McDermott Secures Final Approval Of The Class Action Settlement Agreement And Class Certification On Behalf Of Chicago Public Housing Residents In Minimum Rent Lawsuit - McDermott Will & Emery

McDermott Secures Final Approval Of The Class Action Settlement Agreement And Class Certification On Behalf Of Chicago Public Housing Residents In Minimum Rent Lawsuit


International law firm McDermott Will & Emery, along with Legal Action Chicago and the National Housing Law Project, has secured class certification on behalf of Chicago public housing residents and final approval of the settlement of a federal lawsuit that challenged the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA’s) policy of charging and collecting minimum rents from its lowest-income residents.

“This CHA policy was impacting some of the most marginalized people of Chicago for far too long,” said Daniel Campbell, partner in McDermott’s Litigation Group and co-lead on this matter. “This settlement was hard fought, and it’s a big win for some of the city’s poorest residents. We are satisfied and proud we were able to push for a positive and fair resolution that impacts thousands of residents. We are pleased the Court has granted final approval of the class action settlement and certified the settlement class so public housing residents can start receiving the extensive relief available in the settlement.”

Public housing residents typically pay a reduced rent equal to a percentage of their income, but when that percentage falls below a certain amount, federal law authorizes CHA to charge a minimum rent of $75 per month. CHA charges more than 1,400 public housing families the minimum rent. Families who cannot afford the minimum rent have the right to request a hardship exemption. The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged that CHA did not take steps to reasonably and sufficiently inform families of this right. CHA denied this allegation.

McDermott and its partners contacted CHA and worked together to seek a fair resolution. US District Judge Matthew Kennelly has granted final approval of the settlement and certified the class of public housing residents which requires CHA to provide residents with improved notice of the hardship exemption and additional training for property managers. CHA will now erase from each resident’s ledger all unpaid minimum rent charges imposed since July 2016 and provide eligible residents with rent credits for minimum rent payments made since April 2020. The court also granted attorney fees in the amount of $75,000 to class counsel.

“McDermott is proud to focus on high-impact pro bono litigation and play a role in positive outcomes for our pro bono clients,” said Paul Thompson, the Firm’s pro bono litigation partner. “Unfortunately, more than 90% of people in the United States do not receive the legal representation they need in civil cases. Together with legal services organizations, we are working to make a difference. This case, in particular, highlights the importance of legal counsel to reach a fair and just outcome.”

The case is Oliver et al. v. Chicago Housing Authority in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

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