Virginia Federal Court Applies Continuing Violation Theory To Extend FHA Statute Of Limitations

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On January 29, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia invoked the continuing violation theory in refusing to bar an otherwise untimely Fair Housing Act discrimination claim. Nat’l Fair Hous. Alliance, Inc. v. HHHunt Corp., No. 11-131, 2013 WL 335877 (W.D. Va. Jan. 29, 2013). The case against the defendant architect centered on the design and construction of two apartment complexes in North Carolina. The parties agreed that the FHA’s two year statute of limitations had not run on claims relating to one of the projects. Standing alone, the claims relating to the other apartment complex were outside the two year limitation. The plaintiffs argued, however, that the two allegedly wrongful designs together established a pattern or practice of discriminatory acts, the last of which having occurred within the statutory time frame, served to save all claims from the time limitation. The court found this theory viable and denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. In doing so the court held that multiple design and construction projects that are “sufficiently related” can constitute a pattern or practice that warrants extending the statute of limitations period. Whether the two apartment construction projects at issue were so related, the court reasoned, raised a genuine issue of material fact that prevented summary judgment.