Nebraska agency to appeal dismissal of housing lawsuit

By Margery A. Gibbs
Omaha, Nebraska (AP) 6-08

A Chadron housing agency says it will appeal the dismissal of its lawsuit against the state and a mobile home park to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

During May, a federal court in Nebraska dismissed High Plains Community Development’s lawsuit that alleged the owners of a mobile home park discriminated against American Indians.

High Plains Community Development had sued on behalf of a renter at Hinn’s Mobile Homes in Chadron. The lawsuit named the park owners, Terry Hinn and Marilyn Hinn Hays, as well as the Nebraska Health and Human Services System, which issues licenses to mobile home parks in Nebraska.

The lawsuit said many of the homes were overcrowded, dilapidated, had rat and snake problems and substandard plumbing. Marguerite Vey-Miller, executive director of High Plains, has said the homes were rented to American Indians because the landlords knew the Indians have nowhere else to go.

The owners have denied those accusations. Hays had previously acknowledged to The Associated Press that the homes were in poor condition but said vandals and some renters were to blame.

In dismissing the lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Smith Camp said among other things that High Plains failed to show how the defendants had harmed the nonprofit organization. The judge also said High Plains lacked standing to bring the lawsuit under the federal Fair Housing Act.

Vey-Miller said June 6 that the organization’s board of directors voted to appeal Smith Camp’s decision.

“High Plains believes that the court’s reasoning is inconsistent with case law under the Fair Housing Act established by the U.S. Supreme Court and that the court erred in dismissing this suit,” Vey-Miller said.

A spokeswoman with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office said there was no comment.

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