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The actual or threatened injury required by U.S. Const. art. III may exist solely by virtue of statutes creating legal rights, the invasion of which creates standing. Section 804(d) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C.S. § 3604(d), which, in terms, establishes an enforceable right to truthful information concerning the availability of housing, is such an enactment. A tester who has been the object of a misrepresentation made unlawful under § 804(d) has suffered injury in precisely the form the statute was intended to guard against, and therefore has standing to maintain a claim for damages under the Act's provisions. That the tester may have approached the real estate agent fully expecting that he would receive false information, and without any intention of buying or renting a home, does not negate the simple fact of injury within the meaning of § 804(d).
A class action was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia by three individuals and a nonprofit corporation (collectively, “plaintiffs”) whose purpose was to make equal opportunity in housing a reality in the Richmond, Virginia metropolitan area against the owners of an apartment complex and one of its employees, alleging that the defendants engaged in "racial steering" violative of 804 of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C.S 3604) and seeking declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. One of the individuals was a black "renter" who, attempting to rent an apartment from the owners, inquired about the availability of an apartment at the complex and was falsely told that no apartments were available. The other two individuals were "testers"—employees of the organization who, without an intent to rent or purchase a home or apartment, posed as renters or purchasers for the purpose of collecting evidence of unlawful steering practices. One of the testers was black and on four separate occasions on which she made inquiries as to the availability of apartments was told that no apartments were available, while the other tester was white and was told that there were vacancies. The three individual plaintiffs were all residents of Richmond or the adjacent Henrico County in which the complex was located, and they averred that they had been injured by the discriminatory acts of the defendants, the renter claiming that he had been denied the right to rent real property in Henrico County, he and the two tester plaintiffs alleging that the owners' practices deprived them of the important social, professional, business and economic, political and aesthetic benefits of interracial associations that arise from living in integrated communities free from discriminatory housing practices, and the black tester alleging that the misinformation given her by the owner concerning the availability of apartments in the complex had caused her specific injury. In addition, the organization asserted that the steering practices had frustrated its counseling and referral services, with a consequent drain on resources. On the defendants' pre-trial motion, the District Court dismissed the claims of the two testers and the organization, holding that they lacked standing and that their claims were barred by the 180-day statute of limitations of 812(a) of the Act (42 U.S.C.S 3612(a)). On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, reversed and remanded, holding that the allegations of injury by the two testers, both as testers and as individuals who were deprived of the benefits of residing in an integrated community, sufficed to withstand a motion to dismiss, that the organization's allegations of injury to itself were sufficient, at the pleading stage, to afford the organization standing in its own capacity, and that none of the allegations of racial steering were time-barred, because the defendants' conduct constituted a continuing violation lasting through the last reported occurrence, which was less than 180 days before the complaint was filed. A writ of certiorari was granted.
1) Yes, except the white individual tester.
2) Yes, but only the allegation of the black tester whose claims arose from four isolated occasions.
The court held that the black "tester" who has been the object of a misrepresentation as to the availability of a dwelling made unlawful under 804(d) of the Act (42 U.S.C.S 3604(d)) has suffered injury in precisely the form the Act was intended to guard against and thus has standing under 812 of the Act (42 U.S.C.S 3612) to maintain a claim for damages, even though the tester may have approached a real estate agent fully expecting to receive false information and without any intention of buying or renting a home, so that the black tester had suffered "specific injury" from the challenged acts of the apartment complex owner, and the Federal Constitution's Article III requirement of injury-in-fact was satisfied. However, the court held that the white tester had alleged no injury to his statutory right to accurate information concerning the availability of housing and thus had no standing to sue in his capacity as a tester. The court further held that the nonprofit organization had standing in its own right under 812 to challenge the owner's allegedly unlawful steering practices, since the organization had alleged that the practices had perceptibly impaired its ability to provide counseling and referral services for low- and moderate-income home-seekers. Anent the second issue, the court held that due to the fact that the plaintiffs challenged an unlawful practice that continued into the limitations period by depriving them of benefits of interracial association, their claims were not time-barred. However, the plaintiff black tester could not take advantage of the continuing violations theory because her claims arose from four isolated occasions on which she received false information from the owners in violation of 804(d).