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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for Miami to sue major banks accused of “predatory” lending practices in heavily African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods.

The city alleged in lawsuits against Bank of America and Wells Fargo that predatory lending led to a disproportionate number of property foreclosures and vacancies, resulting in problems such as reduced property-tax revenues and increased need for police and fire services, the Supreme Court ruling said.

A U.S. district judge dismissed the complaints, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the city.
Monday’s majority opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, said the city’s complaints are arguably within the “zone of interests” of the Fair Housing Act.

“The upshot is that the city alleges economic injuries that arguably fall within the FHA’s zone of interests, as we have previously interpreted that statute,” Breyer wrote in the opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

But Justice Clarence Thomas, in a dissent joined by justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito, wrote that the Fair Housing Act’s “zone of interests is not so expansive as to include” the types of injuries claimed by Miami.

Newly seated Justice Neil Gorsuch did not take part in the case.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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