et. al., Case No. CV 07 7234 DSF(Ex)]. The case involved 65 million pages of documents and thousands of witnesses. After over two and a half years of litigation, the United States and two private plaintiff firms were only able to locate twenty families claiming discriminatory treatment, out of over 12,000 total tenants at issue. The vast majority of these claims were debunked, and our attorneys got the case settled on highly advantageous terms for our clients.    

Likewise, Greg Garbacz, the chair of the practice group, obtained a complete defense jury verdict at trial in a Section 8 housing discrimination case that involved inflammatory allegations of disability and income-based discrimination toward an elderly immigrant. The jury’s verdict was unanimously upheld on appeal by the Second Appellate District in a published decision, which affirmed the arguments advanced by Klinedinst at trial and on appeal. The published opinion is Sabi v. Sterling (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 916.  

In addition to being the leaders in California in the defense of property owners and property management companies in housing discrimination cases, our attorneys have trial-based experience in the defense of all of California’s civil rights statutes, including the Bane, Ralph, and Unruh Civil Rights Acts. These statutes are frequently used to raise the stakes against California businesses due to the potential for treble damages, attorneys’ fees, and statutory penalties. As Fair Housing and Employment Act experts in employment law as well as housing, the firm can provide a solid defense of any real estate or other business against claims of alleged discrimination, harassment, or violations of civil rights no matter what the context or setting. Moreover, with extensive trial experience in the defense of these cases, Klinedinst has unique credibility with the plaintiff’s bar, which will add needed leverage for exploring settlement of such cases if that is the client’s desired objective.  

Our attorneys also provide proactive counseling and pre-litigation solutions for clients trying to reduce risk and avoid fair housing and habitability lawsuits, or trying to resolve tenant disputes during the administrative, pre-litigation process. We regularly provide preemptive counseling for property owners and managers to develop forms and policies to avoid liability issues. We also work with owners and managers to resolve disputes with tenants and other aggrieved parties prior to litigation or, if resolution is not possible, to position the case as advantageously as possible to maximize the likelihood of a successful outcome once litigation is initiated. Our philosophy is simple: pre-litigation counseling and dispute resolution can be used to effectively avoid most litigation and to maximize our client’s profitability and to minimize the expenses associated with unnecessary lawsuits.